Introducing Katrin Sif einarsdottir, guide extraordinaire for our incredible Wilderness Expedition and the Touch of the Highlands Ride in Iceland. Kat’s passion and love for her home country and the wonderful Icelandic horse shines through as brightly as a clear day in the Icelandic highlands. Rest assured, globetrotters, if you have the unique pleasure of riding with the herd alongside Kat and the rest of the team in Iceland, the experience will stay with you forever after. Let’s get to know Katrin a little better, shall we?
How long have you been guiding for your riding outfit in Iceland? And what was the background, history, reason for starting?
I’ve been riding with long-tour horse companies since 2009, and guiding since 2011. In 2009 an Icelandic horse farmer friend/student colleague who was at the University of Iceland, studying ecotourism with me, needed some help with his homework. In exchange, I asked to help him with his summer horse tours around the Golden Circle and Landmannalaugar (both are popular 6 day riding tours in the south of Iceland).
How many guest horses do you work with?
I’ve worked with six or seven different horse farms/farmers, each with maybe 100 horses. I must know at least half of their horses, since they change the herds for each long tour and I only take two or three long tours with each farmer each summer.
Describe your herd of horses in four words:
(Kat couldn’t help herself. This question gave her the perfect chance to talk about her own beloved horses!)
I have a herd of three – an old red one that comes when I call, but has been retired off long tours, a young crazy one that’s still too silly to start training, and my old faithful, Mjölnir, a.k.a. Hercules, my personal highland limousine that I always take with me.
What is the philosophy or ethos behind your horse riding experiences?
Every horse has a different personality and mood, just like its rider, so there’s no such thing as a perfect rider or the best horse, only the optimal matchmaking of horse and rider. That’s my job – to find the swipe to the right.
What do you love most about your job?
Being in the mountains or desert, surrounded by more horses than people and a handful of others that share my passion for riding (and usually Iceland, at least by the end of the trip), means that every trip is an intimate, unique and special experience. I also love getting to know people over the week – long tours are so different than one- or two-hour riding trips. I also enjoy the social aspect: singing, eating, drinking, playing games and just genuinely shutting off and being on a journey together… I might even go so far as to call it a vacation myself.
What is the most challenging part?
The safety issues and risk of injury. Horses are animals with their own minds and are never 100% trustworthy, as well as the weather and riding trail conditions, which can get more or less difficult, making every trip a special case.
Why should globetrotters sign up for this ride?
Because there are not many places left in the world (if there are any at all) where you can ride with a free-running herd with the largest glacier in Europe in sight (and the second and third largest glaciers in Iceland too).
A tip that every globetrotter must know before signing up for this ride:
Summer in Iceland is (usually) like winter anywhere else, but if you don’t like the weather, we say ‘just wait five minutes’ because that’s how unpredictable and diverse mother nature can be in the Icelandic highlands.
Finish this sentence: Don’t leave home without…
A positive, can-do attitude and the ability to turn off and get dirty – hot showers, electricity and 3G are not the point of travelling, especially not on a horse tour in Iceland.
What has been the most memorable or significant moment of your guiding career?
Helping riders through their fear – of heights, nights, mud, rivers, whatever – it’s always amazing to see people conquer and face their demons in the spirit of riding, wanting to enjoy every moment of it and trusting their horses and guides.
Anything else you would like to add?
Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi!
If you’re keen to drive a free-running herd of Icelandic horses alongside Kat you MUST check out our rides in Iceland: the Wilderness Expedition and the Touch of the Highlands Ride. Iceland needs to be at the top of your horse riding bucket list!