Get insights into working with Icelandic horses in Iceland:
Dear Hannah, thank you for your time to share your journey and experiences in Iceland with us!
UNDRA: Would you like to tell us who you are, where you are from and what you are currently doing in Iceland?
Hannah: Hey, I’m Hannah Stolz and I live close to Cologne. I’ve been riding for the Rhineland youth team since 2014. Last year I graduated from high school and then spent 2 months in South Africa. Now, I’m working in Iceland at Kviarholl with Vidar Ingolfsson. This is in southern Iceland near Selfoss, about an hour from Reykjavik.
UNDRA: How did you prepare for the work and the trip to Iceland? What did you know about the local conditions before you left?
Hannah: I didn’t prepare that much until it was time to pack. I knew that I would have something like a small apartment, as well as a car at my disposal. Shortly before I left, I was told to work and live in Iceland with another girl my age. And we already knew each other! What a coincidence.
I didn’t really know what was expected of me and what my workload was like. It was clear that although independent work is expected, I can always ask for support when working with the horses.
Due to the cold weather, I equipped myself a little better in terms of clothing beforehand. I still needed warm shoes. Most of thick clothes though, I disinfected and then vacuumed.
UNDRA: How was the trip to Iceland and how did you get to your destination?
Hannah: The trip to Iceland was actually not that easy. I didn’t have a direct flight and my first flight was delayed and then even cancelled. So we went to the airport hotel in Düsseldorf for a few hours overnight. I then got another flight via Copenhagen the next morning.
When I arrived in Iceland, nobody was able to pick them up because young horses had disappeared. It then went with two buses from Keflavik to Reykjavik. And finally, I made it. Normally, it is supposed to be less complicated.
UNDRA: What was your first impression of Iceland in “real”? Did your expectations come true, or was it very different?
Hannah: My expectations were more than fulfilled!! It was freezing cold, so everything was frozen and looked beautiful. As the Icelandic people are very friendly, I immediately felt very welcome.
UNDRA: What does your day-to-day work looks like in Iceland? Have you been able to see a bit of Iceland yet?
Hannah: The day in the stable starts at 8 a.m. with stable work. Around half past nine or ten o’clock we start with training the horses all day and have a one-hour lunch break.
We’re free from 6 p.m., but the work usually lasts a little later. But I always only realize how long I’ve been in the stable when I’m really done. At the weekends, we only have to do the stable work and as we are two workers, we can split it up. So, I have every other weekend off and I’ve already made full use of these days by traveling around the county or meeting up with other workers from the farms around. I think is very important in order to have a balance outside of work.
UNDRA: Do you feel that there is a difference between the horses in Iceland compared to those being in Germany? Is the training in Iceland different?
Hannah: I don’t think the horses are much different compared to Germany. But what I feel is that the level of good horses is higher and broader. Right from the start I noticed that the horses in the stable were all very well ridden. But I also don’t feel that the training itself is much different.
However, what I actually feel is that the Icelanders approach most situations in a much relaxed and uncomplicated manner. I would also say that the training is much more straight forward and consistent without being unfair to the horses.
UNDRA: What do you keep in mind when training your horses back in Germany? Will you change your approach at home?
Hannah: I’ve learned a lot about permeability and I’m sure I’ll be able to apply this to my training at home, since my influence here has certainly changed my rising style a bit. It’s also much easier for me to be consistent and to find the right time to let go and to lose reins.
UNDRA: What is the most valuable experience you can take away from Iceland? What has influenced you the most so far?
Hannah: What I notice most, which is also something I noticed during my time in South Africa, is that I’ve matured during the time abroad. Of course, I’ve also noticed that I’ve become more independent in dealing with the horses in general.
UNDRA: Dear Hannah, be honest: are you now also fallen for Iceland? Will you come back soon?
Hannah: Iceland definitely got me. I was already fallen for this country after an exchange in 2019. But now I’m planning to come back very soon. Again for work, but of course also as a tourist. Everyone should get to know this special country and the people!
Thank you, dear Hannah, for your insights and your time!
Pictures: Hannah Stolz
Hannahs Instagram Account
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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