Iceland: Part 1

I’ve finally returned from Iceland and while the weather was not highly cooperative, the country’s famous scenery made it possible to capture images at most of the spots we visited.  Probably the most agreeable conditions occurred at an unplanned stop on the morning we departed Reykjavik. About two hours northwest of the capital, we spotted a sunlit pasture with about a dozen of Iceland’s famous horses.

Iceland 01

According to the Lonely Planet Guide and other sources, all horses in Iceland can be traced back to the animals imported by the Vikings.  The small breed is hardy and long-lived, well-conditioned for the country’s harsh conditions and still plays an important role in Icelandic life. Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return.  They have five gaits, including the unusual töit, a running walk so smooth that riders can drink a glass of beer without spilling a drop. In addition to performance competitions, horse racing is a popular sport and the animal is also used for traditional sheepherding.  Some are raised for slaughter and much of the meat is exported to Japan.

Based on our brief experience interacting with the herd we encountered, the Icelandic horse is social, curious, and seems to enjoy having its nose petted.

Iceland 02

Shortly after we resumed our drive, the weather took a turn for the worse.

To be continued…..

34 thoughts on “Iceland: Part 1

    • Thanks! Actually, this was much harder than Antarctica. While the temperature was colder in Antarctica, the weather was far more cooperative there. The Iceland wind can be really strong when it gets going. Much of the time in Antarctica we were in narrow channels and protected bays so the wind was less of a problem.

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  1. Both are great photos but that first one is STUNNING! The clouds, green grass, beautiful horses and the lighting was perfect. Looking forward to seeing more of Iceland. It’s been on my list to visit since I saw a 60 minutes segment on it when I was in high school ~ way too long…

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    • Thanks very much for the kind words. If you want to go, I’d suggest sooner rather than later. The number of tourists is rapidly growing, especially photography enthusiasts, so the wildness of the scenery and weather is likely to be undercut by throngs of visitors in the coming years. It’s easy to get around, the facilities are excellent, and the food is great although prices are high. Check the weather patterns for the best time to go. We experienced 10 days of mostly cloudy and rain when we were there in early to mid September.

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  2. these horses are STUNNING and I love the photo of them running. Made my day!

    Arva Suzanne Graham Gibson home- 703-759-7116 mobile- 703-629-7116 suzannegibson@ me.com

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  3. Oh, Robin, thanks for the education on these remarkable horses! To think some are slaughtered for the meat makes me so sad (I’m beginning to feel that way for all animals slaughtered for our consumption – but that’s an opinion best left for another forum). Beautiful photos, and I am head-over-heels for the second one!

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    • Hi, Stacy: Thanks for the comments. Yes, it is sad, but I choose to believe that this group had a better fate in store. They certainly had a pleasant situation at the time. A huge pasture to frolic in and occasional visitors who stop by and pat their noses.

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