Donna and Charlie's
Horseback Riding Treks in Iceland
Click on a map area to learn more about each tour.
It all started quite a few years ago when I went to Iceland with some college friends. (That's another story). Because of the people, the scenery, the horses and the art, I always wanted to go back. Finally in the 90s I did. I went back three times - '93, '95 and '98. And, who knows, maybe we'll go back again!
Generic stuff about all three rides
We ride for 5 to 10 hours a day. You'd stop every hour for about 10 to 15 minutes for a picture/potty/lunch break. The potty is the closest rock or ravine. Every third hour or so you'd change horses, with the guides assigning and catching a horse for you.
After riding Icelandic horses all day, you get to the tourist hut, community center or guesthouse where the cold beer is waiting. --Then dinner. The cook's van also brought your duffel and sleeping bag. The nights were on foam pads - either in one big gymnasium, a bunk bed room and couple times in a private room (after all, we are a couple).
In the evening the group would sit around and talk in a variety of languages - on each trip we had Germans, some Swiss, some other Scandinavians, some Icelandics on holiday, a few from England and only two Americans - Charlie and I. Most everyone spoke English well. As the evenings progressed we became lubricated with a large variety of concoctions. A main staple of each evening's hilarity was Einar Einarsson's electric soup, a punch of fruit flavored juice and available liquor. Most of the times I just drink some plain juice, I don't need alcohol to loosen up and act crazy (as my friends can attest). We also entertained ourselves using the Ishestar songbook with a mixture of Beatles tunes, folk classics, German songs and Icelandic songs, accompanied on guitar by Ragnar Danielsen. I'll admit that after a drink or two, it's much easier to sing an Icelandic song.
Charlie says that he knew the evenings on these rides would be interesting when on the first night of the first trip Einar started to drum on the table and told the humorous Tiger Hunt story. Einar, the owner of Ishestar, is a former teacher of Scandinavian literature and former coach of the Icelandic National basketball team. At about 6'6" and 250+ he's really just a big kid. He's a great judge of character and an excellent ability to match up people with the right mount. Some people (like me) prefer to ride the same 3 to 5 horses the whole trip. Other people (like Charlie) prefer to ride a different horse every time they mount up.
Sure there are other ways and reasons to tour Iceland, but if this all sounds good to you don't forget to pack your silk long underwear, wool sweaters, jackets, and rubber riding boots. Iceland's summer is sort of like Northern California's winter, but in Iceland you can get all the variables on the same day. Most of the horse touring companies will provide rubber rain suits and riding helmets. After the first trip we got Australian-style outback coats and brought our own helmets. It all has to be very well sanitized because the horses in Iceland have no immunity to diseases and are not vaccinated for anything.
Typically there are 14 to 20 tourists on these rides, 4 or 5 guides and 60 to 100 horses. The really good riders are given the Icelandic horses that are very "willing" and they ride in the front of the herd with a guide to show the way. Their job is to go fast and stay in front of the herd no matter what. The rest of the tourists stay behind the herd and sometimes help the guides encourage stragglers to catch up. No one rides within the herd because your horse is liable to forget itself and not listen to rider instructions. There's lots of websites that can tell you all about the details on these horses. One of my favorites is about a Swiss horse named Ljomi.
The Icelandic horse is considered a large pony in the U.S. While it has been the same protected breed in Iceland for over 1000 years, in the U.S. they just started to appear in the 70s. Now there's probably close to 3,000 with the majority in California. There are quite a few breeders in both Canada and the U.S., you can check out the links I've provided for some of the places I'm familiar with. Or you can always go to Iceland, try out your own, and ship it home.
I reviewed over 500 slides to select the images on these pages. Each image can be clicked on and enlarged for your further enjoyment. I'd love to hear what you think of these pages. You're welcome to drop me an e-mail.
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