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Activity – The Icelandic Horse (Whale Watching)


(Whale watching is in brackets because unfortunately between abysmal weather on Sunday, our other activities and my early afternoon flight on Monday we didn't get to go whale watching at all, so it's very much top of my list to check out the next time I'm in Iceland.)


The Icelandic Horse is the name of the Reykjavik based company I went out riding with, and they really are a superb and very nice team.  Icelandic Horses are also called Arctic Horses, but please don't confuse this with the company called Arctic Horses that also operates riding trips (near Grindavik).


The day didn't start well as the weather first thing was horrendous, driving rain, which continued to thunder down on the wooden roof of the stables as we had our introductory talk.  Even if you are an experienced rider you'll need this lesson as riding Arctic or Icelandic Horses is very different from riding most other horses.  It seems that the most important thing is to make sure you never call them ponies – apparently they don't like it.  Although small these are officially horses.  They're also special in that they've been isolated on Iceland from other horses for thousands of years so have no resistance to germs from "mainland" horses and so you have to be very careful bringing in any riding gear.  When it comes to actually riding them the horses move very differently to others, and the rider adopts a very different posture.  Instead of rising and falling, or leaning forward, when you want these horses to go faster you lean back and relax in the saddle – yes these are officially the easiest, laziest ride.


If you've ever felt a bit wobbly on a horse you'll also like the stability of these, like riding a small table.  I loved the whole ride, especially as the rain stopped moments before we headed out.


What made it even more special as we rode was the scenery literally melting in front of us, producing spectacular colours, ice floes and icicles.


What set this ride apart from many that I've been on is the passion of the team; they absolutely love the horses and are genuinely excited every day to explain what is so special about the Icelandic Horse without being patronising, to make sure that everyone has an enjoyable and safe ride, to give everyone a chance to experience the unique gait of the horse; "the tolt", and even take complimentary souvenir pictures for you; in short they are experts who have created the perfect tourist riding experience (even for absolute beginners) for The Icelandic Horse.


The only downside, is that even if it's not raining or snowing it’s pretty cold on top of that horse – so if you can, get hold of a neck gaiter and some glasses or sunglasses to protect your face, even if it does make you look the The Invisible Man (or Woman).






Pearl and Sneggla, courtesy of The Icelandic Horse

8,800 ISK (about €54 or £47) including 2.5 hour session (1 - 1.5 hours in the saddle) and pick up from hotels in Reykjavik


Information correct as at March 2012


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