In the summer of 2014 I traveled to Iceland with a group of artists. I share my travelog, paintings and photos here. I returned to Iceland in the summer of 2016 and my stories continue.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Iceland: Through the Eye's of an Artist part 13 The Icelandic Horse

'White Horse Meadow'         5x7       pastel
 It was a ride of a lifetime. All of my life I've dreamt about galloping across a flower filled meadow on the back of a beautiful horse....mane and tail flowing in the wind. My dream came true in Iceland on a gorgeous Icelandic Horse. It was a magical experience.

The Icelandic horse is special. They are small and very strong and hardy. Since no horses have been imported to Iceland since importation was  banned in the 11th century, the horses in Iceland today are the same as they were 900 years ago. They are known for having 5 gaits with the best known gait being the tolt. The tolt is a smooth gait that carries a rider very comfortably over rough ground. I can attest to this!

I had booked my horseback riding tour before my trip. During the week of the workshop the anticipation for my ride was building. We saw these beautiful horses everywhere. It was a challenge to get good photos while we were driving though we did ask Stan and Corey for a few 'horse photo ops' and they happily obliged.

Adorable foal at the shark museum

Finally the day of my tour arrived. I looked out the window and it was raining....and it was windy and cold. A front was moving in. The good news was the tour was still on and I was going to make the best of it. I layered up from my long underwear to my new Icelandic wool socks and rainboots. The rain stopped just as we boarded the van to the Laxness Horse Farm.  It was going to be a good day!

My experience at Laxness Horse Farm was perfect despite the messy weather. There were about 10 of us in the group including my new friend from Lapland (you meet the best people on the bus!)  We were ushered into a room to gear up....rain pants, jackets, boots, gloves and helmet all included. Next step was to meet your horse. I was asked about my riding experience which was not much but regular trail rides.  The guide thought a minute and said he would be right back..he had just the right horse for me. He walked into the corral and came out with my horse Odina. She was beautiful. She was careful and had just the right amount of spirit. She was perfect!

Getting ready to ride!

Play ball with me!

Yes, she is the perfect horse for me.

We started out on our ride....single file through a meadow filled with Lupine. We gradually climbed the hillside until we were above the farm. The path leveled out and we began to move along more quickly....and even more quickly. This was no ordinary trail ride. We were really riding!  We continued riding past waterfalls and crossing streams which Odina did with such care. We climbed higher and higher ever so close to the edge but I felt secure on my horse. Every so often the wind would pick up and it would sprinkle. It was raw and so alive! (so much more exciting than a sunny day)

Across the moody and mystical countryside of Iceland

At the halfway point we dismounted to give our horses a rest. Our guides went around the group and asked how we were with the speed of the ride and if we wanted to go faster. Hmmmmm. My heart overruled my head and I said FASTER! So the group was divided into two and I wondered if I did the smart thing. Oh well. You only live once as they say.

Odina takes a rest

I am so glad my heart said yes. Odina and I flew like the wind over the meadows and streams. Wind and rain whipping us we ran and I quickly found her rhythm and moved with her across the rough terrain. Odina was so smooth. Her thick mane and tail were flowing. I could hear the thundering of hooves and feel the splash of the rain. All of my childhood dreams were coming to life in Iceland. I couldn't stop smiling. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.

We are flying!
The second part of my tour was a trip to the Blue Lagoon, the famous geothermal pool known for its warm milky blue water. The perfect way to end the day was a soak in the warm and soothing water. Another memory was made.

selfie with my horse

'Odina'              5x7            pastel             ©Karen Margulis

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