The International Day of the Icelandic Horse was celebrated with a varied programme in Iceland and abroad. The winner of our video contest was announced: Congratulations Klara!
The International Day of the Icelandic Horse was celebrated with a varied programme in Iceland and in Icelandic horse communities abroad on May 1st. The event was established by Horses of Iceland in 2016 in and it quickly became a fixed date for Icelandic horse lovers to celebrate the breed. In Iceland this year, special emphasis was placed on encouraging Icelandic horse clubs and other parties to organise an open-house day at their stables in cooperation with the Icelandic Horse Association. All around Iceland, horse clubs celebrated with a varied programme. Riders of all ages demonstrated their skills inside riding halls, children rode hand-led horses and visitors observed horse contests and shows. In some places, there were also horse parades.
Horses of Iceland dropped by horse club Sprettur in Kópavogur outside Reykjavík and watched students from the Reiðmaðurinn riding course (held by the Agricultural University of Iceland’s Department of Continuing Education) compete for the Reynisbikar trophy. “This is the final examination of the winter semester,” explained Sprettur managing director Magnús Benediktsson. For the past two years, Sprettur and AUI have worked closely together on the Reiðmaðurinn course. It is also possible to join the course at other horse clubs in Iceland, which cooperate with AIC. Following the preliminaries and final, a graduation ceremony took place. The programme also included a demonstration of the Knapamerkin riding levels and some horsing around – kids competing in horse soccer! The programme came to an end with excited young horse lovers riding on hand-led horses. They could subsequently sign up for riding courses.
Magnús Benediktsson (in the middle) with Hinrik Þór Sigurðsson from the AUI (left), riding instructor Þórdís Anna Gylfadóttir (right) and the mare Þruma.
Magnús was pleased with the day. “We look at it as a window where the average practitioner can come and familiarise him or herself with what we’re doing,” he said. Hinrik Þór Sigurðsson, project manager at AUI, agreed. He described the day as an “information gateway where those who are curious about horsemanship can come take a look.” Since the day was first celebrated, the interest in lessons and horse-related studies have increased. “After we launched our collaboration with Sprettur, there has been increased demand and we have had to expand the course.”
In some places the celebration continued for a few more days. In Víðidalur stable area in Reykjavík, the horse clubs in the capital area held a special show called Æskan og hesturinn (“The Youth and the Horse”) on May 4th, where children and teens demonstrated their riding skills to a captivated audience. Youth work is important to the clubs. “Children are participants in the programme,” stressed Magnús. The riding hall was packed when young riders of different ages, wearing matching outfits and broad smiles, rode proudly in a progression into the hall, then performing a thoroughly practiced routine. Much loved local musician Friðrik Dór sang a few songs in between the varied acts. 
This year, Horses of Iceland held a video contest where Icelandic horse lovers could enter their favourite moments with their four-legged friends. The contest received widespread attention, resulting of 30 videos being submitted to the project’s Facebook page. Viewers were then encouraged to vote for their favourite videos. The winner, Klara from Germany, received 808 votes for a video about how being around horses lifts the spirit. The video highlighted the friendship between man and horse where the gentle nature of the Icelandic horse was evident. Then the riders mounted their steeds and went for a ride in beautiful surroundings, showing how powerful the Icelandic horse can be. Klara was given praise for portraying the breed’s versatile character. She was gifted with a ticket with Icelandair worth ISK 70,000, a horse tour with Íshestar for two and two week passes to Landsmót National Horse Competition 2020 in Hella, South Iceland. Congratulations Klara! You can watch all the videos here.
We would like to thank everyone who celebrated the International Day of the Icelandic Horse with us.
Text: Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir. Photos: Louisa Hackl. 


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