Travel Articles

Iceland- Learning to Ride an Icelandic Horse

To start my Iceland riding adventure, I first wanted a lesson in how exactly to get these furry Icelandic horses to tölt. Our crew headed to Ishestar, a riding ceter and tour operator right outside of Reykjavik.

Ishestar has been operating for about 25 years, leading riders through the lava fields, countryside and to traditional farms in Iceland. My instructor Einar had a fun time watching me break to a trot during our learning session. I rode a horse who name means Black Beauty in English, who was a good tolter, but whose trot was insanely jarring. It was all the more reason to stay in the tolt.

The tolt, a four beat gait, similar to the running walk, is a smooth gait. It has helped the Iclandic people get around their rough, terrain for centuries. Icelandic horses, in addition to the walk, trot and canter, may also tölt and pace. I wasn’t getting to the pace right away, as it is very fast, but was happy to learn the tölt for my riding adventures.

After a few spins in the ring, Einar took me out for a ride through lava fields and by a nearby lake, where there was an area of trees. This is unusual in Iceland.

I was doing pretty well in the tölt out on the trails and really enjoying it. The Icelandic horses are strong and seemingly unafraid of the gusty wind and wild terrain in Iceland. Not bad qualities for riders who are looking to explore the wilds of Iceland.

Learn more about equestrian vacations in Iceland.

Darley Newman is an equestrian travel expert and the host of the Public Television series Equitrekking®, which takes viewers on horseback riding vacations around the world. Visit and purchase Equitrekking DVDs, the Equitrekking Travel Adventures on Horseback book and more at