The six riders and two auditors on this trip enjoyed one of the best weeks of weather I’ve ever seen in my 30 years of traveling in Iceland. Warm, bright, windless sunny days and clear (sunny) nights, with the glaciers sparkling in the distance to both east and west. We were running out of clean t-shirts and sunscreen. It was hard to go inside the riding hall at Stadarhus for our lessons twice a day, except that Gudmar and the fabulous horses he had chosen for us made them so much fun.
Gudmar divided us into three groups by experience level–we had some absolute beginners, and some who had owned and ridden Icelandics for many years–and brought us through a carefully thought-out series of exercises, each one building on the last. His emphasis in this clinic was on getting to know a new horse, becoming its leader, warming it up properly, and finally getting its best tolt. Everyone learned a lot, no matter how advanced their skill level.
After the indoor lessons, we put our new knowledge into practice with short rides out along the riverside, the beautiful snow-streaked mountains constantly in view. Two lucky riders were so happy with their horses that they decided to bring them home to America. Congratulations to Millie and Christina!
We also took time out during the week for some sightseeing. Everyone had to use their imaginations when we drove west from Stadarhus along the beautiful peninsula of Snaefellsnes: It rained sideways. The wind blew so hard that some of us never made it down the hill to the bird-watching platforms (we were feeling like kites), and no one got an up-close view of the glacier that had tantalized us from afar all week long.
On another afternoon tour, we headed south to visit the impressive breeding farm of Austerás, where Haukur Baldvínsson specializes in AI breeding using the young stallion Konsert (with 10 for tolt!). Haukur also gave us a pace demonstration on the champion Falur. Driving in the van alongside the pace track, Gudmar had to shift into third gear to keep up with the horse! Finally we saw the delightful theatre productions at Fakasel Horse Park–including breathtaking paces along a wall of fire–and enjoyed a fine dinner and terrific shopping in their boutique.
Fabulous food all during the week, a hot tub right out the back door, and horses, horses, horses all around our cozy hotel means I’m looking forward to my next America2Iceland trip to Stadarhus! Check out the photos from this trip!
Written by Nancy Marie Brown