During my first trip to Iceland, I somehow incorrectly learned that Icelandic horses were Icelandic ponies. Then, I recently bought my sister a luggage tag of an Icelandic horse that said right on it, "I am not a pony."
I recently took a riding trip with Íslenski Hesturinn, which translates to "The Icelandic Horse."
Icelandic horses are the purest breed in the world. If a horse leaves Iceland, it can never come back. The horses are not vaccinated and are unable to protect themselves from common bacteria from other countries. When riding at an Icelandic horse stable, they are very cautious to ensure that riding gear used in other countries does not come in contact with their Icelandic horses.
My first experience riding in Iceland was lovely, but this trip was even better. Rather than placing us on a horse and whisking us off on a predictable route, the owner and tour guide, Begga, gave us an overview on Icelandic horses, their five gaits, and riding instructions. Even the most experienced riders might be surprised by something about Icelandic horses. For example, riding tradition in all other countries dictates that you must mount a horse from the left. This dates back from the days of knights and sword placement. However, today in Iceland they have discovered something, "That horses have two sides!" So you can ignore all the advice of your riding instructors and mount from the right side.
Prior to our riding adventure, Begga carefully assigned us each a horse, based upon a number of factors including previous riding experience. My horse was called Máni, which is the Icelandic word for moon. Since I have a nine-year-old cat named Luna, the Spanish word for moon, I thought this was a great match!
As we were leaving for the ride, Begga said, "Mind your knee on the fence as you leave." I instantly knew running into the fence would be inevitable. Sure enough, my otherwise adorable and perfect horse slammed my knee and ankle right into the fence. Of course! Otherwise, the rest of the journey was wonderful. We rode over some gorgeous snow-covered lava fields. At certain parts there was a red hue in the soil from iron deposits. This looks strangely similar to the iron-laden rocks of Colorado. Even the photo-op was in front of a red rock that looked reminiscent of the red rock used for a photo-op on a trail ride through Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
Do you see the striking soil similarities?
Have you ever ridden an Icelandic horse?
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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