For centuries, the plains and mountains of Iceland have served as a major breeding centre for one of the world's most unique animals, the Icelandic Horse.
Viking settlers originally brought the Icelandic Horse to the country in the 9th century and as it has been in complete and protected isolation ever since, the species has remained pure.
Sturdy but gentle, small yet surprisingly strong, these animals served as Iceland's sole means of land transport until the advent of motorised vehicles seventy or so years ago. Workhorse, packhorse, laborer, food source and equine jack-of-all trades, this friendly animal is today prized for its temperament, riding qualities and five gaits; the walk, trot, gallop, skeið (pace) and tölt (running walk).
For riders, the options on offer are as flexible as the animals themselves, ranging from an introductory trot lasting an hour or two, to trans-Iceland safaris taking two weeks or more.
Horse shows are frequent events in Iceland, especially in the Northwest region. Riding lessons for interested beginners are offered at a number of farms.
See the list of Riding Centres all around Iceland here.