Peering out the window on route to the Snorrastaðir farm, I quip that English horses must be photo shopped, as the ones I spot outside all look rather small. “Shh”, my friend whispers. “The Icelanders are sensitive about their horses”. They have a right to be; ponies in Iceland are extremely beautiful (if a little short). With heights from 1.20 to 1.45 metres, they perform five distinct gaits including the ‘tölt’ and ‘flying pace’.
The Icelandic horse originates from Scandinavian and European breeds during original and subsequent settlements and has been bred purely for centuries. Often called ponies they are considered a “horse” and to call them “ponies” is likely to offend many breeders.
Snorrastaðir’s Cottages are open all year and when my companions and I arrived we were immediately focused on which horses would be chosen for us. Like buying a car, they were scrutinised for their beauty, steadiness and reliability, and how they suit their respective riders. My friend, mounted on a beautiful Palomino, quipped he would be riding a hot Icelandic blonde all day. Mine was swapped for my companion’s much more active number, ‘Fantasy’, who had been slightly adamant about not leaving the paddock.
Going horse riding is a lot about your co-riders – office types in riding hats, kids begging parents to let them come, and the trusty sheepdog constantly threading in and out of the paddock, eyes on the horizon, occasionally trying to herd cars. We rode in and out of rivers, with Snæfellsjökull Mountain in the distance. Our small city-slicker group ended up on the beach: the tide out, a huge expanse of wet sand and sunlight to one side of us. Our horses resting, I fixed Fantasy’s saddle which had come loose from a heavy trot and it seemed that she, much like her rider, was only stubborn when hungry. Stuffing her face with grass, she calmed as we watched another group gallop out like lightning across the wet sand, like some romantic motion picture – ‘pure freedom’. I asked our tour guide ‘when we ride better, will we do that?’ ‘Maybe next time’ she said.
- Snorrastaðir Farm Holidays www.snorrastadir.is Tel: 435 6628