Get to know Vibeke Thoresen!
UNDRA: Vibeke, would you like to introduce yourself?
Vibeke: My name is Vibeke Thoresen and I´m 25 years old. I am from southwest of Norway, but I have always enjoyed travelling and have therefore moved around quite a bit in Norway during high school. Ten days after my final exam in high school I moved to Iceland! It was actually very spontaneous as I had no relationship to Icelandic horses at all. While I lived in Norway, I used to ride showjumpers for the Olympic Rider Geir Gulliksen, but I´ve also spent a lot of time with harness racing, liberty and academic dressage. I dreamed of getting educated in the horse business so I could continue working with horses at a professional level later in life too. Through many small moments I got information about the Icelandic world. I was very lucky to be an intern at Cathrine Fodstad/Ride Like A Viking who is an educated riding teacher from Holar, she let me try her Icelandic horses, mention the bachelor degree at Holar and that was lying in my subconsciousness for two years. Along with her, another riding teacher I´ve had, Sofi Dybvad, also opened about this culture for me with her harmonious horsemanship with her Icelandic horses. Both of these women have been very strong idols for me since I got to know them in 2014. In 2015 when I finished high school I moved to Iceland and started working at Lundar Horse Breeding in West-Iceland. Where my Icelandic adventure started.
UNDRA: When did you move to Iceland and when did you then start to study at Hólar ?
Vibeke: I moved to Iceland the summer of 2015 and worked for one year at Lundar Horse Breeding. There I gained a lot of experience and knowledge from my great former boss Sigbjörn Björnsson. He let me start up young stallions, find the tölt in young horses, ride sports- and gæðinga competions on experienced horses and old masters like Auður frá Lundum, the first horse in the world to get 10 for canter in FIZO.
After one year of taking my first steps in the Icelandic Horse World I got accepted into Holar to the riding- and riding instructor programme. The entry exam today includes: saddling up the horse, mount the horse with and without stirrups and/or girth, ride all gaits except pace in straight lines, circles, serpentines and more. Show all the seats (three point-, two point- and classical seat). Also a few exercises such as leg yield in walk at the diagonal, speed changes in tölt and canter on a 20m circle. We also do a short physical test of running 120m on time, deliver a riding film and go to an Icelandic speaking interview as the university programme is taught in Icelandic. The students need to understand, speak and write Icelandic. The better you know it, the easier it is and the more you learn.
UNDRA: Vibeke, thank you very much for all information and insights! Would you like to give us an impression of what you are working on now? -Let´s guess: it is still horse related of course?
Vibeke: I graduate in 2020 and started my master’s degree in Equine Science the same year. Along with my MSc studies, I have been working with horses part time too. I am working at Hestaland with Guðmar Þór Pétursson as a trainer. There I ride six horses before lunch + my own horse, Þrymur. It is an amazing job, the horses are super good and I really like working with such a strong team. After lunch I study from home, this semester I am only working on my MSc thesis which is named “Behavior in stabled horses – is it better to keep horses in individual or paired stalls and does welfare differ between horses inside the stable and free roaming horses?”. The aim is to get insight and measure time budgets and frequencies of behaviors which reflect both negative and positive behavior of horses kept indoors. The aim is also to assess the effect of keeping horses in single vs double stalls on welfare. By comparing the results to available data, both published (Sigurjonsdottir and Haraldsson 2019) and unpublished (provided by my supervisor Hrefna Sigurjónsdóttir), from groups kept in spacious pastures to the results from the time budget in my study, I hope to advice horse owners on how to keep horses in stalls without the horse’s welfare to be compromised too much. It has a great value for horse owners and is an important element for the welfare of horses.
Thank you, dear Vibeke, for your time and insights!
Images: Vibeke Thoresen
A land of fire and ice, with more sheep than inhabitants, characterized by a unique nature! This is just a brief description of such a diverse country. While a volcano may erupt on one side of the country, you can hike a glacier, admire the Northern Lights, or take a bath in a hot spring on the other side of the country - at the same time.
This not only speaks for diversity, but also for spontaneity, which is also reflected in the changeable weather in Iceland. A popular Icelandic saying is "If you do not like the current weather, just wait for five minutes".
In contrast to this inconsistency, one thing is constant and that is the enthusiasm for Icelandic horses! The Vikings brought horses to the island in the 9th century.
To find out more about Iceland, you can find travelogues, reports, or interesting facts here in the UNDRA Journal!
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