Horse riding vacation in Iceland

“A six day summer small group riding vacation in the South of Iceland, with four riding days, staying in mountain huts and eco accommodation along the way. ”

Highlights

Four days’ horse riding | Thorsmork Nature Reserve | Hut to hut horse riding | Riding on Icelandic horses | Dimon Rock | Ride along river Markarfljot | Eyjafjallajökull | Elves Church | Stakkholtsgjá Canyon

Travel Team

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Accessible Overview:
This vacation is a little unconventional because, compared to a beach vacation, it requires your active participation. We are all different and an activity that’s straight forward for one person may not be straight forward for another. Some destinations have age restrictions, others may require specific planning, and you may have some personal requirements. There is almost always a way of making an itinerary work for everyone and over the years we have acquired considerable experience in making the impossible possible.
Limited mobility:
Everything that we do is tailor-made so if you have restricted mobility we will ask you some specific questions which will facilitate us to exercise a proper duty of care. Once we have the information from you we can liaise with in-country hotel managers, stable owners or whatever is required to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
We can be pretty flexible and adjust the duration of rides (some rides!) for a less-mobile rider.
Wheelchair:
If you require a wheelchair most of the time, or even all the time, you can still ride an Iceland Horse in Iceland. These rides are not suitable for novice riders, but if you have some experience in the saddle, then we can adapt our riding vacations for you. Please note that we do not have a hoist to lift riders into the saddle but we can provide a mounting block and guides to assist you into the saddle. You might need to stand with support and take maybe one or two paces away from your wheelchair with assistance for mounting.
Generally speaking we can’t guarantee a special vehicle adapted for wheelchairs. However, we can brief drivers to assist you getting into and out of a vehicle (so long as you’re OK with a little assistance) and your wheelchair can be stowed in the back.
Smaller hotels, lodges, mountain huts and suchlike don’t all have wheelchair access, but if you’re OK to be physically assisted, we can with pleasure provide that assistance. Larger hotels will have ramps, proper shower facilities and wider doorways. We can advise on the specifics of accommodations on this trip if you get in touch with us.
Blind or partially sighted:
There is no ‘one rule fits all’: please speak to us and we will run through the specifics of a given itinerary. As an example we have experience of a rider with 90% sight loss who completed a riding safari in Rajasthan. His wife accompanied him to provide an interpretation of the terrain ahead, and we paired him with an ultra-reliable horse. There was no jumping involved. Information in braille is not generally available overseas but local support from dedicated personnel is excellent.
Deaf or Limited hearing:
Air travel is feasible, even for a solo traveling deaf person. Once in-country we tend to hold daily briefings which can be summarised and relayed one-to-one from group leader to specific client.
'Free from' food:
We send all travelers a questionnaire specifically asking about their dietary needs and any allergies. This is standard practice. Do please be as thorough as possible in the information you provide us.
LGBT:
Iceland is a tolerant country and there should be no issues for LGBT travelers.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Horse riding vacation in Iceland

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Our destination is Thorsmork, a nature reserve surrounded on three sides by glaciers situated in the interior of southern Iceland. In order to reach this we use the most environmentally sensitive form of transport – the horse which is quiet and gentle on the environment and a natural part of the habitat.

We use the Icelandic horse. Sometime around the year 900 Norsemen brought horses to Iceland from Scandinavia, and thus began the distinctive breed that we know today. Natural selection due to the harsh climate, coupled with selective breeding, has manipulated and moulded to become a resilient, multi-purpose horse. The breed society was established in 1904.

Iceland is just about free from horse diseases because imports are banned and horses that are exported can never return. In Iceland the horses are first and foremost used as working horses, herding sheep. There is also a thriving leisure industry and the all-important racing. The ranch we use has about 300 horses which include riding horses, stallions, brood mares and young stock. The ranch is conducting a breeding program of the highest standard thus ensuring the survival and improvement of the Icelandic horse by supporting it we are supporting the program.

Welfare of the horse is important to us and to the ranch. English saddles and snaffle bits are used as they are comfortable for horse and rider.

One of the lodges we use as our accommodation was the first lodging in Iceland to receive the Nordic eco label – the Nordic swan which demonstrates that the building process and the daily operations follow strict ecological guidelines. The other lodges we use are older so were built before the building could have been given a label but do endeavor to reduce carbon footprint.

At home our Office encourages recycling and we work in an eco build office. Our building has facilities to encourage the use of bicycles to work.

Community

We are acutely aware of the economic, ecological and ethical impact tourism should have on indigenous communities and fragile environments.
The ranch we use on this trip hires local people to work. For many of the people working on the ranch riding and horses are their passion and they supplement the income generated in the riding months by having other jobs in the winter.

In addition we support the local economy by using a locally run and owned farm house and hut as well as the eco built lodge as our accommodation. We do not use the multi national hotel chains.

The horse is a vital part of traditional Viking culture which is rich in sagas that date from around this time and there are frequent references to horses. We feel we are supporting the traditional culture of Iceland on this trip where travelers will hear stories and learn lots about the role of the horse in Icelandic culture.

Before our clients travel we issue them with a Field Manual which has information in it to encourage travel in an culturally and environmentally aware manner.

1 Reviews of Horse riding vacation in Iceland

4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 22 Jun 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Excellent throughout. We rode (mainly tolting and walking, but some cantering once the guide was certain of our riding ability) across varied terrain, which
was wonderful, and each tried out several different ponies, selecting our favourite for riding on the last day. Our final day's riding ended with a magnificent gallop along a deserted beach, after crossing estuarine waters.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be honest about your riding ability. Don't pretend to be more experienced than you really are, as you won't last beyond the first day of riding. Also, all new groups of riders are assessed when they first mount and ride around an arena and non-riders will soon be spotted and could be asked to join a less-experienced group. The welfare of the ponies is paramount, so tell the truth about your weight too. Icelandic ponies are sturdy, but there are limits to how much weight they should carry.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, as many local people are employed there, and recycling and environmental protection is evident everywhere.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent. I'd like to go again, and, now I'm certain that I could cope with it, perhaps try one of the trail rides last several days, instead of the daily circular
routes of this vacation.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear A.M. I am pleased to hear that you enjoyed your visit to Iceland; it really is a fantastic destination, and the Icelandic horses are great characters! You and I had a good long chat before you booked and I thought this would be a destination you'd enjoy; matching rider to destination, as you say, is so important. I'm plesed that my Viking partners looked after you and your daughter well! Best wishes,

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