The tour is operated by Haukur from Hvammur 2 in Vatnsdalur and it’s suitable for intermediate and advanced riders. The days were not too long but we still saw lots of different landscape and had lots of fun together.
On the first day, our arrival day, we had lunch and got to know each other a little bit before we headed out on our first ride. We rode along the coastline of lake hóp and the horses had lots of fun running in the sand. We ended the day at the farm Stóra-Borg where the horses stayed overnight. On our way back to Hvammur, we stopped at the old viking fort Borgarvirki.
We enjoyed the evening in the hot tub and relaxed our muscles for the next day.
On the second riding day, which was a beautiful sunny fall day, we rode through blueberry bushes and had a great view over lake hóp that we would cross a little later.
The water in lake hóp is very shallow, so it’s very fun for the horses to gallop over it and it almost looks like they can walk on the water! After the lake we continued riding through a few rivers, swamps and over sandbanks.
We got home in time to get some rest before we went to the riding hall in Sauðárkrókur, where the riders and breeders of Skagafjörður put together a spectacular and very fun horse show.
On the next morning we got up quite early and hauled one riding horse per person to Kolbeinsdalur in Skagafjörður. We went for a beautiful ride towards Hjaltadalur where we saw the herd that was brought back home for the winter.
Once we arrived at the Laufskálaréttir corral, we built a fence for our own horses and then had time to watch the event.
Laufskálarétt is the biggest horse round up here in Iceland. It takes place in Hjaltadalur in North Iceland every year on the last September weekend. The event is very popular with tourists, but it also attracts many Icelandic spectators and helpers. Horse people from all over the world come to North Iceland to enjoy Icelandic horse culture at its finest on this fall weekend. Thousands of guests and hundreds of houses gather at the Laufskálaréttir coral and it’s amazing to think about how everybody there shares the same passion for the Icelandic horse. The farmers spend the days before the big sorting with gathering their horses up in the mountains – very fun times with lots of laughter and joy.
It was almost overwhelming to see hundreds of beautiful horses in one place and it was very entertaining to watch the sorting. Every farm has their own small paddock that’s attached to the big corral, and everybody helps one another to get their horses back. Many farmers know their horses by looks, but of course they are also chipped and some of them have cold brands to help identify them.
Once every horse has been sorted into the right paddock, the farmers and their friends start to take them home. Some to it with trailers, but most of them actually take their horses as a loose herd. One by one they leave the coral and you can watch them from the car on your way back home as they make their way back home. Prepare for small traffic jams caused by Icelandic cowboys – they usually don’t end the party at the coral but rather take it home with them!
Whether you would like to visit the famous Laufskálarétt or decide to go to or even participate in a smaller round up, we can guarantee that it will be a blast! It’s the height of the season for the farmers that send their youngsters to the mountains for the summer and there’s no better insight into Icelandic horse culture.
You can visit the round ups on your own, but if you would like to participate or just in generally combine them with an adventure on horseback, we can recommend to look into the different tours that Íslandshestar offers.
Text and photos: Louisa Hackl