For Katrín Sigurðardóttir of Icelandic Horseworld, horses are a way of life. Actually, they are a way of life for her whole family.
“It is really the only thing my parents ever did, work around horses and raise horses. We’ve talked about horses everyday my whole life,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve often wondered if I even have any friends who aren’t into horses – I don’t think so.”
Katrín and her husband live in Skeiðvellir, about 15 minutes from Hótel Rangá. They keep around 100 horses on the premises and offer varied options for those interested in learning more about the Icelandic horse.
They offer a variety of options for those curious about the Icelandic horse. For some, a simple staple visit might do while others might want to try their hand at riding for an hour or two. Experienced riders can book longer trips, and take in the land from horseback for up to four days.
“Our groups are always very small, six people tops in each group,” Katrín says. “We start all the rides in the equestrian center where we go over the preparation and everyone gets to try their horses out before we go outside.”
It’s important to choose the right horse for each rider, she says. Riders with more experience might like more spirited horses while those who have never ridden need calmer ones.
“We try to switch the horses out a bit, so they are fresh and rested,” Katrín says, adding that they also regularly bring the horses in for training to maintain their walks – especially the tölt, a unique four-beat lateral gait, that the breed is best known for.
“Most of our guests want to experience the tölt so we let everyone try it, even the beginners. If people ask to go slow we respect that and maintain a slower pace but usually, people want to try so then we do the tölt for short spells at a time. That’s usually the highlight of the trip.”
A great horse for children
Horse riding is a great activity for families. At Icelandic Horseworld, kids have to be ten or older to go riding outside but Katrín says they make exceptions for slightly younger children if they have experience. They also make exceptions in the case of families with one younger child, where an experienced rider leads the horse by the rains.
“We also offer stable visits where kids can ride the horse in the equestrian center while we lead it by the rains,” Katrín says. “They get to try combing the horse, help put the saddle on and then we walk a few circles. This is especially good for the younger kids although the cats or the dog often steal their attention away from the horses pretty quick”
Of course, there can’t be any horseplay around the horses, but the Icelandic horse is known to be exceptionally good natured. This makes it a great horse for children, Katrín says.
“It is incredibly healthy for everyone to learn how to behave around animals – and to respect them.”