It’s Friday morning, around quarter past nine and me, the photographer, and an older Danish man and his wife are being driven to Laxnes in Mosfellssveit by Þórarinn “Póri” Jónasson. He and his wife Ragnheiður founded Laxnes Hestaferðir exactly 40 years ago last May. He tells me that he and Ragnheiður started off with only twelve horses but today own more than a hundred and get approximately 10,000 visitors a year. He also tells me that he originally moved to Laxnes with the intention of opening some sort of country club, but that people from Reykjavík had considered Mosfellsveit so ridiculously far away that they couldn’t be bothered to go all that way to get out of town, which is ironic given that the city has expanded so fast that Laxnes is now pretty much as close as you can get without still being in town.
When we get there we meet Ragnheiður for the first time, as well as two Danish girls working for them. We quickly suit up, ready our horses and head off with one of the Danes acting as a tour guide. Unfortunately her horse stumbles soon after we start and hurts itself, so she has to walk back and the other Danish girl takes her place. I’m a born and bred city kid and more likely to see beauty in a drain-pipe than a waterfall but in all fairness the valley is absolutely amazing and I’m quite surprised by how far from civilisation it feels. The horses are very well tamed and obedient and everyone working there is very friendly and easy-going. After the tour we are offered warm coffee or cold beer, (both of which are highly agreeable after a day of riding) and we talk to Póri about his business, his entrepreneurial role in the Icelandic tourist industry and his horses.
Simply put, Laxnes is the ideal place to go if you want to ride but can’t or don’t want to go too far. The riding tour is fantastic for beginners although I can imagine that more seasoned riders would get a bit bored after a while. Given how much the immediate countryside around the Reykjavík area has changed in recent decades, I find it nothing short of amazing that this place is still as unspoiled as it is and it is definitely worth visiting. After all, who can say what it will look like after another 40 years at the rate we’re expanding?