The Icelandic horse, or Icelandic pony, is known for its smooth riding qualities.Explore Iceland with its glaciers, volcanos, waterfalls, hot springs and geysers.A great riding holiday.

Up Kolbiensdalur and over TrolskagiKolbeinsdlr
A ride with two Icelandic friends, Ingulfur of the farm Dyrfinnstadir, in Skagafjordur; and Jon Petur of the farm Stadurtunga near Akureyri

Lunch

Summit of Trolskagi

River on Trolskagi

Trolskagi summit

Hazy sunlight washed the valley and our herd of remounts in the near field; the cabin at Fjell was in dappled sunshine when we started up the valley; and at the valley's end, after lunch, and choosing fresh horses for the ascent, we leave the stone corral and start up the side valley out of Kolbiensdalur.

Showers take over from the sunshine and the scudding cloud shadows. In an hour the rain stops and we're climbing into a world of fog and snowdrifts. The ancient trail is easy to follow - horses and riders have ridden this track for centuries. It once had a telegraph line running parallel to it and a few derelict poles sit incongruously in a river's pool below the trail. (This is a land of few and small trees, lumber is a rare commodity.)

We get off the track several times to skirt the 8 foot vertical walls of snowdrifts crossing the trail. It's early July. For months the snow has been settling and crusting over - from the sun (what little there is of it up here in the clouds), and the wind (none today).

The snow surface is hard enough to carry a horse and rider; only rarely does a horse's leg punch through. No one is jostled enough to come off their horse.
Our remounts, driven behind us as a herd of loose horses don't fare quite as well. Two mares break through a snow-bridge over a river. One travels a few yards down the river, under the snow, shakes herself off and wanders back casually to the herd. We chip out a ramp in the hard snow for the other.

Twice now I've ridden across these snowfields and across this glacier's tongue, here in northern Iceland. If I ever ride here again and into this world of lightly shifting fog and glaring snow, of dark rocks and black shadows, I'll try to watch more closely. I'll be more open to my observations. Somewhere between my beliefs in Mickey Mouse and The Brotherhood of Mankind I think I'll make room for a belief in Trolls.

One day later we're riding to the south, up a valley from the northern sea. Sunshine again, blue water running into riffs and rapids, lush green grass. A gentle climb and a long slow descent. Seven riders nap in the sunshine each time we stop to rest the horses.We left our friend Ingulfur's farm in Skagafjordur a few days ago and in a few hours we'll arrive at Jon Petur's farm in Eyjafjordur. I've crossed the Troll's Peninsular, ridden good horses, great horses (and one recalcitrant white beast I was given "because he's smart and strong". He proved these points by using his intelligence to keep us out of trouble and his strength to make sure that we did everything exactly his way.) My last horse for the dash for the homefarm is a big beautifully speckled brown and black gelding who reads my mind and does exactly as I am thinking, only he does it a little bit faster than I can think it.

A typical ride?

No, I think in Iceland there aren't any.

Geography

Kolbiensdalur means the dale of Kolbien, And Trolskagi refers to a region that has been ceded to the Trolls.

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