Horseback riding vacation on Snaefellsness Peninsula in Iceland
Though I’d had the chance to ride an Icelandic horse on my first horseback riding vacation to Iceland in 2009, I knew I wanted to do it again when I returned in September of 2010. Feeling my horse break into a tölt (a special gait that only Icelandic horses have, it’s very fast and very smooth) was one of my favorite experiences on my horseback riding vacation. One I hoped to recreate. Once my husband and I mapped out our horseback riding vacation itinerary and set our sights on visiting the Snaefellsness Peninsula in west Iceland, I began looking for places to go horseback riding again.
Horseback Riding Vacation to Iceland’s Lýsuhóll
I found Lýsuhóll online and sent an email to request a date and time for our horseback riding vacation. One of the workers quickly confirmed the appointment, and a few weeks later, my husband and I set out for Iceland. Our ride was scheduled for noon, to coincide with low tide so that we could ride on the beach. That morning, we drove around the beautiful Snaefellsness Peninsula, often called “Iceland in miniature” because it contains many of the landscapes found elsewhere around Iceland, including the glacier that towers over the 90-kilometer long peninsula. When we arrived at the farm, we were delighted to find out that we would be the only two riders, along with our guide, on this trip. We helped her get the horses from the paddock, saddled up for our horseback riding vacation and were on our way.
Splashing through the surf on a horsback riding vacation on Snaefellsness Peninsula
As soon as we set out, the wind picked up and it began to rain, but we were determined not to let it spoil our fun. We set out down the road, then crossed into a field and let the horses go into a trot. The horses were very responsive, obeying the subtlest of cues and responding to gentle clucks for encouragement. We soon made our way toward the beach, giving the horses lots of rein as they gingerly stepped over some of the large rocks that covered the sand. After a few minutes we made it onto the firmly packed sand closer to the water and our guide gave us the cue to gallop. We took off, splashing through the surf as we rode for about 15 minutes down the beach.
Experiencing the tölt on a horseback riding vacation with Lýsuhóll
As we walked, trotted and (oh so briefly) tölted back to the barn, we chatted with our guide, who was not Icelandic, but German. Wishing to experience a ride on the unique Icelandic horses, she applied to be a summer farm worker at Lýsuhóll in exchange for room and board. The farm owner eagerly accepted her offer, and for the last six months she’d been leading horseback riding vacation tours, riding for 5-6 hours per day.
Guest Cabins for a horseback riding holiday at Lýsuhóll, Iceland
On our way back to the barn, I noticed a small group of buildings clustered on a hillside not far from the main house. They turned out to be the guest cabins. For 16,500 ISK per night (about $150 US) guests can stay in the cottages, or in one of the rooms of the four-room houses, which feature kitchens, Jacuzzi tubs, and spectacular views of the Snaefellsnes glacier.
Prices for rides at Lýsuhóll start at 4500 ISK for 90 minutes, and 3600 for every additional hour. Full-day horseback rides, with a light lunch, are 19,500 ISK per person. They also offer eight-day trekking tours that include lodging at the farm, starting at 1,500 euros per person.
Where are your favorite places to go on a horseback riding vacation?
If You Go:
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Katie Hammel writes BootsnAll’s WhyGo Iceland site – a one-stop guide for planning a visit to Iceland, including information on cheap flights to Iceland, the country’s best natural wonders and all the outdoor activities this beautiful country has to offer. Photos courtesy of Katie Hammel.