Iceland horses are cute to look at and known as most pacific creatures. They also feature a kinetic characteristic unique to them: Their ability to shift into an auxiliary gait called „toelta“ offers a heart-warming sight and ideally transmits a pleasant feeling throughout every rider’s body. Due to Iceland’s isolated location, the genetic foundations of these pretty horses have not been shaken; their sturdy physique and adorable mentality remained unaltered ever since slender viking ships brought them ashore more than eleven hundred years ago. Why not exchange four wheels spun by noisy mechanical horse powers against four legs and a few happy neighs at the speed of one single leisurely HP lollop style? To explore the country by pollution-free means and to watch the fluffy blond manes flying from a horseback perspective, is a challenge rewarding like no other.
A mild climate, memorable evenings in a daylight seemingly lasting forever, crackling camp fires for the authentic cowboy way and a sometimes steamy scenery that strikes many as alien, are perfect arguments to bridle a horse for a different kind of experience. Glaciers, geysers, volcanos, lava fields, the sun, the stars, the moon, flora, fauna, wind and weather could not be closer and the atmosphere hardly calmer and more intimate than during an adventurous sheep gathering ride in September. Trolls permitting.
Sheep Gathering in Landmannalaugar
Local farmers and their ancestors have gathered sheep in this area for centuries. On this exceptional tour the group joins them to learn how to manage the flock and how to direct the sheep down steep hillsides, across rivers and out of sheltered valleys to their resting place for the night.The procedure is repeated day after day until thousands of sheep are driven from their grazing grounds at Landmannaafréttur back home to individual farmer’s green pastures.
Team spirit and perseverance required
This is everything but a customized riding tour for VIP’s!
All participants enrolling for this annually reoccurring tradition need to be in good mental and physical shape, be comfortable on horseback for many hours a day over a full week and be able – and prepared – to work hand in hand with others. A callous here and there has to be anticipated. Team spirit and camaraderie are the magic words. Everyone just has to blend in and to understand that they are one of the crowd rather than expecting privileged treatment! The farmers rely on all group members equally to fulfil their daily duties with a sense of utmost responsibility. Their livestock being the stock of their lives!
Sheep are collected from a territory covered in the black sands and ashes disgorged by volcanoes in many a furious eruption over the course of time, but the trek is also going to pass spectacular mountain sides of rhyolite shimmering in mystical shades of yellow, red and green. At noon of the final day the sorting of the sheep begins and will not end until each animal has been returned to its owner. A flask is handed around to celebrate a successful ride and round-up and lots of laughter and singing will be shared by a group that is now a robust entity.
Date: Friday – Thursday (September 20 – 26, 2014)
Duration: 7 days, 6 nights = 6 riding days
Participants: max. 8
Riding skills: strong intermediate riders with a firm seat, comfortable in the saddle for up to seven hours per day and in control at all paces.
Note: some walking will be required as well
Accommodation: sleeping bag (bring your own!) in simple mountain cabins, shared with the local farmers on the tour
Meeting place: Reykjavik
More detailed information on the itinerary, the package and the price at
Photos courtesy of Inspired by Iceland.