“There are a few years since it was taken, or on 23 December, 2014.
We, the farmers from around here, drive a large herd of horses up to the mountain above the valley for grazing as of 1 July every year. In early October, we round them up and take young horses, mares with foals and [other horses with special feeding requirements] back home to the farms. Healthy, grown-up horses are released to the mountain again and are usually fetched in December, weather depending.
That year, the weather had been rather bad, quite a lot of snowfall and visibility unusually poor. We therefore decided to round up the horses early, but then it turned out that quite a few were missing, or about 60. We went looking for them, on two occasions on snowmobiles, and we also hiked the mountain and tried scanning it with binoculars whenever possible, but we couldn’t find them.
When Christmas was coming up, I decided enough was enough and asked a friend of mine, who is a pilot and has access to a small airplane, to fly over the mountain and help us find the horses. With continued bad weather, we had to wait a few days before we could take off. Finally, the weather cleared up for a little while and we flew off – by then it was 22 December.
It didn’t take us long to find them. They were considerably high up in the mountain in a little dell where they seemed comfortable enough, although there wasn’t much grass left. We hurried back and organized a mission for the day after to bring them back home.
In the morning of 23 December, we sent two men on snowmobiles to try and drive them down the mountain. They found the horses following our descriptions, but the horses flatly refused to move; they thought the snow was too deep and the conditions risky.
The guys on the snowmobiles quickly realised that this wouldn’t work out and drove back as fast as they could, picked up me and Ríkharður Hafdal and drove us to the herd. We caught hold of one horse each – horses we knew well and were certain could handle the tough conditions – and set off, wading through the snow.
After that, we didn’t have to push them, they were eager to get home, and after 2-3 hours of trudging, men and horses made it. Everyone was sweaty and tired but healthy as horses!
I took the photo while we were plodding through the snow, out of breath. I looked back to check on the herd and noticed how amazing it looked. I didn’t have the chance to stop, just pulled out my phone and snapped a picture, raising my arm above my head. Then I stuffed the phone back in my pocked and continued walking. I didn’t discover the photo until a few days later.
That is Ríkharður Hafdal and the horse Krapi at the front and then the entire herd follows, 60 horses in total!”
Skjaldarvík offers horse trips, accommodation and catering: skjaldarvik.is.