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A TÖLT ON THE WILD SIDE

A riding adventure in Iceland is about more than horses and stunning landscapes. Over their week together, a group of women experienced gratitude and a deep connection.

Now ask your horses to tölt,” instructed Björk Jakobsdóttir, our Icelandic guide. I took a deep breath, lifted my hands and took more contact, scooped my seat under and closed my legs. Klængur, the fi rst of many delightful Icelandic horses I would ride over the week-long adventure, rewarded me with a few steps of this mystical gait unique to the breed. I played around with my aids, hunting for the perfect formula to sustain the natural, fl owing gait, which has four beats like a walk but can match the speed of a gallop. The sturdy chestnut (a color the Icelandic people call “red”), with his easy-going attitude and clear paces, was the perfect partner for my experiments.

When I got it right, he felt like a speedboat skimming atop the water: His hind end dropped and came underneath my seat while his front end rose up and filled out the bridle, effortlessly gliding over the ground in comfort. Decked out in oversized orange weather gear, our group of women headed out of the arena for a two-hour ride around Ölfus, where Eldhestar (literally “volcano horses”), the outfitter, is located.

Led by Björk and Caroline Owen, better known as “Cline,” representing Wild Women Expeditions (wildwomenexpeditions.com), our Canadian tour company, this short hack was both a way for us to get comfortable with a different way of riding and an opportunity for our guides to evaluate our riding experience and comfort level on unfamiliar horses over varied terrain.

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Horse illustrated November 2019, The Fall Wellness issue, ICELAND Adventure, TOP 9 Countdown to Winter Health, BLANKET fit problems solved, And More....