You’ve seen photos of Icelandic Horses with their long manes and bangs. They’re smaller than the horses we’re used to seeing, but don’t you dare call them ponies. They’re more mild mannered than other breeds of horses, they’re sure footed, and they’re able to brave the wind and cold. The horses have five gaits (walk, trot, gallop, tölt, and flying pace) which didn’t mean much to me at first, but then I saw what it meant to tölt. If you’ve ever seen someone riding a galloping horse, you’ll recall how their body bounces up and down with the horse. When an Icelandic horse tölts, the rider’s body remains still, there is no bouncing.
We knew that we wanted the opportunity to ride one of these horses and experiencing the tölt was important to me. Neither of us had much riding experience before, but we were determined to try.
We came across The Icelandic Horse and read the company’s raving reviews. One thing that set them apart from the many other horse riding companies in Reykjavík was the promise of tölting. Because neither my mom nor I had much experience on horses, we decided to take their hour and a half Volcanic Landscape Tour which costs 11.800 ISK (about $90 USD) per person.
We met our group in a small barn. One of our guides, Inga, started by giving us some background on what makes Icelandic horses unique and then demonstrated how to hold the reins and sit in the saddle. By the time we were paired up with a horse, we knew what to expect and how to communicate with our horses. We were given helmets to wear, and they also had jackets, boots, gloves and scarves for us to borrow.
During the ride, we were accompanied by our two guides, Inga and Begga (she and her husband own The Icelandic Horse). They both took photos of our group during the ride and we each posed with our horses for single and group photos. It was nice to be able to enjoy the ride without worrying about dealing with my camera. During the ride, we stopped a few times to learn about the pseudo craters and the history of the landscape.
And finally, the moment I was waiting for, the tölt. Our horses ran (well tölted) together down a straight path and yet we didn’t feel jostled like on a galloping horse. We just sat back on our saddles and the horses did their thing. It was amazing!
I also found out that I’m allergic to horses!