Hrimnir gives name to the famous white Icelandic gelding adored by the Icelandic horse community. It was this horse that gave Rúnar Þór Guðbrandsson the inspiration for the name of his exciting Icelandic saddlery business – Hrimnir.
By Becky Murray
Hrimnir is a family run business, which started in 2003 from Rúnar’s home in Mosfellsbær, Iceland. With over twenty years’ experience in the equestrian industry having previously worked with some top international equestrian companies, Rúnar saw an exciting opportunity in the Icelandic horse industry to launch a new range of saddles and equipment.
“At the time the saddlery industry for Icelandic horses was lacking a lot of technology and new ideas and I wanted to create a brand known for its technology and quality,” explains Rúnar.
The Hrimnir collection consists of saddles, bridles and now a popular clothing line instantly recognisable by their distinct Nordic logo. The Hrimnir saddle arrived after Rúnar became familiar with the work of the famous Argentinian brand Ruiz Diaz and an opportunity arose to bring Rúnar’s idea of a saddle made by Ruiz Diaz specifically designed for Icelandic horses but that could be used by other breeds too.
“Today our saddles are used by people who are doing both dressage and pleasure riding with various horse breeds.”
“We seek inspiration from our roots like the Viking age and Nordic traditions and we try to work with fashion designers that are close-friends and family!”
The product design team is headed up by Rúnar’s wife Hulda Sóllilja and they already have their three young sons preparing to follow in their footsteps. The family spend a lot of time together training their horses which gives first-hand experience to test the products.
“Even our 9 year old is taking part in the product development! We are seeking ideas from our sons all the time.”
The stunning bridle collection, “Heritage” is becoming popular amongst a variety of horse breeds.
“This was an idea I came up with years ago, it took a long time to make it perfect and before we took it to market we wanted a patent on the design because it was something completely new to the market. The bridles have a little bit of a Viking/Lord of the Rings feeling. All kinds of breeds have been wearing them, we even did a photo contest on Instagram and asked people to share photos of their horses wearing them and received photos of Fresians and Standardbreds.
When designing new products one of the biggest challenges is designing a product that can withstand the challenging Icelandic conditions, known for its ever changing weather conditions.
“The Icelandic market has always been very accepting of new ideas. It’s a great market to test new designs. If a product is suitable for the Icelandic environment which is quite harsh then the product is good! The most important thing is that the product is supple and soft and stays that way and even when there is a lot of dirt or moisture the products maintain their quality well.
To reach such a high quality Hrimnir’s products go through a lengthy testing period. Hrimnir uses around fifty professional riders who they call “Team Hrimnir” who come up with new ideas and provide feedback on new products. From the initial idea stage to product launch it can take from two to four years.
The Icelandic horse market continues to evolve with the focus on the horse always at the forefront. Hrimnir strive to use top of the range technology in their product testing using biomechanical methods.
“We have seen some changes in the last decade in the Icelandic horse market itself. It is constantly improving and developing because people are being more and more aware of the needs of the horse. Every product needs to be very horse friendly!”
We read articles and whatever comes out new in the equine research and science fields we follow that and pick up ideas. One product that we came out with is a saddle pad used for Icelandic horses but now also dressage horses and pleasure riding. This saddle pad is a memory foam saddle pad and relieves the pressure on the front and hind part of the back so the pressure from the saddle comes only on the main weight bearing area of the back.”
Along with their saddles and Heritage bridle collection the brand have released an exciting clothing range including casual and competition wear appearing in close to one hundred shops around Europe, as well as sales rapidly growing through their webshop hrimnir.shop.
“We had a lot of demand from our network of shops that they liked our riding equipment and they were always asking when we were going to come out with a clothing line! We are sourcing most of the materials ourselves and so we make sure all of the products are high quality performance fabrics for active wear and eco-friendly. We seek inspiration from our roots like the Viking age and Nordic traditions and we try to work with fashion designers that are close-friends and family!”
Going forward into the future Hrimnir plan to continue expanding their exciting new product ranges.
“We have grown very slowly but gradually and we have always wanted to make sure we don’t grow too fast. We have been very careful which products we take out but at the moment we probably have about 40 new products in the design process and at the testing stage. The idea is to continue expanding the collection for Icelandic horses but also going into the future, any equestrian sport. The products are for anyone that is looking for stylish, good quality riding wear.
We would like people when they think of Hrimnir to think of it as a brand that promises quality but nice design, whether it’s riding equipment or clothing.”