Are there mobile toilets on our way? And other important things to know on a horseback riding tour.
The unchallenged golden oldie: “What is the weather going to be like today?”
Uffff, it is weather… Seriously, often we don’t know exactly enough to bet on it. Because betting in these circumstances would, for example, mean: Only take a thin jacket with you. And if you lose the bet you’re gonna freeze like hell on your horse. Not funny…
Sure there is an official weather forecast with all details about wind, temperature, humidity and even earthquakes. But how much can you trust a forecast made perhaps a few hours in advance, when the wind can turn at a blink of an eye and change the weather from sunny to snow? So better be safe and prepared for everything. In all this uncertainty there is one thing you can take for granted: layers and rain gear are your best bet.
The easy one: “What is the age of this horse?”
She/he is 15 +/- 7 years. Solved…
Ok, I’ll give you some more details. The range above covers about 95% of the horses we are going to take with us. Sometimes we have some youngsters with us, usually just for training, not for riding. And a few horses are older than 22 but still in such good shape you won’t even notice when you meet them. So as soon and as long as a horse is physically and mentally strong enough to come on the tours, they are coming with us. But like with human beings some are developing faster, other stay healthy longer. So you can’t decide only by year of birth whether a horse is ready or still able to run with us.
The Hitchcock: “Why is the staff going to the field wearing their riding hat or carrying a piece of wood?”
Ever heard of birds nesting on the ground? Can you imagine what they do if you step into their territory? They attack! Like hell! The real deal - including sound effects! And they don’t only threaten that something will happen if you don’t stay away. No, they go all-in and attack you from above. Ever seen Alfred Hitchcock’s “Birds”? It looks quite similar when the whole colony is upset and fighting for the lives of their chicks. So don’t mess with Kría, and if you do, better protect your scalp!
The important one: “Are there any water fountains or taps to fill up my water bottle during the ride?”
No there aren’t, but there are rivers.
One of the amazing things about the Icelandic nature is that water in rivers is pure and drinkable (and, in fact, delicious!). Well, I wouldn’t try it right underneath an aluminium factory or on a pasture full of sheep. But in general you have a good chance of quenching your thirst along the way. Sometimes the waterways are next to our route but not visible, so if you like to do it the old Icelandic way, let us know and we will give you a hint.
The relieving (or even more important) one: “Are there mobile toilets on our way?”
Yes, on every stop we do, right behind your horse. No, I am not joking. Your horse might give you the best screen possible from being watched peeing, because there are not really many trees around. But if you are very lucky, you may spot a rock or a dip accessible by a short walk.
The two most important rules about peeing in open nature in Iceland:
Always pee with the wind! It’s blowing in the wind, lalalalala - or you may be sprayed in a way you probably won’t like.
Always take your used paper with you and throw it in the trash back home. The paper won’t decompose in nature and cause years of pollution of the nature or even harm animals.
The embarrassing one: „How often do people fall off their horses?”
To be honest with you, the right question would be: How often does a member of staff fall off his/her horse? Seriously, usually it’s us (staff) sliding, falling, flying off our horses - and not the guests.
I’ve seen everybody falling, except Siggi. And of course we are making fun of ourselves when it happens and like to tease each other – if needed, again and again ;-).
There is not a distinctive reason why falling off horses is so unevenly spread between staff and guests. We do not ride crazy horses, do stupid things or are unattentive, (ok sometimes, something may happen) but usually there is no specific reason, so let’s say: We are just polite. We like to take the weight of falling off a horse off our guests’ shoulders.
Whatever it is, we are happy and proud to have had only very few accidents over all these years we have now een conducting riding tours and will make every effort to maintain this level of security for our guests!
The stressful one: “What to do when my horse is getting tense?”
Very simple: sing!
No joke - singing is the most effective way to relax. First yourself and subsequently your horse.
You need breath properly and you need focus to sing. So your brain won’t be stuck on “shit what am I doing, what is my horse doing, what should I do, I don’t want to fall off, I can’t pull any more, I am completely lost” and so on (although a combination of all these feelings is extremely rare!).
You need to loosen your stiff muscles and your cramped arms and legs to be able to use the muscles needed to sing. And if you’re sitting in the saddle in a relaxed way again, breathing, no longer squeezing your horse with your legs and your butt while pulling on the reins, your horse will most probably react to it in the way that he is also relaxing. Horses like to take the easiest way and stress is never easy.