"We drive them to the moutnains and we leave them for the summer. You are taking the horses and you are allowing them to be totally free."
Lindsay Blatt and Paul Taggart did not know much about Iceland beyond the headlines in the news — its recent bankruptcy, the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano that ruined many travel plans (and confused many more with itspronunciation), and its most famous native, Bjork.
But their interests were piqued after they learned about a distinct variety of horse native to the country.
The Icelandic horse has been purebred for more than a millennium, having been on the island for almost as long as the natives who brought them there. The animals are small and sturdy, resembling a pony more than the horses one would expect a cavalry to straddle. During the summer, they roam freely, completely untended by humans, until they are rounded up in a big celebration at the end of the season.
Although the horses are integral to Icelandic culture, Ms. Blatt discovered that the roundup had received little attention outside of the island.
Their documentary project “Herd in Iceland,” has roots in Ms. Blatt’s childhood in Arizona — a place that also has lots of wide open space (the similarities between Iceland and Arizona begin and end there).
“My whole youth, I was so devoted to the kind of horses that I rode, not knowing anything about Icelandic horses,” Ms. Blatt said. “If I ever got a horse again, it would have to be an Icelandic horse.”
The trailer for Ms. Blatt’s and Mr. Taggart’s documentary film “Herd in Iceland.”
Ms. Blatt and Mr. Taggart start a Kickstarter project on Tuesday to fund the completion of the film which not only features the Icelandic horse, but also the people who care for the horses, many of whom buck the convention of cowboy.
“You’ll see a pretty big guy, a big Viking man riding this tiny little horse,” said Ms. Blatt, who is also a freelance photo editor at The New York Times. She added that they are often employed in occupations that are jeopardized by a precarious global economy.
“There’s this pull to something authentic, something natural, something you can put your hands on,” Mr. Taggart said. “This was lost a generation or two ago. And they want to get it back. They’re trying to figure out a way: ‘Hey, can we actually make a living off these horses, so I don’t have to go work at the bank or be an international sales rep?’ They’re trying to get back and say, it’s about family, it’s about living off the land and it’s about the animals.”