At Home in Middleburg
Freygang was still living in DC but boarding her horses in neighboring states when she had the opportunity to purchase property in Middleburg in 2015. “I bought it with plans to fill a void, because there were no facilities, trainers, farriers, or veterinarians specializing in Icelandic horses anywhere around here; says Freygang. “I was finally able to have all of my horses at home under my care and began developing and educating a support group to specialize on in 2019, Freygang launched the results of her efforts; Montaire Icelandic Horses, which offers national and inter-national trainers for both horse and rider, breeding services and evaluation, riding lessons for children and adult, horse sales and boarding, and hosts shows and competitions that attract enthusiasts from all over the country. Facilities include a regulation-sized covered riding arena, 20-meter round pen, 250-meter FEIF-sanctioned oval track, and 300-meter FEIF-sanctioned pace track, plus multiple stables, dry lot paddocks, pastures, wooded trails, and ride outs. In July, Montaire hosted the North American Youth Cup 2023, where participants competed for national rankings. Montaire is the only Icelandic horse venue in Virginia and the only one in the mid-Atlantic that meets world regulation training and showing standards. “There are only two other facilities in the United States, one in Kentucky and one in Iowa, that are comparable to us, says Freygang.
Riding and caring for Icelandic horses are very popular in other parts of the world, particularly in Iceland (obviously), Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, but in the U.S., the breed is just starting to gain traction. One of Freygang’s biggest challenges is finding qualified trainers and breed specialists.
“We are so fortunate and proud to have Nicole Kempf, one of the 10 most highly decorated Icelandic horse train-ers and judges in the world, as our trainer at Montaire, says Freygang. Kempf, an award-winning, international•level rider from Germany, has been training for 35 years, the last five at Montaire.
Kempf, who is aware the breed does not have a strong base in the U.S. like it do. in Europe, says she came to Middleburg to train some of Freygang’s horses and fell in love with Virginia’s rolling farms and beautiful climate. “For me, the Icelandic horse is very special. Friendly and powerful, it is perfect for everyone — children, older people, those with injuries or disabilities,” says Kempf, would like to see more people involved, especially younger riders, which means building an education system starting with the basics,
It would be a U.S. educational system that would eventually produce top trainer, judges, and riders. With Kempf, help, Freygang says her focus going forward will be to build that system. “We are forming the building blocks fora school, one where riders learn different skills and then practice, get tested, and receive certificates as they progress. I wish I had that opportunity when I was young. My dream is to create a space for the Icelandic horse in America, to be enjoyed for many generations to come.