Iceland horseback riding is a unique and amazing experience. The excellent team of guides and also managers of the company picked up TAG members at our home for the week the Loft Hostel and after a 10-15 min ride we arrived at the ranch.
After a very warm welcome we spent a few moments getting warm in the home and lounge above the stables.
Of all the horseback riding events the Tampa Adventure Group has toured, this was the most thorough and friendly when it comes to making sure everyone is comfortable and understands how to ride English style. The staff and guides of Viking Horses spent time with each of the 12 TAG members to ensure they feel completely comfortable on their horse, which matched their riding experience.With that being said our adventure on horseback started in the small corral where we spent about 20 mins or so getting used to the reigns and English style of riding on Icelandic Horses.Once everyone fell in love with these beautiful Icelandic Horses our training was complete, leaving the corral behind, we were ready to hit the open trail.
The weather turned a bit colder as grey clouds rolled in with rain and mist, that didn’t dampen our excitement to ride the famous Icelandic Horse. The first part of our ride took us up through hill country where we were able to oversee all of Reykjavik and the Atlantic Ocean beyond the city.
Photo from the top of the hill…
After the quick stop at the overlook, we took a trail down the hill through a thick pine forest into an open field where we were able to experience the Tölt or Iceland’s version of a horse “gallop”. Tölt is a four-beat gait where the sequence of foot falls is the same as in walk. This means that at least one foot is on the ground at any time. So there is no period of suspension within the tölt, like a western horse where all feet are off the ground for a split second. This lack of suspension in the gait means it has a smoothness which is comfortable for the rider as there is no time when the horse bounces the rider out of the saddle. This was prized by the Icelanders living in a land where the road network was at best haphazard and where the carriage was not such a useful mode of transport due to the small trails and lack of infrastructure. Sorry American cowboy’s and cowgirls you take the second place prize when it comes to enjoying horseback riding at full speed ahead. The best part is that a tölt can be fast or slow depending on what the rider wishes.
Another hour of riding and we head back toward the ranch and stables, but take a right turn to go through a short tunnel where we emerge into a hilly area full of red rocks and sink holes. The red rocks come from the iron ore in the ground.
After riding up and over the red hills, we took a moment to cross a clear and cold Icelandic river deep enough to make some of the horses say no and walk the other way. I don’t blame them, a bit of the water got into my boot, it was ice cold but refreshing.
Out of the entire day was returning to the stables after a three hour ride and having to slide off the saddle and stand on your own two legs again. The cold and long ride made some of our legs almost numb, but it was worth it in the end.
TRADITIONAL ICELANDIC DINER
Just when the adventure stopped, the cultural experience began. We sat down to a homemade, traditional Icelandic lunch: hákarl (fermented/rotten shark) chased with a shot of Icelandic Vodka, kjötsúpa (lamb soup) and skyr (an amazing, yogurt-like dairy product). Everything was delicious!
If you visit Iceland definitely take a moment to visit the Viking Horse stables for an amazing ride through the rolling hills just outside of Reykjavik.0