There’s nothing better than traveling to another country and immersing your trip with unique experiences. I’m constantly seeking them out! So when I saw the opportunity to go horse riding in Iceland through their amazing lava fields – I jumped at the chance. See, Iceland is known not only for it’s dramatic landscapes, but also for their beautiful Icelandic Horse. In fact – they’re the only breed of horse on the island and are native to Island. Around 140cm tall, internationally they’re dubbed as ‘ponies’ but don’t ever say that to a local! The standard classification for a horse is 1.47 meters so they’re right on the boarder and not only do they have the characteristics of a horse, but they are also the only horse in the world that can tölt (more on that later!) Pretty cool huh? So, without further ado, this was our magical horse riding experience during our stay in Reykjavik ❄️
So if you’re on this article right now, the chances are, you’re interested in some horse riding in Iceland. Nice choice! You’re going to LOVE it. As you start to do your research, you’re going to find a lot of tours – particularly from Reykjavik (the main tourist hotspot!) So, I’m going to make it nice and easy by recommending this one and this one alone. Why? Well firstly, because it was recommended to us and we were so grateful! Secondly, I’ve been on it myself so I can personally vouch for it. And last but certainly not least- these guys really love and look after their horses. Which I think is so important if you’re going to do any animal-related experience. So here’s the link for full details. You can thank me after!
Level of Experience:
I think it’s also important to note that if you haven’t been horse riding before, or you’re not very good at it, or it’s a little out of your comfort zone even – don’t let it put you off. I actually hadn’t been horse riding since I was in the Caribbean, in my teens. See, first my horse dragged me through a poisonous bush (yep, I literally had to wash off in a stream so that my body wouldn’t explode in rash’s – it gave our guide a panic that’s for sure!) then he BOLTED across the beach in full-on sprint mode, when someone kicked a ball which made him jump! I honestly thought that had put me off for life! But, these little guys are adorable and – as I’ll run through shortly – you have time even before you get on your horse, to bond with him / her. So there’s nothing to worry about I promise.
Our Trip From Start To Finish:
There are two trip times – 10am or 2pm (or 4pm in July and August)- pick up is arranged for outside your hotel an hour before. We went for the morning session, heading straight over to the riding centre from there. You get kitted out with everything you need on arrival, which includes riding helmets, rubber boots – and for us as it was during winter – some huge, warm overalls, to keep us both warm and dry. Beneath this I also kept on my big ski jacket, two jumpers and a thermal top – so I was super cosy!
You have a quick briefing then head over as a group to the stables, where you’ll then be matched with your horse. I’m not too sure what the matching criteria consists of, but I guess it’s based on your size and level of expertise. You’re then introduced to your horse and led outside where you have a little time to get to know him or her. This is outlined in the briefing, so that not only you feel more confident, but your horse feels happier too! My little man actually had a lot of similar traits to myself – he kind of made his own path as we went along, but he did listen when I pulled him in, so I still felt nice and safe.
We had some pretty crazy conditions, heading out during the start of a snow storm, but in all honesty, it only added to the experience! Our stables were just outside of Hafnarfjörður, which meant there were lots of great riding trails to choose from. Early on, the group was split into two- based on whether we’d like to do some running / tölting or just enjoy a steady walk. We went for the latter option, which meant not only could I relax, but also really take everything in!
Riding through the lava fields were amazing. I didn’t try to get much footage (for once!) as to be honest, I just wanted to enjoy the experience, but you can see some photos of the surroundings here. It’s really beautiful and with 1.5 – 2 hours on the horses, it’s long enough to see a good section of Iceland on horseback, but not too long that your bum aches TOO MUCH once you get off!
Once you’re back at the riding centre, you have some time to watch the horses unwind, which is amazing to see. As soon as the saddles are off, they love rolling around on the floor (I guess in the same way you’d have a good stretch after a hike!) You can walk around with them, spending some time there, before heading inside for a nice warm hot chocolate (with marshmallows of course!) – the perfect way to end a wonderful morning or afternoon adventure!
As you can see, this really is an all-year-round activity. I couldn’t really critique it and think it adds a whole new dimension to your Iceland adventure! If you’d like to try Icelandic Horse Riding Through Lava Fields, click here. Or for more experiences from Reykjavik, have a mooch below. I definitely recommend the Blue Lagoon Retreat Spa when you’re in the area – I wrote a special feature on that here – and no, it’s not sponsored, it’s just literally unreal!
Happy traveling! Any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments box below.