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Posted on August 5, 2019
It’s Imogen here! I’m always up for a new adventure and when I was given the opportunity to visit Iceland and ride the wonderful Icelandic Horse, I just had to say yes. Having ridden this wonderful breed once before in Sweden, I couldn’t wait to get in the saddle and try, once again, to master the tölt.
Iceland has always been one of my bucket list countries, a land of Nordic legend and mystery, and being able to see it from horseback added an extra level of adventure and excitement. I’m a firm believer that there really is no better way to see a country than through the ears of a horse.
Here are the five reasons I fell in love with Iceland.
The capital city has a small town vibe and nothing is too far from anywhere. With streets bursting with restaurants, cafés, local shops, souvenir shops, crafts and street art, it was hard to know what to look at first.
With lots of wonderful architecture, including the Harpa Concert Hall and Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral; beautiful sculptures such as the Sun Voyager I couldn’t possibly get bored in this wonderful city.
Although Iceland has the reputation of being very expensive, I found I was able to spend a couple of days in Reykjavik on a budget that didn’t burst the bank. There is a wide range of accommodation and something to suit everyone from luxury hotels and good quality tourist hotels to hostels offering shared dormitory rooms with shared ablutions; and restaurants on every corner for those looking for a cheap eat as well as travellers looking to splash some cash.
The Icelandic Horse is an incredible breed. They are small, incredibly strong, fit, surefooted and such fun to ride. They also have the most fabulous hair! These horses are a gaited breed with the extra paces of tölt and flying pace. Riding these extra gaits is like nothing else.
Being able to spend a week tölting across the open wilderness on an Icelandic Horse was a wonderful experience, which has left me with memories that will last a lifetime. The willing attitude of these horses and their incredible strength gave me hours of fun and joy.
Not only are they unbelievable fun to ride, they are also incredibly photogenic and will capture your heart. “Small but mighty” is a phrase that we used for our horses during my visit, and mighty they are. With big cheeky personalities and such a variety of shapes, sizes and colours, these horses epitomise Iceland and the Icelandic people.
Iceland is beautiful, there’s no denying that. Whether you are in the city or in, quite literally, the middle of nowhere you are never disappointed with the view in front of you. From mountains, glaciers and lava fields to forests, open pastures, rolling hills and valleys; it’s hard to take a bad photo.
Iceland is a vast and wild country, which gives you the opportunity to leave civilisation behind. With an estimated population of 340,706 people in the whole of Iceland, and nearly 217,000 people living within Reykjavik and six surrounding municipalities, outside the capital people are few and far between.
We feature many different riding itineraries all over Iceland so there is sure to be one which is right for you; whether you are a novice rider or someone more experienced looking for a real adventure.
There are centre based rides guided by knowledgeable guides who know the area well and will always be able to share a story or two. They know their horses and are excited to tell you all about the areas that you ride through.
There are trail rides (moving on each night) where you ride with local guides and farmers who have lived in the areas for many years and own the horses you will be riding. Some of the farmers speak good English and will also be your guide along the wonderful trails; other farmers speak limited English and on these rides you will have a riding guide to lead you on your journey.
Riding with any of these guides is a wonderful way to get a new perspective on this country that is steeped in history and legend. There is no better way to learn about a destination than from local people.
Tölting through the Icelandic countryside is definitely something that should be on every rider’s bucket list. Smooth, speedy and incredibly comfortable, tölting is the way to travel long distances in what feels like no time at all.
On the majority of the trail rides you ride with a herd of loose horses; sometimes you will ride behind or in front of the herd and on others you are given the opportunity to join in with the guides to keep the herd moving. All these spare horses get ridden at some point during the day and you might change horses two or three times each day. Although we aren’t supposed to, we all ended up with favourites; the guides know this and will try to give you the opportunity to ride your favourite, especially on the last day.
On some centre based rides you ride and lead a spare horse to swap onto later in the day.
Riding with a hand horse.
There really is an option for everyone in Iceland! Experienced riders looking for a real back to basics adventure may like to consider a Highland Expedition, one of the longer Sheep Round Ups or the Wilderness Expedition. If you prefer more comfortable accommodation on the trail then take a look at the Highland Trails. If you just can’t decide, the Highland Adventures offer a healthy mix of comfort with a night or two in a mountian cabin in the highlands.
There are also options for less experienced riders on some of the Highland Trails such as the Golden Circle ride in the famous hot springs area of Geysir and the Golden Waterfall of Gullfoss.
If you are travelling in a mixed group or are a novice rider, Home at Hestasport would be perfect for you. They have horses for all abilities, from total beginners to experienced riders. This is also a great choice if you have non-riders in your group.
There are also options for riders who are short of time or would like to add some riding as part of a longer stay in Iceland. If this sounds like you then the Northern Lights rides or Mountain Challenge ride would suit you.
Last but not least, riders wanting a taste of real Icelandic tradition are sure to enjoy the Horse and Sheep Round Ups. On these rides you enjoy the unforgettable sight of the Icelandic farmers bringing the sheep or horses down from the mountains. Some of the Sheep Round Ups can be more challenging in terms of the riding and guest participation and would suit experienced riders not afraid of getting their hands dirty!
For more information on our rides in Iceland or to book your place please call me (Imogen) on +44 1299 272 242 or email email@example.com. I would be pleased to help you choose the right itinerary.