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Day 4 in Iceland

Horses and Whales


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Day 4 October 16

Today we go horseback riding.

We were at the riding center at 9:15 for our 10:00am ride. There is a video showing you how to get on and off the horse as well as how to guide it. Then they take you to get a helmet, any rain gear you might need, and your horse. Many of the people hadn't ridden before. They ask you how well you can ride and give you a horse that suits what you say your skill is. My horse's name was Ishak. He was a bit bigger than some of the horses and liked to push the horse in front, or be in front. I had to get them to shorten my stirrups as I lost my footing on the right side when we started to trot. Not fun!

After about 15 minutes slow riding with a bit of a trot, we were separated into a fast and a slow group. I went with the fast and we learned how to "tolt", a gait that only Icelandic horses have. They can do it because their shoulders are shaped a bit different than other horses. In order to tolt you have to pull the horse's head up quite high. Their trot then becomes a tolt. Oh, so much better! It is so smooth! No bouncing around. When I commented to our guide,she said yes, especially on Ishak, you notice the difference. He has a longer, rougher gait than some of the horses because of his longer stride.

Icelandic horses come in every color except apaloosa. The Vikings took horses from wherever they raided. They brought horses that had good dispositions,were hardy, and had a good gait. The Vikings liked riding their horses. Horses are not allowed to come into the country, not even an Icelandic horse that has been out of the country. Their horses have been isolated so long, and sick horses died the first winter when they arrived, so they do not have any of the diseases that afflict horses elsewhere. They do not even want you to use riding gear from out of the country.

The fast group had a short stop where we adjusted the saddle. The tolting gait tends to move the saddle forward on the horse which makes it uncomfortable, not painful, just uncomfortable. Our guide pointed out the old lava and the newer. You can only tell by how much lichen has grown in them.

When settlers came from Norway and Denmark they planted lupins to enhance the soil, not realizing how much they would spread. Now the hills around the horse center are covered in lupins.

The Vikings cut down ALL the trees, so some spruce, birch and pine from Scandinavia have been planted. I saw some that looked like blue spruce as well as regular. The only trees the Vikings didn't cut, were the willows, because they were too small. The joke in Iceland is, If you ever get lost in the wilderness in Iceland, just stand up and you will see where you are.

After our ride, once again, no rain, we went to the Whale Museum in Reykjavik. They have life size models of many of the whales, hung in the air. The walls are painted blue so you feel like they are swimming around you.

The people there so helpful and informative. Apparently they hunt mostly the Minke whale and there is a quota. Only one company really hunts them. The owner of that company also owns the company in Japan that buys the meat. The rumor on the street is that the Japanese don't eat whale meat either and it is made into pet food. No one knows for sure because there is a lot of secrecy and they don't have to disclose what they do with it.

After the whale museum we went to Perlan, a glass domed building on top of a hill. On a nice day you can get a great 360 view of Reykjavik. We didn't. However they did have nice souvenirs. We decided to eat there. They had a spelt bread sandwhich, there wasn't much ham or cheese, but the spelt bun was delicious.

Tonight Lana came out of the bedroom laughing. She showed me that the "extra padding on the bed" was actually our individual quilts. Lana had taken a double quilt from the bathroom cupboard, and I had been using the bedspread. We had a good laugh about that.

Posted by CheryleB 23:14 Archived in Iceland

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