Icelandic Inn-to-Inn Ride, Day One

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Darley Newman
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We were troopers today, riding on our first day of the inn-to-inn ride in buckets of rain. I rode Kristall, a well trained and super fun Icelandic. We had a lot of fun, even in the rain.

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The Icelandic Horse Farm is located in Fayston, Vermont, in the Mad River Valley. It is near the small town of Waitsfield. With around 34 horses, the owner, Karen has her hands full. The farrier was there this morning and comes quite frequently. We watched her work at impressive speeds as the cute Icelandics were brought in one after the other from the rain for new shoes.

There are seven other riders on my inn to inn ride today. We watched a short video on Icelandics and their specials gaits, the tolt and pace, for part of our orientation. I had ridden Icelandics before in Iceland and was looking forward to attempting the tolt and pace right here in the U.S.A.

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Karen talked to each of us about our riding experience and matched us up with the appropriate mounts. We will switch during the ride and also be allowed to help tack up our horses and care for them during our vacation.

We were filming this morning's ride, which is a little tricky in the rain. Doug rode in the back of our Jeep, shooting out of open window, while Chip drove. Our group donned rain gear, which wouldn't be able to keep us dry during today's torrential downpour.

As we took off into a trot, I knew that I would need another lesson in cueing the tolt and pace, something that I wanted to experience. I split off from the group at one point to do a little filming and did some cantering on Kristall. I think that I was tolting at one point, because it was fast and smooth, but I'll have to look back at the video to check and see or ask tomorrow.

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It's a good thing that Icelandic horses have been bred to withstand extreme weather. Though I was soaked to my underwear, Kristall was probably just fine. The rain careened off his bushy mane and onto the muddy road, as we passed gorgeous green mountains on country roads.

I thought that I may feel awkward on an Icelandic, as I am tall and the Icelandic horses are smaller than what I am used to riding. Icelandics are so strong and sturdy though, I didn't feel awkward at all. I felt great, as I sped up for another canter on Kristall.

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I was looking forward to a hopefully sunny day for the next ride and learning more about the Icelandic horses' special gaits.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations in Vermont and around the world at EquitrekkingTravel.com.