A Good Start to the Day: our first sunny morning in Iceland
Our accommodation was too far from everything to plan a visit to the Vatnajökull (also, we couldn’t be bothered hiking), so we kept it simple: head to the information office in Kirkjunkluser, check out the best horse riding options and visit Vik, the southernmost city in Iceland and also the only seaside town not to have a harbour.
We woke up to bright sunlight, the extremely kind ladies at the tourist office helped us booking a one hour session at a horse farm and everything was shiny happy people, so much so that I also got a free coffee.
We bought a bag of home-made doughnuts and eagerly drove to sunny Vik and the little horses waiting for us. It is obvious that under these circumstances things were about to go wrong, but once again we failed to notice the signs and fell for it.
A nice Danish lady was waiting for us at the farm, dressed as if she just finished a shooting session in a western movie. I was looking forward this experience, whilst Martina appeared quite anxious, or rather petrified in terror, despite being lured by the hype. In all this excitement we even forgot to ask our guide the name, so I’ll call her Lina.
After some preparation we walked to the muddy corral where we wore our helmets, looking very serious. Unlike our expectations none of those short but sturdily built horses was towed waiting for us. In fact only with the help of the entire family and two dogs Lina managed to tame 3 horses and lead them to us. They seemed unruly and unwilling to cooperate, which made Martina even more nervous.
Our disastrous horse riding experience
After one hour from our booking time we finally managed to get in the saddle. Not great timing as it pushes forward our visit to Vik and because, in the meanwhile, the sun gave way to dark clouds and soon started to rain pretty heavily.
Lina led the reluctant horses, and us with them, on the black basaltic beach, a scenery we might have even enjoyed if it wasn’t pouring down so hard. We proceed in line, Martina’s horse slowly plodding behind while mine is showing no respect whatsoever of my timid orders.
By the time we stopped and dismounted, to let a helicopter hovering past, we had already realized that we parted with a precious lump of notes just to sit for an hour on an animal while getting soaked to the underwear.
As the helicopter get out of the way and we take our place in the saddle, my horse Ypis got quickly on the way back to the farm. But sadly it was not time yet. We needed to get closer to the stone arch in Dyrhólaey, which must have been a pretty scenic view if rain, clouds and mist hadn’t covered it.
I was expecting this experience to be more enjoyable, a true connection between man and horse, instead the only thing that connected me with Ypis was that neither of us wanted to be there, doing that. At some point – approaching the farm – he even gave up, stopping on the beach, and I was so tempted to get off and run to the car.
Martina and I couldn’t even talk to each other as the horses were marching in line: a pathetic, wet, silent procession. When this was finally over we profusely thanked Lina and dashed, wet to the bones, to the car and didn’t stop until we reached the hot tub in our guesthouse.
Where (not) to do it
The farm we went to was Mið-Hvoll (www.hvoll.com) few miles west of Vik. At the time it seemed to be the only place offering horse riding in the area, however one reader recently reported another farm offering this service: Skalakot (www.skalakot.com) and their feedback was extremely positive
Other readers had to go to our same farm and their reports were mixed. They consistently reported confusion and lack of organization but some of them managed to still have a good time. Surely our lack of confidence with horses and the bad weather (and maybe a bad day for the horses too) influenced our experience.
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