Friday, July 20, 2012

Midnight Equestrian

 When I wrote in my last post about trying to keep busy and involve myself in every Icelandic cultural opportunity while I can, I hadn't quite realized this would entail learning to horseback ride with my landlady, Steingerthor, around midnight one night in Thingvellir National Park. 

On her invitation, I rode out of town with her partner, Trygvvi, who I learned is also the grandson of a former Icelandic Prime Minister. I quizzed him about Icelandic names as we drove through a light rain to a rented summer house full of old furniture and bright red Coca Cola glasses (it turned out the house originally belonged to the head of Coca Cola in Iceland). We came back from riding at 2am, cold and muddy, to a late (or very early?) supper, glasses of wine, and rousing choruses of Icelandic national songs.

Icelandic horses are much smaller than other horses I've seen (though apparently it is an insult to call them ponies). They're also known to have two additional gaits; most horses only walk, trot and canter, but Icelandic horses "tölt" and also have a "flying pace". I'm not a rider, by any means, and these horses were a bit intimidating because most of the time, they just live on their own in the wild. Steingerthor walked me through some instructions and let me ride around a fenced-in area so the horse wouldn't take off running too fast. I don't think I was quite ready for whatever the "flying pace" would have entailed, but I did build myself up into going into a "tölt."  

These photos aren't the best. My camera didn't seem to love the midnight/twilight lighting, but they do show a journey. 

Many times this year, I just have to stop and think, How in the world did I end up here? 

A thought that is quickly followed by, I am so glad I did.  

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