Horseback Riding Vacation in Reykjavik, Iceland
Even for those tourists who aren’t horse crazy, the horses in Iceland hold a special appeal. Not only are they incredibly friendly and docile – just pull over on the side of a field when driving in Iceland and you’ll soon be surrounded by curious horses – they’re also endowed with a special fifth gait called the tölt. The tölt is similar to a trot, only faster and much smoother. Thousands of people come for a horseback riding vacation in Iceland just to experience it.
Dozens of Horseback Riding Farms Open to Tourists in Iceland
Scattered around the country are dozens of riding farms for horseback riding vacations open to tourists. Several equestrian centers are conveniently located just a few minutes outside of Reykjavik. When I visited Iceland in 2009, I chose a horseback riding vacation with Laxnes, a farm that has been in operation for over 40 years, making it the oldest farm open to tourists in the whole country. Laxnes offers several horseback riding vacation options – full or half day rides at the farm, or rides that can be combined with visits to some of Iceland’s most spectacular wonders, like the the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle. Rides vary from two to five hours, with rates ranging from 7000 to 14000 ISK, or about $62 to $125 per person.
Equestrian Gear Included in Reykjavik Horseback Riding Vacation
The rates for your horseback riding vacation include transportation to and from the farm from any hotel or guesthouse in Reykjavik. Equitrekking gear including riding boots, equestrian helmets and, in winter, full-body warm suits to protect against the elements. Horseback trail rides are offered year round by appointment.
Horses Assigned Based on Level of Horseback Riding Experience
When I visited in March, I was worried that the wintry conditions would limit my horseback riding vacation to a walking trail ride. Though there was some snow on the ground and it was a bit muddy and damp, the trail was well-maintained. Despite the country’s name, Iceland doesn’t get as cold as you’d expect. During my horseback riding vacation, temperatures ranged from 35-45 degrees. We were all quite grateful for the added warmth of the snowsuits during our horseback riding holiday. They were thick enough to keep us toasty, but thin enough not to interfere with our movement on horseback. After we arrived and donned our riding suits, we were assigned horses based on our level of horseback riding experience. There were 16 riders in our group, ranging in experience level from total greenhorn to those who rode horseback almost daily at home. We were also joined by two guides from the farm for our horseback riding vacation, one in front, and one in back.
Horseback Riding Vacation With Winter Coats
We mounted our horses, who were covered in thick coats of winter fur, and set off for our horseback riding vacation. We rode horseback down the road for a short bit before crossing a stream and heading up in to the hills surrounding the farm. As the trail ride progressed, we separated into two groups – the beginners in one and the more advanced equestrians in the next.
Time to Tölt on this Horseback Riding Vacation
Now it was time to tölt. I quickly learned that despite the Icelandic horse’s desire to please, coaxing one into a tölt was easier said than done. After several minutes of trotting at a very fast pace, I began to think my chance to experience the tölt was about to pass. Then, I felt my horse’s back round up underneath me, and just like a car switching gears, we had suddenly shifted into the tölt. It was incredible – if it wasn’t for the ground flying by beneath my horse’s hooves, I never would have realized how fast we were going. Though we were speeding along, the gait was completely smooth. I may as well have been riding in an easy chair for how little movement I felt underneath me.
All too soon we arrived back at the farm. Our horseback riding vacation was over. As everyone chatted excitedly, I took a few moments to take pictures of some of the friendly faces waiting in the paddock. Then I said one last goodbye to my horse, thanked him for letting me experience the magical tölt, and then prepared to return to Reykjavik.
If You Go:
Laxnes Horse Farm +354 566 6179
Located off Rd 36, about 15 minutes from downtown Reykjavik, Iceland
Horseback Riding Vacation in Iceland
Katie Hammel writes BootsnAll’s WhyGo Iceland site – a one-stop guide for planning a visit to Iceland, including tips on finding cheap flights to Iceland, accommodation in Iceland and things to do in Iceland.