Birgit Kossmann, owner and manager of Great Ocean Road Icelandics
I was born in Germany and made the big move to Australia in 2011. I intended on a short working holiday however I loved Australia that much I ended up staying and opening my own stud.
Brad and I moved to our little farm in 2015. Over the last few years I have returned to Germany to complete training and instructor licenses through IGV (International Gaited Horse Association). I am currently holding a qualification in Trainer B, held by only 14 people in Germany and only myself in Australia.
I grew up with the Icelandic Horse. As far as I can think back, I have always had weekly lessons and clinics on Icelandics and also in a normal riding school on Warmbloods and German Riding Ponies. I have also had vaulting lessons since early childhood and have completed every course possible that existes for kids in riding (In Germany they have little certificates that test your skills and knowledge with exams at the end of a course). My family used to breed a few Icelandic and Shetland foals every year. I have started lots of our horses myself.
Every school holidays I would work on a friend´s stud in South Germany. I enjoyed helping with everything involved in having a riding school/trail riding facilities and soaked up everything. I started giving lessons when I was only 16 and lead small trail rides. After I had finished school, the first thing i did was of course work on a farm in north Germany.
Competing with our own Icelandics was lots of fun. My greatest success was the participation the German Youth Championships with my now 25year old gelding Örn in T2 (loose rein tölt). Soon after i started competing with my self trained horse Ari.
My goal is to promote this unique and amazing breed in Australia and improve the quality of the horses and the way they are being trained. It Would be wonderful to see the number of good quality horses increase and hopefully to establish a competition scene like they have in Europe.
I am passionate about showing people how versatile and how much fun these horses are. Their spirit and willingness is incredible. Through the love for this breed you get to meet so many new people. I enjoy making connections in Europe and helping everyone in Australia. Seeing our flag walk in the opening ceremony at Icelandic World Championships in Oirschot gave me goosebumps. Seeing how excited the rest of the Icey World is about Australia slowing growing and how happy they are for us is very warming and welcoming. This is a path I want to follow – maintaining the wonderful support and connection with Europe.
Along with following the traditional principles of training horses, especially Gaited Horses, I always try to learn new ways how to approach the individual horse and certain issues. I fly over to Germany on a regular basis to stay up to date with the training methods and to improve my own skills.