Icelandic Horses in Australia

The WM is over and we had an amazing time. We got some new friends that have quite similar story with Icelandic horses as us and this country is Australia. Yes, we said this site is about Icelandic horses in Slovenia, but we were so amazed that Australia also came to WM that we decided that we want to share something about them. The article is written by Laura Hall-Smith. We hope you will enjoy and like the article. We are all about Team Australia at Herning 2021.

15,000kms away from Slovenia, tucked away at the bottom of the world, is Australia where 262 Icelandic Horses call home. Icelandic Horses in Australia you may ask?! How do they cope with the heat? How do you get them there? What do you do with them? Well I can answer all those questions for you!

Laura on Falinn with one of hers dog Lynch who is an Australian Kelpie (they’re a working dog typically used for sheep work).

By way of introduction my name is Laura Hall-Smith and I live in big gum country in the Barossa in South Australia. Between my mum Gillian and I we currently own 4 Icelandic Horses, Gledi a 4 year old 5 gaited mare we bred, Ara who is Gledi’s dam, Tomas a 9 year old 5 gaited gelding and Roskur a 5 year old 4 gaited gelding . Our property, Pennys Road, also boasts a boutique B&B where our guests can meet the horses and get to know all about Icelandics here in Australia!

I have always loved Icelandic Horses. Mum was placed as an exchange student on an Icelandic Horse stud in Denmark, Sutteri Legind, when she was 17 years old and remained close friends with the Sorensen family through the years. Our family holidays were often to Denmark, where we would tolt through the forest backing onto the stud. It was pure magic! Mums dream had always been to own her own Icelandic Horse, but, we didn’t think they were in Australia and couldn’t afford to import one (costs about 15,000 euro!). One evening however mum did a quick google search and Haldane Icelandic Horses appeared, the first to import horses to Australia. There were horses here after all! In no time flat we contacted the Haldanes and in 2010 Mum bought her dream horse from them, Ara, a blue dun 5 gaited mare. It didn’t take long for me to follow mums lead and buy my first Icelandic Horse, also from Haldane, Falinn, a 4 gaited gelding.

Tomas, 9 years old 5-gated gelding.

Falinn is now owned by Birgit Kossmann from Great Ocean Road Icelandics, who is Australia’s top trainer and one of the most influential promoters of the breed here. I don’t think there is a riding discipline Falinn hasn’t done! We don’t have Icelandic Horse competitions here in Australia yet, with Australia being such a vast country and not all that many horses under saddle, so they’re used for all sorts of disciplines. From trail riding and endurance to jumping and dressage you’ll find the horses taking on all sorts of challenges in Australia!

Birgit on Falinn and Laura on Tomas at Equitana Melbourne 2018.

Now to the World Championships. Birgit and I travelled to Berlin this year to volunteer at the Icelandic Horse World Championships and to let the world know Australia had horses and that we are keen to join the wider Icelandic Horse community. David and Cathy Harris, owners of Megalong Icelandics in NSW also came and set up a stand in the new Tolt the World display which was fabulous! To say our journey to Berlin was a success is an understatement. We received an overwhelming response from all corners of the community. The wonderful volunteers, stall owners, riders, breeders, judges and everyone in between were so excited to hear about the horses in Australia, that they cope fine in our summers and that there is a growing population of them here. The amount of support that we received about the idea of Australia fielding a team for the Icelandic Horse World Championsips in 2021 was also huge, and is now something we are seriously striving towards. Watch out world!

Wind of heaven blows between horses ears.

One of the highlights was of course meeting team Slovenia and learning not only about the horses, people and association there but also about the country. I am definitely planning a trip to Slovenia now! Our door is of course always open to anyone wanting to visit Australia. I can promise you delicious meals, plenty of great wine, kangaroos abounding and good honest Australian country!

In the meantime I will continue to promote the breed here in Australia with my wonderful horses, and work towards team Australia at Herning 2021!