Before Bjork and Sigur Ros became known as the cool imports from Iceland, (Or in my case, the only Icelanders I know in pop culture!) I’m pretty certain that these creatures have paved the way for Icelanders known for being cool:
The Icelandic Horse.
Robust, energetic, wild mane all over, and filled with feisty character. One may be inclined to quip “Napoleon character” to these lovely creatures, but I beg to disagree. People or creatures with Napoleon character are aware they are lacking in size, so they consciously make up for it by character. But these Icelandic Horses, they DO NOT KNOW that they are small. They really are just full of personality.
No other species or breed of horse exist in Iceland. And Icelandic government and quarantine is very strict about it too.
Lord of the Rings was thisclose to being shot in Iceland. But because of the Icelandic horses, the government could not allow the film production to have bigger horse breeds in the country,even temporarily. (I’m sure you’ve seen those giant horses in Lord of the Rings right?) And I say kudos to the Icelandic government for protecting their horses!
The Icelandic horses that roam freely all over the country are all free from vaccines. The breed is so pure that there hasn’t been any known diseases to have stricken them as yet. And we’d like to keep it this way!
I went horseback riding with Ishestar. They have a huge variety of tours, and we went on their Lava Tour. This is a 3-hour tour that takes you along lava fields, hills and rock formations. Perfect for beginners or intermediate riders.
Sitting on an Icelandic Horse for the very first time, I cannot help but have a feeling of um, remorse and sympathy for the horse. I know they are strong and sturdy. But because I haven’t ridden a horse this small, I was unsure if it could carry my weight, or will it buckle down in the middle of the tour? (For comparison, look at this blog post where I last rode horses in Idaho/Montana. The beasts were HUGE)
These little bad boys proved to be really strong! They carried on the entire 3-hour ride, without showing any signs of fatigue. If anything, they seemed to enjoy it, and liked it when we went for slow runs/trots.
The views and scenery along the ride was just marvelous. Moss and rock formations everywhere!
We stopped for a break in the middle of the ride, and just like all other horses in the world, the Icelandic horses took this time to graze and eat.
As for me, I just loved observing these little guys. Their manes are one of a kind. As if someone styled them with volumising mousse!
They are also very curious and playful. At the end of the ride, when we took the saddles off their backs, this immediately happened:
I just managed to catch one, but I saw at least three of them immediately roll on their backs, and sway side to side! It was a very bizarre sight. One of the guides said it is their way of getting sweat off their backs. Smart!
And as with all other horses, they enjoyed treats at the end of the ride for a job well done 🙂
I enjoyed my time at Ishestar Horse Ride. I especially loved that:
- The guides are knowledgeable, and are very good riders.
- The horses are very well taken-care of and happy.
- Facilities in the riding center are great: Changing rooms, clean bathrooms, coffee and dining area.
- Administration wise, it was also a breeze to communicate with them over email.
In my humble opinion, these are the things that can possibly make riders’ experience better:
- The guides, though very knowledgeable and able riders, seem abit abrupt and in a hurry. They help and assist when asked.
- There were overalls provided to keep you extra warm. While I deeply appreciated this, I also noticed that they were not clean and have been previously used.
Having said that, the main reason why I went and did this tour, the fabulous Icelandic horses, made the entire experience superb!
For those visiting Iceland for the first time, I would recommend this tour just for the experience of Icelandic horses alone. If you do not enjoy riding, I still encourage you to do so because of the spectacular views you take in during the ride.
A massive thank you is in order to Ishestar for giving us a discounted rate on their Lava Tour.