Gústi lives with his family in Myrkholt, right between Geysir and Gulfoss, two of the highlights of the famous Golden Circle. They live there with their border collies Píla and Lappi, some sheep and of course a number of Icelandic horses. Including the breeding mares and foals there are between 70 and 80 of them around.
Now in wintertime a typical day starts with feeding the horses that are currently in the stable for training. And then using the daylight we have in Iceland for training young horses and horses that are for sale, he adds. Two times a week, they need to drive further to the herd that is living outside in the winter time, and bring them hey, since they don’t find enough food themselves outside in winter. Icelandic winters are tough, but Icelandic horses are tougher, Gusti says with a smile.
Asked if he has a favourite horse he has to think. This is a hard one, there are so many different characters close to your heart over the years. At this very moment it is one mare, Sunna. It is probably, because she was difficult and wild in the beginning. It took me a couple of years just to get her to trust me. But now we are in sync, like she can read my mind. Sunna has a good blood line so now I’m using her for breeding, to get more horses like her.
Gústi grew up in the area around Gullfoss can’t remember a time when he was not riding. I’ve been riding since I was a small kid. My first memory is from when I was 4 or 5 years old: I remember the name of this horse Garpur (meaning ´Hero´), one of my parents’ horses. Garpur was big and strong and I was really small, he always stood still so I could use a fence to get up.
He has always been riding around the area, Geysir, Gullfoss, but mainly further North into the Kjolur plateau. This is a very special area and right there, over the plateau and in between the glaciers Langjökull and Hofsjökull goes one of the oldest riding routes in Iceland. Already the first settlers used this route to cross the highlands from North to South on their way to the annual parliament meeting in Thingvellir. The tours Gústi is organising today take the same route like the Vikings did 1000 years ago. They don’t stay in tents, but in mountain huts on the way, but otherwise it is not much of a difference, the extraordinary landscape is the same.
There is nothing as stunning as mid Iceland and Kjölur is my favourite, it’s so wild and untouched. There are many places in Kjölur that I love but nothing is as special as Kjalhraun. There you have a view towards the North and the South part of Iceland and to the big glacier Hofsjökull in the East and Langjökull in the West and you are right in the middle.
The most exciting part is to ride freely in the wilderness with a loose herd. It’s the freedom and also being able to travel like our ancestors and find the Viking heart beating. The perfect horse for this kind of adventure needs to be with good hoofs and legs. Forward thinking with a good and fast tölt. Strong body building with a big chest, to have enough space for the lungs.
Asked if he ever gets tired of riding, Gusti laughs: This is easy! The answer is no. Icelandic horses are so special and have so much character. There is always a new horse that makes riding interesting and you are always experiencing something new.
Gusti loves taking riders from all over the world to his special places: ‘On every trip I take there is always something interesting/funny or special going on. Meeting interesting people from all over the world who share the same love for the Icelandic horses is always a great experience.’
For us Gústi and Jónina operate the tours:
I definitely recommend this trip with Ishestar, it was the perfect tour. The horses, the people, the food, the beautiful landscape and even the weather was just fantastic. I was on the Kjölur tour from Myrkholt farm for a week, and found our guides extremely helpful. The group was really nice to ride with and the horses were amazing! I can’t wait to do this again!
Isabella, 21, Denmark, who took this tour with her sister in 2020
If I have to focus on just three things that made this tour so special for me it would be the friendly atmosphere and the kindness and personal attention of our hosts, Gústi and Jónína, the wonderfully strong, willing and gentle horses, and of course the dramatic and varied landscape, riding willing horses that need only the slightest hint to change pace and also offer the great comfort of the tölt.
Graham, 63, UK, who took two tours in 2019 and 2020