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Right out of the gate, my afternoon with Reykjavik, Iceland-based Viking Horses was filled with incredible first-time experiences. The Icelandic horse is the only breed in the world with five distinct gaits, and within the first 15 minutes of my tour, I was riding the single-foot tolt.
“The Icelandic horse’s tolt — which can be performed as a fast walk or trot up to a canter — is an extremely smooth, comfortable gait,” says Viggo Sigurdsson, co-owner of Viking Horses. “You could hold a glass of milk while riding the tolt, and it wouldn’t spill.”
The horseback-riding company specializes in small-group tours of volcanic pseudocraters and other rugged landscapes on the outskirts of Reykjavik. Sigurdsson’s team can also create lavish customized tours that include everything from advanced riding techniques to a helicopter ride over Bardarbunga Volcano.
For our excursion, Sigurdsson was able to gain exclusive access to a private black-sand beach along Iceland’s south shore. We had miles of volcanic coastline all to ourselves, and in no time, Sigurdsson had me trying two more new experiences: galloping on a horse and riding through crashing waves.
After about an hour of riding, we turned a corner to find a gorgeous picnic and the rest of the Viking Horses team ready to receive us. While we were riding, they had prepared a parsnip and coriander soup and set up a bountiful spread of cheese, cold cuts, bread and fruit.
“We’re very passionate about what we do, and every tour is unique,” Sigurdsson says. “We keep it spontaneous, and the [experience] is much more natural for the horses and for our guests.”