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That Time I Lost My Mind Over Icelandic Horses

I lost my damn mind in Iceland. Not only was the scenery like landing on another planet, everything tasted new, people were striking and Reykjavik presented itself at a city of the future.

Heading to south Iceland

The southern part of Route 1, even in the winter, is especially incredible. Head from the capital city to the town of Vik, which takes a couple hours. However, you’re going to want to leave a lot more time than that, because there’s countless things to see along the main drag. Much of it can’t be missed from the road.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in iceland

The rolling mountains and icy tundra landscapes frame the road with tons of twists and turns. There’s the Seljalandsfoss waterfall to drive by, but make sure you stop and hear the roar of the water up close. If it’s warmer or drier, you can actually hike behind the falls too. On the other side by the coast is the Sólheimasandur wreckage, but you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle to get out on the sand.

Now there’s plenty of spots to stop and find Icelandic horses, but we saw an opportunity on this route. Just after the Eyjafjallajökull volcano was 10-20 horses huddled in the tundra about 100 feet from the fence. This was it.

herd of icelandic horses in iceland

A close encounter

I had spent a gross amount of money at the last gas station for horse-friendly snacks, like apples. We peeled over to the side of the road and I couldn’t figure out why my car door wouldn’t open. Then I remembered: the rental guy warned me about this.

Sometimes it was so windy, it’s difficult to get the car open. Not to mention, you need to be careful letting it go, as they can get cleaned ripped off the hinges.

icelandic horses with mountains and car in background

The wind almost knocked me over. And over and over. I didn’t have proper shoes at the time, so I’m caked in mud with no chance to recovery.

Don’t care. There’s shaggy, adorable horses in front of me and are trotting over to say hello!

About a half dozen gathered at the barbed wire fence to check out the commotion of my clicking and squealing. I bit off a piece of apple in hopes they’d let me pet those beautiful manes, but no one wanted any part of it and the horses started to leave.

pretty iceland horses on a windy day

I quickly waded through mud back to the car, grabbed a bag of mustard chips and set off again. This time, the horses munched away gleefully and were then patient enough to let me love all over them. X stood there, bewildered at the tears in my eyes and I was SO HAPPY and yelling and scratching their ears I couldn’t handle it.

Hold your horses

The breed is known to be extra friendly and have a pleasant temperament. They’re used for all sorts of roles, from agricultural labor to, well, consumption.

feeding two horses in iceland

Next time I find myself in Iceland I’d love to visit a farm officially or try some horseback riding in the rugged rural parts of the country. But this was just enough of an animal encounter to hold me over until the next trip.

EileenCotterWright

Author EileenCotterWright

Eileen Cotter Wright is a Boston, MA expat living in London, UK. She is a freelance writer and owner of group travel site PureWander.com. Despite losing her passport the first day she left her home country, she's continued to roam the earth with gusto for about a decade. You can keep up with her hot mess adventures on Twitter @Crooked_Flight.

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