How to Pick a Horse

Lukka and her husband, Láki, live on the farm Langhús with his parents.  They have dairy cows, sheep, dogs, and, of course, horses. Lukka runs a service helping people find horses. She does this primarily through her website which is well worth a visit for its information about many things in addition to sales horses.


Let´s go with Lukka as she visits a farm to evaluate a new horse. I have made this video on the long side, about 20 minutes, so that you can see in pretty much real time what it is she does with the horse. I have my reasons for showing all this, explained in the note below, as well as for the sake of credibility, or “reality”, if you will. This is what happened and nothing was cut out. This is what she does and how she does it.

Lukka, the nickname for Arnþrúður Heimisdóttir, (you can see why she needs one!) is one of my oldest Icelandic friends.  I met her on the first day of my first trip to Iceland in 1999.  In fact, she is responsible for getting me on the first horse I had ridden since I was 10 years old, some 50 years before!  And that ride is what not only got me on a horse, but it inspired me to take riding lessons, go trekking in Iceland, and create this video blog.  But that is a whole other story.

I have to preface this video with the disclosure that when I started out on this farm visit, I thought Lukka would be the only person I would know.  After all, we were in the northernmost tip of Northern Iceland… it was so far up that if you believed that the Earth were flat you would worry about falling off.  For that simple reason I am convinced that the Vikings knew that the Earth was round.

I digress.  Here we were north of the middle of nowhere, and I would find I knew everyone at the farm and I even had a close connection to the horse Lukka was going to check out.  And this is what happens in Iceland, particularly Skagafjordur. It is what you can get when you buy a horse in Iceland: a connection to the place and its people.

Update, 2011

Lukka is still actively providing this service as can be seen here on her website.

We bought a mare, Komma frá Langhúsum, from Lukka in 1999 and brought her back to our farm where not only has she been a wonderful riding horse, but since this piece was filmed bore two colts for us which are on their way to becoming our future riding horses.  You can meet them and Komma on Thokki Blog.  Lukka has every right to be proud!

NOTE: Lukka has evolved her own method of evaluating horses, but there are criteria that could be adapted as the basis for the pre-purchase examination of a prospective horse.    Several years ago, the Trainers’ Association (FT) published the test for admission to the organization at the entry-level as the out-of-school (utanskóla) test administered to candidates who were not Hólar students.  That process has been discontinued in favor of one administered by Hólar itself and the file, of course, has been removed. Fofrtunately, I had saved it at the time and am making it available as a PDF download with the understanding that it has been modified and is not current.  But Ioffer it as a conceptual framework for assessing the horse rather than the trainer or presenter.

It would be worth a discussion whether an independent judge or assessment center located in Iceland could rate horses, before they are exported.  I am generally not in favor of buying horses “cold”, but I think it is something that the Icelandic horse breeders should look at.  Economics, not to mention ethics, are in its favor.

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