Let’s go with “determined, ” rather than “stubborn,” when describing the people of Iceland. After all, it was a very determined farmer who, when told by the government that it would not be possible to develop a road along sheer ocean cliffs on the literal edge of the country, set out to make that road himself. Just to show that it could be done. With a tractor and the will to be proven right, he singlehandedly turned a sheep path into a single lane road that would be just wide enough for a car or small minivan to pass by. It twists, turns, and traces its way along for many rocky miles, with vertical rock cliffs reaching to the sky on one side, and the sea touching the edge of the land, hundreds of feet straight down on the other side. And Icelandics have never heard of guardrails.
This was where I rode today with Riding Iceland. Aboard my small but sturdy Icelandic horse, the road felt wide, the views breathtaking, and the risk of re-enacting The Man From Snowy River, Iceland Edition, relatively low. So long as you kept on riding straight and didn’t veer too far left or right, that is:
The soreness deep in my legs tells me that we are on Day 3 of a 12-day horseback riding trek with Riding Iceland. Every day thus far has equaled a month of riding in its saddle time, terrain challenges, and the occasional controlled chaos that is part and parcel of riding with a herd of 30 loose horses. In riding these horses and seeing this place, it feels like up until this point, I’d only known the smallest slice of the equestrian world. There is simply so much more that lies beyond the hunter/jumper niche that I spend my life focusing on. News flash: there are horses out there that can tolt full speed down a hill dotted with boulders – and not trip. There are horses out there that can skirt a cliff with a 400-foot drop, and not spook. And there is a world out there that stretches from one corner of the horizon to another, that is spectacular, and is best seen on horseback.
More tolting updates from Riding Iceland to come…
From August 11th – 24th, Horse & Style Editor Erin Gilmore and Horse & Style Web Developer Christina Gray Parker are trekking through the breathtaking country of Iceland with Riding Iceland. Follow their continuing updates, and don’t miss an overview of their trip in the upcoming Oct/Nov 2014 issue of Horse & Style Magazine.
It’s surprising how many horses, ridden or not, have no problem trekking right along the edge of a literal cliff!