The spotlight shone brighter than ever on the Icelandic horse at Sweden International Horse Show held in late November, early December. The show is one of the country’s largest equine affairs, attracting around 80,000 attendees. For the past three years, Horses of Iceland has cooperated with SIF (Svenska Islandshästförbundet) – the Swedish Icelandic Horse Association on a promotional programme and stand for the Icelandic Horse at the show. At the stand, people could win a trip to Iceland with Icelandair and a riding tour in Iceland with Íslandshestar. They could also watch videos of the Icelandic horse, browse through brochures and promotional material from HOI partners and immerse themselves into the world of Icelandic horses in stunning scenery with a virtual reality headset. A few companies promoting products and services related to the Icelandic horse were also present at the show.
At this year’s show, HOI promoted the Icelandic horse even more extensively than in previous years. A tölt competition was held, primarily sponsored by HOI and Uhip (a Swedish riding gear brand). Eight world-class riders participated: Jóhann R. Skúlason (IS), Katie Brumpton Sundin (FI), Gabrielle Severinsen (NO), Eyjólfur Þorsteinsson (SE), Lisa Drath (DE), Bernt Severinsen (NO), Vignir Jónasson (SE) and Anne Baslev (DK).
World champions Jóhann R. Skúlason and Finnbogi frá Minni-Reykjum ended up winning the tölt competition with a final score of 9.11. Vignir Jónasson came second with 8.22 and Eyjólfur Þorsteinsson third with 7.83. Five international judges were judges at the competition. Ms. Estrid Brekkan, Iceland’s Ambassador to Sweden, handed out the prizes. Notably, the Icelandic horse tölt competition is one of the few events from the horse show that are broadcast live on the Swedish national broadcaster, which reaches more than one million viewers. Synchronized riding with Icelandic horses was demonstrated on the main stage and Sweden’s highest rated Icelandic stallions of each age category were presented.
Horses of Iceland also organised a fun and unusual demonstration called “A horse is a horse” with famous horse trainer Julio Borba. He gave instructions to two riders, Olil Amble who rode Icelandic stallion Álffinnur frá Syðri-Gegnishólum and Kerstin Dahlberg who rode a Lusitano stallion. They demonstrated dressage exercises and their effect on the horses. At the end of the demonstration they switched horses and it was interesting to observe how easy it was for them to ride the other horse; a breed they weren’t used to.
The Swedish Icelandic Horse Breeding Association (SIF Avel) organised a lecture and Q&A with Olil Amble, where she answered questions about how to breed a quality Icelandic riding horse. Legendary stallion Mökkur frá Varmalæk, who is 34 years old, was demonstrated and proved quite the hit, especially among younger visitors.
At the Sweden International Horse Show all the horse breeds that exist in Sweden are on show. Visitors are asked to vote electronically for their favourite breed and this year, they voted the Icelandic horse – which has once before proven the show’s most popular breed.
Text: Þórdís Anna Gylfadóttir: Photos: Mette Sattrup.