If you want to get to know a horse, spend eight hours per day in the saddle either riding him or observing him as he runs loose beside you. It was in that unique way to that I learned the personalities and herd dynamics of the Icelandic horses that I spent the last week with. There were Gloi, Sabine, and Ava, who always needed to travel together. There were the two grey geldings who liked to stir up the herd in the morning, and the dark mare who liked to run ahead of the group. In riding through the West Fjords in Iceland for five days, we got to know each horse, each personality, and grew very fond of our favorites.
“Our” herd in the West Fjords
So it was with some reluctance that we left “our” herd, along with our wonderful guide and new friend Hreinn Þorkelsson in the West Fjords, and headed off to the second half of this amazing Icelandic adventure.
Riding Iceland planned a true trek for myself and H&S Web Developer/Photographer extraordinaire Christina Gray. After spending five days in the West Fjords, on the northwest tip of Iceland (see previous posts here and here), Riding Iceland decided we hadn’t seen enough of this enthralling country, and sent us to Hùsavik, a small town just 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle at the “top” of Iceland. The flight that took us there was exciting enough – a tiny 15-seater plane carried us over glaciers and flew in low to land at what is officially the tiniest airport I have ever encountered in my life. Our new hosts were there to meet us, and today began six more days in the saddle!
It was on day five that I finally began feeling the effects of so many continuous hours in that saddle. Even when you’re riding a small and extremely comfortable gaited horse, there are bound to be some side effects from spending up to seven hours per day riding at a fast tolting pace. So a day’s rest while traveling on Sunday was very welcome, and refreshed me for what’s next. Now, at the midway point of Horse & Style Magazine‘s trek through Iceland, it’s hard to believe that we still have five more days to go. There is enough unbelievable scenery in the country to last a year’s worth of riding, enough excitement to write a book, and at the end of every day it’s hard not to feel simply overwhelmed by it all.
A trek is defined as a journey, a slow, traveling migration. Tuesday begins a point to point trek with a large group of 20 riders and 60 horses (40 loose horses traveling with us.) We’ll camp overnight in a remote mountain hut, and then a guesthouse that is near a lake, and, we hear, an abundance of hot springs. Today, Monday, we warmed up with a three-hour ride through easy, open plains and across a few rivers.
Knee deep and ice cold! New scenery in the Northeast.
There are new herd dynamics, and new interpersonal dynamics as everyone gets to know each other. There are Canadians, French, German, and Swiss riders along for the week, and although time will tell, at the outset it seems like we are a group of capable riders. We will surely get to know everyone’s ins and outs – that mountain hut, it’s a single room high on a plateau of lava fields. Watch out for the fissures in the ground, our new guide Bjarni told us this evening at dinner. You’re safe, so long as your horse stays on the path.
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.
Open plains = little protection from the wind. It was a cool 42 degrees and blustery during today’s ride.
Of course, all smiles while crossing a river.