In the UK at least, men in the Icelandic horse riding community are a significant rarity but we welcome them warmly and it is lovely to see more men coming with their partners and then joining in once they see how much fun can be had. Barry is one of the people I know in person as he lives in the South of England.
First off can I say how much that I admire Mo’s energy and enthusiasm especially as she doesn’t ride anymore! (thanks Barry!)
A little about myself and my life with the Icelandic Horse:
I came into Icelandic horses after 25yrs of owning and competing on big horses and never dreamt that one day I’d be riding these little fellas! Anyway after having a couple of nasty falls and 1 youngster throwing me through the air like a rag doll and ending up in A&E I found riding big horses uncomfortable and I never really re-gained my confidence again .
Wendy (my long suffering wife) who is part Icelandic, eventually convinced me to go with her to Iceland on a 10 day riding tour. I must say that I wasn’t totally hooked after this but decided we should go back the following year. This time I was nearly hooked so decided to go back in September to take part in a sheep roundup…well that was it I was hooked! (that’s how it happens – Wendy is teeny-tiny too and mad on Cairn Terriers so I said I would kidnap Barry’s post and put a link in for her fund raising that she has started today – Mo.)
Shortly after that I took Odinn on loan – looking back possibly wasn’t the best type to take on as a first Icelandic. (understatement – Mo!)
I persevered with him and have now passed him onto a suitable home which I honestly thought a few times I’d never be able to do as he is such a complex character but he has finally started to prove himself.
I now have Tigull and have a 1yr old Fálki arriving sometime in May.
Since going on those initial trips I have made a lot of friends in Iceland and now spend a month every year guiding the Northern Exposure, Arctic North tours and the Melrakaslétta sheep roundup which is incredibly hard work with up to 16 guests and 120 horses on the tours. (Understating his case again – Northern Exposure was nominated by the Sunday Times as one of the top ten riding tours in the world last year – 2018).
If you’re interested in knowing more about these tours check out Bjarnastaðir Horse Tours on Facebook…I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have on there or on my personal FB page via messenger.
It’s great that the Icelandic horse world in the UK is expanding with new owners and going in new directions but have to say that I’m a big fan of real Icelandic competitions and try to support these where I can…unfortunately I won’t be at the Oakfield spring show this year due to other commitments but will be at the BC’s and for the first time in several years I will be back from Iceland and able to go to the Oakfield September show!
My biggest bit of advice for anyone who’s thinking of coming into the Icey world is to go and experience the Icelandic horse in its home…you will be totally amazed at what the little hairy beasts are capable of I know I was!