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Icelandic sisters at the top: "You have to be mentally strong to do this every day." 

Védís Huld
Védís Huld Sigurðardóttir and Krapi frá Fremri-Gufudal at Det Nordiske Mesterskab in Sweden in 2018.

The Icelandic sisters, Glódís Rún Sigurðardóttir and Védís Huld Sigurðardóttir are at the top in many ways. They compete among the best riders in Iceland and the rest of the world, living in the small cold country up in the north. Even though it requires hard work and self-discipline, the girls cannot see themselves doing anything else. 

Approximately 45 minutes southwest of Reykjavik lies Sunnuhvoll – a stable where two talented sisters spend most of their time with the beautiful Icelandic horses. The stable is surrounded by mountains and horses as far as the eye can see. They breed and train Icelandic horses and provide riding lessons with their parents and family. Neither of the girls has ever considered doing anything other than working with horses. 


"Our parents have always been involved with horses in one way or another, so we were born into it. I think we started competing when we were around six or seven years old," Glódís explains. 

In Iceland, most stables are connected to an indoor riding arena and a tackroom to avoid the sometimes harsh Icelandic weather. In 2016, Glódís and Védís' father built the stable for the girls, and everything seems to be well thought out. 

About Glódís Rún Sigurðardóttir and Védís Huld Sigurðardóttir

Glódís Rún Sigurðardóttir is 22 years old, and Védís Huld Sigurðardóttir is 20 years old. They have lived most of their lives around Hveragerði and Selfoss, where they attended primary and secondary school. They both recently graduated from high school and devoted all their time to the stable, Sunnuhvoll. They live there with their parents, and somehow everyone in the family is involved with the horses, including their older brother. Both girls are part of the Icelandic U21 team, competing at national and international level with different horses.

Organization above all 

Glódís and Védís has always ridden, and a big part of the credit goes to their parents. 

"Our mother was super organized, so we managed to handle everything. We also had a job when we were around 11 or 12 years old. Everything had to be carefully planned," Glódís explains. 

Although the girls had a very organized daily life when they were younger, juggling school, sports, music, and work, they still felt it all worked out. 

"We had many friends, but we did miss out on many things because of competitions. It might be hard to understand if you do not ride yourself. Therefore, it was easier to have friends who did the same thing. But we never felt like we had to give anything up because the horses were what we wanted to do – and still is," Glódís says. 

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Breki frá Austurási and Glódís Rún Sigurðardóttir.

When the girls began high school, they had to stop playing the piano, cello, and basketball to make more time for the horses. The expectations of the girls began to rise, and they needed to spend more time training and competing. Even when they had free time, it was all about the horses. Currently, Glódís and Védís each have approximately 10 to 15 horses they must ride and train every day of the week. 

Read also: The Icelandic horse: A versatile and friendly legend

"I think it was a bit too much for me last winter. I had to train 8 to 10 horses before lunch and then ride my own 13 horses afterwards. It was almost 20 horses per day. It started to feel like a machine, and it was not fun anymore," Glódís says. 

Saying goodbye to the horses 

When you have horses like Glódís and Védís do, you always know that at some point, you will have to say goodbye to them. For example, when they take their horses to competitions outside of Iceland, they cannot bring them back. 

"It can be a bit difficult. If you win, you must say goodbye to the horse the next morning," Védís explains. 

Rules for Exporting Icelandic Horses

Once you have taken your Icelandic horse away from Iceland, you cannot bring it back. This is a way to preserve the breed as close to the original horses the Vikings brought to Iceland over 1100 years ago.

"We carefully choose the people who buy our competition horses. We do not want just anyone to have them," Védís says. 

Even though the breeding, training, and riding are jobs for the girls and their family, a few horses still stay with them for a little longer. 

"I have had my horse Hrafnfaxi for about five or six years – and that is a long time here in Iceland. Maybe I will take him to the World Championship, but that would mean saying goodbye to him. I also have a horse that is 24 years old, and I competed with him when I was seven years old. Flóki will stay with me, but our friends at Kvíarhóll will borrow him. They have some children who can ride him because he is such a nice horse, but he will not compete in any more competitions," Védís explains. 

A sales deal or a World Champion? 

Undoubtedly, both girls – and their whole family – are very passionate about their horses, but they also have to make a living, which means they must sell their competition horses regularly. 

"Of course, you can make money from training horses, but the best business here is to buy the horses quite cheaply, put some training into them, and sell them at a higher price. The competition horses may stay with us for about three years," Glódís explains.  

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Védís Huld and Hrafnfaxi.

They have about 32 horses and have just added 15 new stalls to the stable. 

"If we go to the World Championship, we have to sell the horses that will go with us – and, for example, compete against them later in another World Championship. Therefore, the pressure is on to find the next big star fairly quickly," Glódís says. And that is tough because who would not want to keep a world champion? Like many other things, riding and selling horses are the hardworking girls' jobs.  

"I think about horses all day!" 

