Experiencing the Icelandic Horse

Experiencing the Icelandic Horse

Icelandic Horses are a highly specialized breed that are, of course, mainly found in Iceland. Iceland is special in that there are no diseases naturally found in their horses, but this leaves competitive riders with a devastating decision- should they decide to take their horses to compete internationally, they will never be allowed to return for fear of infection.


While small, Icelandic Horses should never be referred to as ponies- any Icelandic native within earshot will immediately correct your mistake. Despite their size, they are very sturdy and are capable of carrying large loads for great distances. They are most well known for their unique gait the tölt, which is a quick four-beat gait that is both comfortable and ground-covering.


While I visited Iceland, I chose to ride with Islenski Hesturinn, which translates simply to the Icelandic Horse. The horses on the property are clearly loved and well taken care of. They are a small selection of a large herd of horses and are often rotated to make sure that no horse is overworked.


There are a variety of different tours to accommodate different skill levels and I chose to go on a Volcanic Landscape tour for riders of all skill levels. Pickups are available from hotels and guesthouses which makes travel simple. Once we arrived, the owner Begga Rist gave all riders a brief overview of the Icelandic Horse, including how to ride them properly- helpful both for new riders and those like myself, who are used to a different riding technique. We were offered cold weather gear, boots, and helmets before we were introduced to our horses. Mine was a cutie named Barón.

The ride itself brings you along alien landscapes of red and brown and there are plenty of opportunities to try out the famous tölt. The horses like to stick together and you are sandwiched between two experienced riders from the tour, so there is no risk of getting lost! Begga makes sure to stop and pose each rider in front of a beautiful backdrop for pictures, which are sent to each rider free of charge.


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