The only breed of horse in Iceland, and a beautiful one at that…
These sturdy creatures live a disease-free life thanks to strict laws governing the import and export of animals. Also known as the Icelandic pony, they stand at an average of 13 to 14 hands high.
The unique traits of the breed are two defined gaits, in addition to tbe usual walk, trot, canter, and gallop of other horses. One of these is the ambling gait known as the tölt, which offers a comfortable ride and can be used at varying speeds. The other is the flugskeiđ, which is fast and smooth, enabling some horses to reach up to 30 mph.
With these facts in mind, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet these fascinating creatures. I booked a 2 hour trek across the lava fields with Ishestar Riding Stables.
Aside from a mix up where my name was put on the wrong pick up list, which was sorted by a quick phone call, the tour bus was prompt and efficient. We arrived at the stables, checked in, and watched the short safety video.
Warm overalls and wellington boots were offered to those who hadn’t come prepared (Come on people, it’s a horse riding tour), and complimentary tea and coffee were provided after the ride.
And off we went.
The scenery was incredible, and it was worth the risk of dropping the camera to sneak a few photographs as we rode along. Some people had trouble controlling their mounts, while I found mine to be perfectly obedient, up until he became tired of following and decided to take the lead.
The tour guides gave us the chance to split into two groups. The beginners would continue the tour at a walking pace, while more experienced or adventurous riders would be able to experience a range of gaits, including the infamous tölt. I regret picking the slower group, as I was slightly nervous about my riding skills, but it was still a great trip all the same.
For anyone heading to Iceland, regardless of your horse riding ability, I highly recommend you add this tour to your itinerary.
I spent the afternoon and the next day exploring the town of Reykjavik, but I’ll save that for my next blog post to give you as much detail and information as possible.