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Posted on November 26, 2015
The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented and experienced riding guides from around the world. Here, we have an article written by Magnus Sigmundsson from Iceland.
1. How long have you been a riding guide?
2. Did you do any guiding before becoming involved with Hestasport?
No, I learned first to guide and lead horse tours from old friends, Björn Sveinsson and Ragnar Stefánsson. I grew up in the countryside of Skagafjörður, in north Iceland. Our valley is often called “The valley of the horses” because history and breeding of the Icelandic horse is very connected to this place, all the way back to the time of settlement. I studied to be a marine engineer and sailed between the harbours of the world for many years, but the countryside and horses were always on my mind.
3. How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?
Sveinn, the father of Björn was a very good friend of my father and we can say that he started long horse riding tours in Iceland in 1974 when he rode with a group of 13 riding guests from Switzerland across Iceland from North to South. Of course people have travelled on horseback all around the world for thousands of years, but this way Sveinn was the “founder of Hestasport”.
I was fascinated with everything connected to these tours. The horses were beautiful and in great shape, the adventurous riding trails surrounded by the untouched highlands of Iceland were breath taking. To me horse riding is like a dance between two different worlds. Therefore it was especially great to see how much horse people from other countries enjoyed exactly this feeling, when riding the unique gated horses in the Icelandic nature. The Icelandic horse is the only breed in Iceland and as far as we know, the only naturally five gaited horse breed in the world. So for a long time Icelanders didn’t realise how unique this breed had developed on the island, since the first settlers brought it here.
4. If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?
I liked to be a sailor, but I have always been a nature “lover”. I was interested in the idea of sharing nature experience with other people by building up tourism in Iceland and especially in my area, the Skagafjord, where so many possibilities were not yet discovered.
5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?
To open possibilities for other people to experience the same exciting and fun things that I love so much. To enjoy the horses in the wild Icelandic nature and create some unforgettable memories.
Guiding and organising horse tours is a huge physical and mental effort. But of course it is also fulfilling and lots of fun and that’s also where the energy comes from that I need!
6. If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?
After so many years of guiding horse tours it is a bit hard to make a difference between many unforgettable good horses that were my favourites. Every single one of them had it’s own unique characteristics. I adore horses that are courageous, soft, strong, willing to work and know where to put down their feet. Many of them are gone but I am happy to mention: Taktur, Búi, Gimsteinn, Jarpur and . . . and . . . what about comparing them to . . . Rolando! 😉
7. What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?
I need to be alone every once in a while.
8. What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?
A lot of years ago we were riding the Kjölur route across the country on a six day tour, with 13 guests who were all men from the Faroe Islands that were all relatives and friends. This tour was memorable for a lot of reasons. I will gladly tell you the stories of this trip when we meet in Iceland.
9. How do you relax after a day in the saddle?
After a long horse trip I like to go for a walk and then relax in the hot tub.
10. What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?
Use those good years and gain some more knowledge and experience from lots of places.
11. Where do you go on holiday?
I love to visit warm countries with a lot of sunshine. Last year I was in Nepal to visit good friends.
Thank you Magnus for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.
You can meet Magnus from Iceland at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.
38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.