I was somewhere between French Guyana and Brazil when my roomate in Reykjavik forwarded me a job advertisement for my dream job – get paid to ride horses. I exchanged some emails and then had an interview over the phone from a smeltering phone booth in Asuncion. The connection was staticky, with a half second lag, and my Icelandic kept creeping into spanish, but somehow I convinced Magnus to hire me.
the hestasport horses at Vindheimar
I arrived back in Reykjavik for maybe 8 hours before packing my bags and moving to Varmahlid. I stopped in Borgarnes overnight and then hitchiked the next 250kms. My first pick up, a young Icelandic couple, asked where I was going and when I answered “Varmahlid,” invited me to join. We drove about 30kms before the driver asked me where abouts this ‘farm’ Varmahlid was… he had no idea it was actually a town 2 hours away. So, I got kicked out at Bifrost 5 mins later where their journey ended, and finally made it all the way with my next pickup.
I moved into a house of women, (well, German girls) and acquainted myself with all the pretty ponies Hesasport has. There were, like in any herd, the safe old horses, the crazy young ones, the lazy trained ones, and the question mark horses you had to figure out for yourself. We spent the end of May taking short riding tours around the Vindheimar farm, and two long tours in the begining of June riding past Maelifell and into Kjolur. Its a desolate highland, covered in desert, and sandwiched between 2 glaciers. The first tour we took had more staff than guests, since the 3 German riders wanted to take the whole herd into the mountains to shoot pictures for an Icelandic landscape calendar. We often stopped in the middle of nowhere to do a mini photo shoot, that required us to act as stuntmen and chase 20 loose horses down steep soggy slopes or gallop the whole herd through a river.
beside Langjokull glacier
Later we took a 5 day trip with a whole bunch of borrowed horses, many of them question mark horses we had to try out for the first time and hope it worked out as the herd was released. Then the third long trip went pretty smoothly, except for this poor Canadian girl who fell off her horse 3 times on the first day. Thankfully she made it through the rest of the trip, since she was part of the staff. Our cook also joined us on one trip riding, and fell off his own horse twice, which thankfully turned out okay too since we certainly wanted to keep on eating.
My last long trip was a 3 day tenting trip with 2 Danish girls. We took 6 horses and enough food, bathed in the frigid rivers, and survived a wind storm in a mountain hut that at one point we thought would blow away in the middle of the night. The first night we crashed a party at the Arctic Adventures river rafting base, and ended our trip at Fosslaug natural hot pot, very deservedly.
Then my season at Hesasport ended early, with my Ishestar friends from the east irresistably inviting me on a few long tours – a 6-day pack tour and a 9 day special tour from Hofn to Egilstadir. Just when I had finally figured out all the horses at Hesasport, I hitchhiked east to a herd of 103 horses I now had to learn and love just as much.