Everybody loves the Icelandic horse. Are you ready for the most popular horse event of the year? The National Icelandic Horse Competition, Landsmót hestamanna, is the largest outdoor sporting event in Iceland. During the week-long festival, over 100 volunteers and 200 staff work together to create the best horse racing and breeding competitions. On Sunday, July 1, there is free entrance to the festival.
The first National Icelandic Horse Competition was organised in Þingvellir National Park in 1950 and has been held at rotating locations in Iceland ever since. It was first organised every four years and turned into a bi-annual event in 1995. Since 2001, it’s organised every year, run by Landsmót hestamanna ehf. The event has been a success since the start, with a record of 14,000 visitors in 2014.
The riding competition, gæðingakeppni, is the most important part of the festival. Riders of all ages and their horses join a competition during which they have to show all five gaits of the Icelandic horse: tölt, trot, walk, gallop and pace. The top ten of each class then takes part in a prizing ceremony. The climax of the competition is the Tölt Competition, in which riders compete for the Landsmót Tölt Champion title.
Next to this, the best breeding stallions are rated and judged based on their offspring, and awarded the prestigious Sleipnisbikarinn (Sleipnir Trophy). The handmade silver trophy is about 150 years old and very valuable. It was first awarded in 1947.
The festival is the best opportunity to see the cream of the crop!
Over the years, the National Icelandic Horse Competition has become a much-loved country festival, featuring a large campsite, a country market, food stands and children playgrounds. Different Icelandic entertainers will perform during the event, and confirmed acts include Magni Ásgeirsson, JóiPé x Króli, Pálmi Sigurhjartarson, Stebbi Jak and Jón Þorsteinn Reynisson.
The National Icelandic Horse Competition takes place from July 1-8 at riding centre and animal hospital Víðidalur, just at the border of Reykjavík. Check out the website of The National Icelandic Horse Competition for detailed day programmes and tickets. Week passes, weekend passes and day passes are for sale.