Iceland: Day 5: Icelandic Horses with Islenski Hesturinn

On our last full day in Iceland, we had one final tour: riding the famed Icelandic Horses to experience the unique tölt.

We rode with Islenski Hesturinn which ranks as the number one activity in Reykjavik on TripAdvisor.

We were picked up bright and early by our guide, Inga, and whisked off 10 minutes outside of Reykjavik to the barn.

The Icelandic horse is unique because it has 5 gaits instead of the typical 3 gaits. In addition to walk, trot, and gallop, the horses native to Iceland can also do what’s called a tölt and pacing. A tölt is close to a trot, but it is very smooth and does not cause the rider to bounce up and down. Here is a video (not ours) that shows a horse doing a tölt:

The entry of the barn is adorned with horse paraphernalia: horse hair, horse shoes, riding boots, helmets, and rain gear:

We got a quick intro to riding and “doing the tölt” from Inga who used a milk jug as a surrogate horse:

We opted for the rain gear – the skies looked questionable:

Next we were assigned horses based on experience, size, etc:

We rode out of the barn through meadows of purple lupine and headed under the main road:

Red Hills
On the other side of the tunnel, we found brick colored mounds of volcanic rock – an area called Rauðhólar, or Red Hills. These mounds and adjacent pseudocraters were formed when lava flowed over a wet area, causing the water below the surface to heat up, form steam, and ultimately explode downwards, creating a crater, while simultaneously throwing lava onto the mounds.

We stopped for a photo-op with our petite Icelandic steeds:

We rode up and around the mounds of rock and practiced our tölt.

After a good loop up and around the mounds, we headed back through the lupin back to the stables:

Here’s our first person view of the tölt. Note how (relatively) smooth the camera is. The ride is very pleasant and not jarring like a typical trot.

Post ride routine:
The horses were quite funny after we got back and removed the saddles. Horses often roll on the ground after a ride to scratch their backs, and many of our horses did just that, but these Icelandics also took their communal grooming to a whole new level:


Here are some parting horse shots with gratuitous forelocks:

A short van ride back to Rekyjavik and we said goodbye to Inga:

We’re off on an early flight to Copenhagen tomorrow morning… 4AM wake up call…

Happy RTW Travels!

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