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Magnús Benediktsson took on the job of manager of the Landsmót, The Icelandic Horse Festival, in Hella next summer. Magnús has worked on several projects in the Icelandic horse world in the past years and is known to be a creative event manager and a clever negotiator. He is also one of the publishers of the Stallion book, which was a great success when first published, he was manager of riding club Sprettur for five years, was the founder of the Amateur League in Icelandic Equestrian Sport in Iceland, was the manager of FM2021 in Borgarnes and is now the current manager of Eiðfaxi Magazine as well as one of the owners.

Different times

Magnús is raised at the farm Skarð in Landsveit near Hella and Kristinn Guðnason in Árbæjarhjáleiga (before in Skarð) is his foster father. Like many strong and healty boys who were in Skarð, he became a successful rider on racehorses and started at a young age. He worked as a trainer for several years before moving to Reykjavík, where he owned and ran a popular restaurant.

Many expect a new era will come to the Landsmót culture, at LM2022 in Hella. But to take on managing such a big event, must have been a challenge that needed to be thought through.

“That is absolutely correct, like everyone who has worked on an event of this calibre knows, this takes a lot of planning over a long period of time. My wife and I, Rakel Ýr Björnsdóttir, had our third child last year so there are never dull moments, no matter where you look. After a fair amount of discussion, we decided I would give it a go. I admit, I have had my eye on this exciting project for some time and in my opinion, it needs a little freshen up to make it even more exciting for visitors. It has been the same for a long time, therefor I think now is the time for some changes.”

So many options

“Most people agree that there are a few synergetic reasons why fewer visitors come to Landsmót then before,” says Magnús.

“First of all, the number of visitors decreased when we started having them every second year instead of every four years. Another reason is the horse shows and live online broadcasts from events and tournaments where the best horses in Iceland perform. So, people know the strongest horses and predict the Landsmót finals in forehand. Regarding the breeding section, all breeding shows in Iceland are recorded, people can also watch them live and afterwards on www.alendis.is. Finally, the Landsmót always competes with many other family events around Iceland every summer, like local fairs and soccer tournaments. So, to keep our standard and adjust to changed times, we have to adjust Landsmót to this and get people to like and choose our event rather than the others.”

Nothing dramatic

“There will be no dramatic changes on our program, just to be clear, since I don’t have permission to do that and that would not be rational,” says Magnús. “The program will be similar to last Landsmót events. Gaedinga competition is the queen of Landsmót and that will not change. It will stay the same as before, as well as the breeding shows. I have on the other hand, suggested changes that will make the program more family friendly and added a marketing guru to our team, Jón Gunnar Geirdal. What we want to do is, adding more live music to the program, family friendly activities and add the sport section to the competition program. Finally, we want to try to decrease the gap between the general visitor and the breeder. Saturday will be the final day, ending with the A-finals in A-class gaedinga. In the evening will be entertainment and live music where some of Iceland’s best performers will shine. On Sunday, farmers and breeders will open their doors and invite to an open house at home, where people can visit their favourite farm/breeder, meet famous horses and so on, simply a fun day out in the countryside.”

The sport belongs at Landsmót

It has been discussed that the plan is to add sport disciplines to the Landsmót program. People talk and wonder if that is an attempt to turn Landsmót into “just another sporting event” and surely, we have enough of them already. Magnús has another take on that angle.

“We should rather wonder why the sport disciplines haven’t been added to the competition on Landsmót a long time ago. Of course, the T1 tölt has been on the program since 1978 and has usually been the most popular part of the program. As a successful experiment, foreign riders were invited to take part in a sport competition on Landsmót 1982 in Vindheimamelar and again in 1990. It is also a fact that the sport, F1, T1, V1, T2 and so on, is the most popular form of competition when it comes to the Icelandic horse. So, without a doubt, the sport on Landsmót will be watched and draw a bigger crowd to Hella next summer. I twill also ensure that we will see all the best horses in the country compete there, because it is a fact that Gaedinga competition doesn’t suit all horses even if they can become a World Champion on foreign grounds later.”

We keep going

LM2020 in Hella was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now it seems that this pandemic is far from easy to manage as we first thought. Is this something to worry about?

“We are well aware of the situation of the pandemic and we cannot be certain that it will be manageable before spring. But we will not let it stop us yet and will keep going to plan and stay focused on our work and take it day by day. One thing is certain: The Landsmót in Hella next summer will be amazing,” says Magnús Benediktsson manager of LM2022.

For more information on Landsmót 2022 visit www.landsmot.is