Horseback Ride in Varmahlid, Skagafjordur, Iceland
Full disclosure that Iceland is one of my absolutely favorite places to visit…I think it is so magical and I cannot wait to go back! So it's no wonder that when I went on a trip-of-a-lifetime in March 2019, I ventured around the country for 10 days and was able to experience a bunch of amazing adventures that I'll share in future blogs.
For today, I am sharing an activity that many, many people can try and I encourage you to do the same - horseback riding. Especially if I could do it, I think you should definitely consider it! And while I think and I'll share why Iceland offers such a unique landscape to ride - I hope you'll check it out on my YouTube video - I know you can also try this in many travel destinations and it creates a really different and fun way to see and experience a new landscape. Plus I believe there's a good chance it's an easy way to be socially distanced and conduct with a mask while outdoors - always a bonus right now to find activities you can keep doing:)
Now you might find it funny or ironic that as a self-admitted try-something-new addict, I actually have a big pucker factor when I think of riding a horse. They are beautiful animals and sooooo big! I have the fear and scary image in my head of the horse bolting uncontrollably and me riding off into the distance, never to be caught again. But I know that's most likely NOT going to happen so I have to remember to relax, breathe and trust in my instructor and my horse and fake it until I make it. I eventually do chill and really enjoy it. The beauty, the quiet, the being out in nature…all of it.
As a real newbie to horses, I off course needed help with the mounting and dismounting and was very happy to see they have step stools and other helpful tools for those of us who may be a bit "challenged" getting started with their new equine partner. I asked many questions ahead of securing this activity about such accommodations for newbies and for those who have NO idea what I'm doing and my host, HestaSport, in Varmahlid, did a wonderful job of allaying my concerns and getting me set up.
I am often asked about how I found it. I started researching online the best activities in Iceland and this horseback riding activity came up for several locations around the country. As I was planning a 10 day trip, there were numerous "experiences" and adventures I wanted to sign up for and a list of places I HAD to visit so I started keeping a list of these and little by little, I started identifying which experience I wanted for each location. A great example is on the southern coast. There are great horseback riding excursions there too but instead, I wanted to spend my time in that area on the glacier hikes. I mean, OMG, being able to hike on a glacier!?!?! So I then chose that I'd ride the iconic Icelandic Horses in another region. I chose the north central region due to the timing of my travels around the country and the activities I prioritized in each area.
I worked with a tour company, NordicVisitor, and they were wonderful. I did not select a pre-arranged package but instead worked with their advisors to modify their 10 day tour to fit my needs. It took a bit longer online to plan than I expected and a reminder to my American friends to remember there are cultural differences in the email so be patient and sensitive when making requests and setting up your plans.
The experience was better than I expected. I had such a great list of activities while I was in Iceland and this was one that I knew would be nice, but not at the top of what I was looking forward to. I was pleasantly surprised as it was also magical. Our guide, Gulia (German spelling for Julia), was lovely, and after outfitting me in a giant riding jumpsuit and safety helmet, she gave us all the safety briefing, introduced us to our sweet horses and got us on our way. She told us wonderful local and historic stories that really gave us a flavor of the significance of the Icelandic Horse to the Icelandic people. We were in the middle of a valley - again check out the images on my video - and followed it up with an iconic waterfall mini-hike or walk right next to the farms. Again…truly magical.
What did I end up with in the end? An absolutely unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience with one of my closest friends in Iceland. I cannot wait to go back and do it again and also think where else I can set up an equine adventure…..Sonoma? Montana? Wow….the options are endless!!!!
I encourage you to join our community to get more of the scoop on how to get started planning your next adventure, whether it's a horseback ride on the trails in the desert or one of the many other activities we'll recommend. It's so fantastic exploring different geographies and it is so wonderful for your soul and mental health. Join us and get out here and give it a try!
Special shout out to the Wendy Faves that were a part of making this in Iceland so awesome - I encourage you to check them out. In full disclosure, links listed in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you - thank you for your support!!!
Nordic Visitor - www.nordicvisitor.com
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