Nicole was in Iceland for 10 days in 2016.
There is a true gem among the hillside of Iceland, galloping past powerful waterfalls and grazing on surviving vegetation: the epic Icelandic horse. Known for its spirited personality, surefootedness and an amazing head of hair, these four-legged friends are a unique way to explore Iceland’s volcanic countryside and embrace the wide scope of the drastic land.
This small but mighty horse has evolved to adapt to Iceland’s harsh weather and isolation, making it a rarely found breed anywhere else in the world. In fact, Icelandic horses are so isolated that very few diseases exist for those still in their country, and those that do leave are not allowed to return in hopes of containing a healthy population in the country.
Many riding centers are available within minutes of Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, and often offer transportation to and from a city hotel. Join in a tour aboard these hair-whipping friends and get a chance to try one or two unique gaits (walk, trot, canter, etc.) that only these little horses can do! Follow your instructor’s lead of course, but get ready for a speedy step when your steed kicks in to the tölt, a four-beat lateral ambling gait, which sounds bumpy but is shockingly smooth. In fact, it has become a customary challenge to hold a glass of champagne (or beer, or whatever soothes your fancy) and see who spills the least while tölting. Their fifth “hidden” gait is the skeið, or “flying pace,” that can racing up to 30mph! But only for a short distance. While it is unlikely you’ll be skeið-ing across volcanic fields, their power and force are undeniable at any speed.
Mount up for a quick ride or opt in to a multi-day quest Game Of Thrones-style by selecting a duel activity tour to combine riding with watching wales or puffins, caving, snorkeling, a spa experience or touring the golden circle.
Take this chance to join the herd of Icelandic horsemen! It’s tölt-ally worth it.
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