Horse Riding Tours

Horse Riding Tours | Guide to Iceland

Horse Riding Tours
Icelandic horses are a breed renowned for their reliability, intelligence, small stature and friendly character. Horse riding tours are the perfect way to explore Iceland’s rugged terrain. Adventure over lava fields, volcanic landscapes, hills, and explore hot springs in the Icelandic countryside.

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The Icelandic Horse

Initially imported by Norse settlers, the Icelandic horse is one of the oldest, rarest and purest breeds in the world, having existed on the sub-arctic island in isolation for over 1000-years.

The breed is known and revered for its shaggy, stocky appearance, raw strength and gentle temperament. Unlike other breeds, moreover, the Icelandic horse has a fifth gait called "tölt." Before the arrival of the automobile, this gait proved invaluable to Icelanders as it made it relatively easy to travel long distances by guaranteeing a smooth ride on the poorest of roads.

To protect the Icelandic horse against disease, and to preserve the purity of the breed, no foreign horses are allowed to enter the country. In fact, Icelandic horses may not return home once they have left the island. Therefore, when Icelandic equestrians travel internationally for competition, they will often leave their best horses at home to avoid having to abandon them abroad.

Icelandic horses were initially used for transport and farming. Although they are mostly only used for competitions and leisure riding today, many farmers still use them for backcountry travel and sheep herding.

There are over 80,000 horses in Iceland—a significant number when you consider that there are only 350,000 people. This means that where ever you may find yourself while travelling in Iceland, you will have the option of exploring the country on horseback via a horse riding tour, and get to know the beautiful animal that is the Icelandic horse.

Should you love horses, Skagafjörður fjord is a must-visit, as this area is renowned for its horse riding culture and its large horse population.

Frequently asked questions

How long is the actual riding time?

It depends on the tour you choose, but you can expect to ride on the horse for between one and three hours. Please check the individual tour descriptions for further information.

Do I need any riding experience?

For certain tours, yes, but you can find numerous tours which accommodate inexperienced or beginner riders. Please check the individual tour descriptions for full clarity on any prior horse riding experience required.

What should I wear on a horse riding tour?

Warm and waterproof layers of clothing, sturdy shoes (such as riding boots or hiking shoes), gloves and a thin hat to wear under your helmet. All other equipment will be provided to you by the tour provider at the start of your tour.

How old do you have to be to go on a horse riding tour?

It depends on the tour. For shorter tours, the age limit is usually either seven or eight years old.

Is there a weight limit for horse riding tours?

The Icelandic horse can carry an adult without difficulty. However, the maximum weight will depend on the particular tour you choose. If you have any concerns regarding this, please contact us at info@guidetoiceland.is

Will the tour be cancelled if there is rain?

Tours are usually not cancelled due to rain but if you are worried about cancellation, you can check with your tour provider on the day of your tour.

Do I need to bring any equipment for a horse riding tour?

Only warm clothes and sturdy shoes. Helmets and overalls will be provided on-site by the tour provider.

What gaits will I experience?

This depends on the tour. At the very least, you will experience the walk, the trot and the Icelandic horse’s unique tolt.

What do Icelandic horses like to eat? Can I bring them treats?

You should not feed the horses without asking the owners or tour guides since the horses are well fed and should not have their diet interrupted. If you wish to bond with your horse by feeding it, simply pick up some grass or hay from the ground and see if they feel like having a snack.

Do Icelandic horses only exist in Iceland? Does Iceland have any other horse breeds?

The Icelandic horse is an isolated and protected breed. No other breeds of horse are allowed into Iceland. The Icelandic horse may be exported, but the animals that leave can never return.