A hero video for the Icelandic horse premiered recently and has garnered a lot of attention. Professionals of various genres and star-studded horses played their part in the project.
Excitement is in the air. It’s 21st November, a frosty winter’s day, and a crowd has gathered in the old opera house in downtown Reykjavík for the premiere of a hero video for the Icelandic horse. Created by advertising agency Tjarnargatan for Horses of Iceland, the project has been several months in the making and participants are eager to see the results. The video will be one of the main pillars of the Horses of Iceland marketing project. Among guests are Icelandic Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir. The Icelandic state is one of the project’s largest sponsors.
The video’s director Arnar Helgi Hlynsson and co-writer of the screenplay Sigtryggur Magnason take the stage and talk about the ideology behind the project. They had discussed different approaches before agreeing on making a “car commercial” for the Icelandic horse. Arnar states that the video is to demonstrate that the Icelandic horse is “the world’s most badass” but at the same time highlight its qualities. “Our country, culture and history are manifested in the Icelandic horse,” states Arnar. “It’s also sweet-natured, as the video reveals. The Icelandic horse is our greatest ambassador.”
The three-minute video shows three riders sprinting their horses outside in the Icelandic nature, across grassy fields, black sands and a big river. The pristine white Eyjafjallajökull glacier looms in the distance. A traditional-style Icelandic rímur song is played in the background. Written by Kjartan Hólm, the score references the cultural heritage and the fact that the Icelandic horse has been with the Icelanders since settlement. The riders are all professionals and all three horses have good lineage and have fared well in tournaments.
The white horse is stallion Sólfaxi frá Sámsstöðum with a main score of 8.18. He is the offspring of Sólon frá Skáney and Sóldögg frá Akureyri. Sólfaxi is owned by Brynja Viðarsdóttir and he is also her competition horse. His rider is Sigvaldi Lárus Guðmundsson. The black one is first-prize mare Árdís frá Litlalandi with a main score of 8.22. Her parents are Krákur frá Blesastöðum 1A and Rán frá Litlalandi. Árdís is owned by Hrafntinna, the company of Sveinn Samúel Steinarsson and Jenný Dagbjört Erlingsdóttir. The red horse is gelding Háfeti frá Litlu-Sandvík. His parents are Flipi and Beta frá Litlu-Sandvík and his owner is Stefán Hauksson. Háfeti is primarily under the care of Katrín Stefánsdóttir and he’s also her competition horse. Apart from the three “main actors” there are a few horses in supporting roles.


Viewers are treated to spectacular bird’s-eye-view of the horses – from high up to give the Icelandic landscape a full chance to shine – but also to close-ups showing leg moves: gallop, flying pace, slow and fast tölt. The riding scenes were shot in Krýsuvík in Southwest Iceland, on the black beaches of Skógasandar, by the river Eystri-Rangá and mountains Pétursey and Þríhyrningur. The crew also used the riding hall at Ingólfshvoll in Ölfus and the treadmill at horse farm Auðsholtshjáleiga.
In between are scenes of a young girl caressing her four-legged friend. They are Lilja Rún Sigurjónsdóttir, nine years old, and six-year old bay stallion Smyrill frá Stokkseyrarseli with a main score of 8.32. Smyrill was one of the last foals by legendary stallion Orri frá Þúfu and his mother is Rák frá Halldórsstöðum. The young and promising stallion’s owners are Lena Zielinski, Ragnhildur H. Sigurðardóttir and Sigurður Torfi Sigurðsson.
Lilja is also considered to be promising, both as an actress and as a rider. “It was a lot of fun,” she says with a shy smile. The video was her first part on the big screen. Lilja has many horses with her family and when we meet, there are only two weeks until the riding season starts, something she obviously eagerly awaits. “I go riding as often as I can,” she says. When asked whether she wants to be an actress when she grows up, Lilja responds with a “maybe” but she is definitely planning to work with horses. As Lilja turns ten next year, she can start competing in the junior league.
“Working with animals usually lengthens the shooting process,” says Arnar. “But when we were filming outside in nature, everything ran smoothly. However, when we were filming inside, the horses quickly lost their concentration.” Arnar shows a clip of the bay stallion and the girl where he yawns and rubs against her. Laughter breaks out. “This shows how connected to nature the horses are,” Arnar maintains.
Watch the video:
Text: Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir. Photos: Marta Gunnarsdóttir and Tjarnargatan.


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