Neither of the girls can imagine doing anything other than working with horses, even though it is hard work all day long. 

"It is a lifestyle. It is so different from any other sport. Usually, we start at 8 in the morning – sometimes even earlier – and stay until 11 at night. It is not a 9-5 job, so you really have to love what you do," both Glódís and Védís agrees. It can be challenging not to get tired and burned out from the workload, but for both girls, working with horses is unique: 

"It is hard to explain what makes working with horses so special. I think it is a feeling. I really enjoy being around the horses and working with them as a team. I feel like I think about horses all day," Glódís explains. 

"When I lie in bed at night, I think about what I will do with the horses the next day or what we did during the day. It is just a huge passion I have for the horses and everything about them," Védís explains.  

Read also: Cook and Hunting Rider "Support means everything"

Therefore, education is not the most appealing thing for either of the girls right now, but they have both considered Hólar University in Northern Iceland where it is an option to study equine science. 

"For now, we have so many exciting things going on, that we are not ready to give up on it right now. But it would also be a good occasion to learn more about marketing and social media," Glódís says. But there are things about horses that education could never provide. 

"I think horses teach you so much about patience," Védís explains, and Glódís agrees: 

"I enjoy going to nature and spending time with the horses. They almost become your best friends." 

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Glódís Rún Sigurðardóttir.

Mental strength and extraordinary sisterhood 

Although most of the competitions for both Glódís and Védís are successful, things do not always go as planned, and that is probably recognizable across all equestrian sports. 

"When I competed at the World Championship in 2019, I was on top after the introductionary rounds, but then I was disqualified. The judges forgot to mark an old wound before the competition. Suddenly, it all felt like a waste," Glódís says. 

Handling such defeats requires mental strength, especially as a young rider. Sometimes, the two sisters compete against each other, they especially did during their younger years. Though it will change when Glódís turns 22 and moves into the senior classes. It may be odd for some riders to share the same car on the way home, especially if one did well and the other did not. But the two sisters are made of something entirely different: 

"We are just really happy for each other. If I cannot win, I want Védís to win," Glódís explains. 

"We often perform better when we compete against each other. Maybe one of us has a better horse for that specific discipline, but we are genuinely happy for each other," Védís says. Sometimes the girls switch horses during their daily training, and that can be quite an eye-opener. 

"You may get stuck on something and just cannot make it work. It can be a small thing that needs to be changed, and then it is an advantage to be able to help each other," Glódís explains, and says that although both sisters are doing well, it comes with a cost:  

"It is a bit lonely at the top when you compete at a high level. It is nice to have a family where we are so close. We are almost always together, and we have a lot of support from our family." 


Loneliness can make you even more attached to the horses, making it even harder when they have to be sold, Védís explains: 

"I feel very comfortable around the horses and do not like being with many people. I often develop a solid bond with my horses – maybe too close sometimes because it can be difficult for me to sell them.” 

What is Landsmót?

Landsmót is a major national competition for Icelandic riders. Among Icelanders, Landsmót is the biggest outdoor sporting event in Iceland, where the best horses and riders from Iceland are showcased. The first Landsmót was held in 1950 at Thingvellir National Park and has since grown into the large a national festival as today. Landsmót has been held at various locations around Iceland since its inception in 1950. At Landsmót in Hella, South Iceland, in 2008, the number of participants reached a record high of 14,000 people.

Everyday life is a journey 

But how can one stay dedicated to the hard work when your favourite horses have to be sold, and you feel lonely? 

"Of course, I dream of becoming a world champion, but I mostly just want to enjoy every day with my horses and try to achieve as much as possible with them. Winning is fun, but it lasts such a short time – so you have to enjoy every little moment with your horse and celebrate both small and big wins," Glódís explains, and Védís continues. 

"Sometimes it is hard to work with horses, but it is all worth it! I enjoy this journey with the horses, where you can see how you develop together. I love working with the horses, creating a bond with them, and truly understanding each other." 

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Védís Huld and Hrafnfaxi at the waterfall Skógafoss.

The girls are not just anyone 

The hard work and dedication can pay off when you look at what the girls have achieved with their horses – especially considering their young age. 

"I have ridden about 35 Icelandic championship and participated in the Nordic Championship 2018. With my horse, Krapi, I have been the Nordic champion five times and received the FEIF Feather Prize for the best riding. I think I have about 15 Icelandic championship titles," Védís explains. 

Glódís have also been to many competitions. 

"I think I have about 35 Icelandic championships titles. I also competed at Landsmót (one of the biggest Icelandic competitions) and won three times in the children's class. It was on my horse Kamban, whom I had from around 9 to 14 years old." 

But like with many other horses, Glódís had to sell Kamban too. 

"I think he was one of the horses I had the longest. It was really sad. He went to the Faroe Islands, and then I could use the money from the sale to buy a new horse. And my new horse will breed, so there are always new things to look forward to." 

With this development, there is no doubt that the two ambitious sisters will get far, even though it is not always easy and requires a strong mind. 


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