by Jón Örn Vilhjámsson
I've been with Siggi and Ólöf for three summers and I'll always remember the first tour. At least the first mistakes and how you learn to herd the horses. The thing is, it always looked so easy but there are so many traps. And I picked one right away on my very first tour as a member of the staff.
No matter if on land or on the beach the lead riders have to find a pace which keeps the horses interested and focused in going forward. If the lead riders are too fast, they lose the group. If they are too slow the horses have time to play tricks on each other or simply overrun the leaders. In all cases the horses would go their own way.
On the beach there is another thing influencing the behavior of the horses. When horses are on the beach they tend to move back towards land, because land (food, water and space to escape) means safety while beach (lack of food, water and escape possibilities) does not make them feel comfortable.
So we often have a rider alongside the herd to push them back to the sand and towards the sea. Halldór sent me out to the flank to be ready to do this job, and I misunderstood my purpose and went so far I was closer to lead the horses and to land than pushing them back. So Halldór sent Hildur to switch with me, because when about 80 horses are running there is no time for long discussions or explanations – it just has to be done. Seeing her doing it the right way I realized what I was doing wrong.
Herding a lose running herd of horses is a combination of pull and push and it needs both the right timing and the right intention to make it smooth and easy-looking and relaxed for everybody.
Short clip of a beach ride at Löngufjörur: https://www.kalfalaekur.is/gallery