gave them full time break in June and July to gained weight and get a little fat before the tour.
We started our tour in the North by the lighthouse at Fontur in Langanes (the "bird" on the Iceland map) so we had to drive our horses 750 km from Álftanes, where most of us live. We had one big van suitable for 15 horses and then two horse trailers. We had to stay overnight half way since it was quite a journey for the horses. The horses were so happy when we arrived at the starting point and eager to start their journey back home, we, the riders, were both excited and nervous! After just 2 hours ride by steep bird cliffs my Australian Sheepdog, Stjarna, totally disappeared. We looked everywhere for her and the group decided to keep on going while I kept calling her name in desperation. I did not ride more that day and the poor dog was totally lost. The local farmers where quite sure she had fallen off the cliff while chasing some puffins and was probably dead. I did not sleep much that night. But we kept on going and after riding 20 km on day two we got a phone call. My dog was found alive! Nobody knew what had happened, but she was found wandering around the lighthouse (where we started the tour) the next day. Oh my, I was so happy! But the dog stayed in the car for the rest of the tour and was taken home later.
The first six days we rode on great riding paths in North Iceland with some wonderful guides and partners. We rode over lava, plume, heath, rivers, bridges and riding tracks. We all agree that the Northern Part of the ride was the best, perhaps because this was our first-time riding in the North for all of us. The scenery was stunning, we had great guides and we met some nice people. We stayed mostly in guesthouses in the north, nice, clean and affordable sleeping bag accommodation. After six days riding from Fontur to Lake Mývatn we took one day off to rest the horses (and ourselves) before heading into and over the highland.
Our highland ride began on a sunny day at the farm Mýri in Bárðardalur after a lovely private accordion and singing concert from the farmer. Next seven days we enjoyed the interior of Iceland, barren landscape, breathtaking glacier views, sandy deserts and rough terrain. We stayed overnight in cozy mountain huts, some even with natural geothermal pool. There was hardly any grass on this route, so we had to feed the horses with hay in the evenings and in the mornings, so this was for sure the most difficult part for the horses. One of us celebrated his 60th birthday in a remote mountain hut close to Hofsjökull glacier. He got the most beautiful birthday present I have seen - a big and colorful rainbow when we arrived. I said it must be from his friends in heaven. The next day we had one dangerous river to cross, so we had to be ready in the saddle at 05:00 am. This day was filled with excitement as we rode towards the river as we had heard some horror stories about drowning horses and riders. We were at the river early as planned, all geared up, almost in swim suit and with goggles but the river was calm that day so the ride across was very easy. We were of course very glad but there was a slight disappointment as we had expected and imagined something else. On the last day in the highlands, when riding back to civilization, we rode along the stunning Laxárgljúfur Canyon and the horses knew they were on their way to green fields again. It was a long day in the saddle but fast! And of course, we took one day off, both for horses and humans. The horses were happy and relaxed in the green fields of South Iceland.
The last part of our ride took place in South Iceland. It was sunny and warm all days when we rode along farmlands, on sandy beaches by the Atlantic Ocean and on the lava field of Reykjanes peninsula. We got some fellow riders along, even a local riding club who accompanied us on the last day. We were met by a journalist and a photographer, so we were in the headlines the next day! On the last day we were invited by the local riding club in Grindavik for a coffee, cakes and champagne but we had mixed feelings on this last day. We were both happy and sad it was over, and we cried tears of joy and sadness by the lighthouse at Reykjanes peninsula. The 19 days trip had come to an end. 715 km across Iceland in company of great friends and horses.
The horses were the heroes of the tour! The Icelandic horse is so strong and sturdy. Out of 36 horses, one was injured on day one, two were sent home in the middle of the tour as one had bad leg and one getting too thin. I cannot praise the horses enough, they are simply the best! I have been riding since the age of 16 and gone on many riding tours but this one was special.
Now I just must start plan the riding tour on my 60th birthday – will you join me?
Text and photos: Steinunn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
More photos and videos on our Facebook page: Fontur - Reykjanestá 2014