Sunday, September 4, 2011

Our Day with Viking Ponies

The Vikings arrived in Iceland more than a thousand years ago, bringing their small Nordic horses with them. Today, because of isolation, the breed is as pure as the day the Vikings brought them. Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and once exported, the horses are never allowed to return.

Often referred to as Viking ponies because of their small size, they are horses. They are gentle, friendly and willing animals. They come in all colors from white to black, palomino to silver, and everything in between. The Icelandic horse is also renowned for its five gaits, the most popular being the tölt. The tölt is a four beat running-walk with flowing movement, which is easy and comfortable to ride.

We had the opportunity to ride, English style, at the Þúfa farm in Kjós. Our ride started from the Þúfa farm and we rode towards a very small river called, Skorá. We followed the banks of the river, crossing it a few times.

It is customary on Icelandic rides to allow the horses a short break to eat some grass and drink water from the river. The hillside where we stopped was covered in Krækiber, Icelandic black berries. While our horses got their fill of the grass, we picked some of the wild berries, which are somewhere between somewhat sweet and bitter.

My horse was only six years old, the youngest of our bunch, and she liked to run. I definitely got to experience the famous tölt. Tim's horse, who was 20 years old, was a bit slower and took his time along the trail. We had a wonderful ride at the Þúfa farm, with beautiful scenery!