Written by the Warrior
North Iceland holds a special place in my heart.
Its sunny weather, lush rolling hills, snow capped peaks and bohemian ways is sure to strike a cord with anyone. For me, it’s because this is horse country at its finest.
I come from a family where for generations, horses were an integral part of our lives. So you can say that, the love of horses, is in my blood.
While horses are not native to Iceland, over the past centuries, they have developed their own special breed. The Icelandic horses are one of the most gentle and smooth breed I have ever encountered.
In North Iceland, we stayed at Skjaldarvik Guesthouse near the town of Akureyri.
From our experience, Iceland does not have massive franchise hotels. Rather, they have guest houses, which are similar to our B&Bs, but usually without the breakfast “B”. However, in Skjaldarvik, an amazing breakfast is included every morning…
Served in a beautiful dining room.
Even the decorations are creative, thoughtful and functional!
I thank my lucky stars that by some stroke of luck, I managed to book us into this guest house. Because, not only does it provide an awesome breakfast, superbly comfortable accommodation, incredible helpful staff, children’s indoor and outdoor play areas, a geothermal hot tub, a restaurant that serves delicious dinners, check this out…
(Lamb done to perfection and the best damn baked potatoes I have ever had!)
The best part about Skjaldarvik is that they have horses and they offer trail riding.
My ride along the magnificent banks of Eyjafjörður, under distant snow capped peaks has become one of my favorite experiences in Iceland.
As a parent, I must admit, I suck royally at most things that parents are expected to do well, such as teaching my kids important lessons in life and setting good examples. The one thing that I do semi-well, is exposing them to different experiences to widen their horizons.
But one can only “bring the horse to water”, so to say, and as the Dragon would say “everybody is different”, there is no way for me to tell whether the Dragon and the Tiger Princess would take to anything until they try it.
So, when in North Iceland, you might as well do what North Icelanders do… go riding.
There were actually very few horse farms that offer programs for young children, most farms have a minimum age requirement of about 10 to 12 years old. My understanding is that the younger the kids, the lower the instructor to child ratio – which makes perfect sense.
Fortunately, Gauksmyri Lodge (which was the perfect pit stop for us between the towns of Holmavik and Akureyri) offered a children’s 45 minute program. Here the Dragon and the Tiger Princess were each led by an instructor.
It was the most perfect and gentle introduction to horses and horseback riding for them.
They loved the experience so much that they asked to ride again.
Luckily, Skjaldarvik also had a special daily 45 minute riding program at 8:30am for young kids. I signed the Dragon and the Tiger Princess up for two lessons during our stay at the guest house.
During the first lesson, the Dragon and the Tiger Princess were taught how to care for the horses, how to saddle their horses and how to communicate with their horses. They got to ride a little bit with each of their horses led by an instructor.
I could not believe how comfortable they were on horse back, and how by the second lesson, they were already riding and trotting independently.
Maybe it was the fact that Icelandic horses are of a gentle and steady nature, maybe it was the perfect combination of instructions that they received at the two horse farms, or maybe, just maybe, the love of horses, is in their blood too.