Now, this is a much-discussed topic here in Iceland, perfectly suited for small talk with everyone you pass on the street. We have two types of winters here, the mild, wet, gray, unpleasant, but harmless kind that we had last year and the exciting kind with drop-dead gorgeous, sunny winter days, sparkling powdery snow, the low-hanging winter sun dipping the world in beautiful shades of gold, orange and rosy pink, but alternating with severe, blinding snow storms, snow drifts too high to climb over, sometimes building up in minutes, impassable roads and very real issues with getting from A to B.
This particular winter is of the second variety. While we had plenty of the absolutely glorious days, we are also experiencing quite a few of the others. The riding paths (along with everything else) have disappeared under much more snow than in previous years and our fuzzy winter horses in their thick coats are well equipped to brave the elements. In fact, this type of weather suits them much better than last year’s icy rain. Their winter coat consists of two layers; the shorter down-like bottom layer insulates them well and keeps them warm and toasty and the longer top layer with an integrated lotus effect prevents the wooly undercoat from getting wet. Unless it rains persistently. During the bad winter storms, temperatures usually drop well below freezing and while the people are struggling, the horses are rather unimpressed. They simply turn their chubby behinds into wind direction and go on with their business, i.e. eating. In such harsh conditions, they need more food than they would otherwise and we make sure there is plenty for everyone, of course.
Managing access to the stables and our hotel requires some heavy-duty equipment and hard physical labor. We at Eldhestar love the challenges winter time brings and enjoy seeing our efforts rewarded by laughing, rosy-cheeked guests, who are dashing through the snow on horseback during the day and cuddle up near the fireplace in the evenings, armed with a hot drink and a cozy woolen blanket.
Winter is also the time we bring our youngsters in for training. It gives us great pleasure to watch them mature and develop and we are proud to report on their progress. Our 4-year-old mares Hrímey and Hjör show quite a bit of promise and we are hoping to present them for overall evaluation, come spring. Their friend Eldey might join them to be judged for conformation before striving for overall evaluation in spring 2019. From the 5-year-olds, we hope to present our Sinfonía, who is Sónata’s little sister. You might remember Sónata from last year, she was presented for full assessment as a 5-year-old and received first-price mare status. Sónata is expecting her first foal and enjoys her maternity leave together with our other breeding mares. If you have followed the news on Sónata last year, you are also familiar, with Vallarsól, who received exceptionally high marks as a 4-year-old last year. She has already joined Jakob Svavar Sigurðsson for training and will be presented with the 5-year old mares this year. She has matured a lot over the last year, both physically and emotionally and should be strong enough to show pace this year. For Vallarsól, aptly named “the sun of Vellir” (Vellir is the name our farm is known under in the Icelandic community), the last descendant of an old bloodline of excellent horses, we have high hopes. Very, very high. Potentially even the highest.