Icelandic Inn-to-Inn Ride, Day Two

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Darley Newman
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Thank goodness we had a beautiful day of sunshine today. I spent the day riding with the same group plus a few other riders who joined us in the morning and afternoon on the Vermont Icelandic Inn Ride. I am now writing at the Mad River Inn, the inn owned by Karen Winhold, who runs the Icelandic Horse Farm. We just finished a really good and much-needed dinner of Caesar salad, grilled salmon, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, Portobello mushrooms, rice and cheese cake topped with raspberries. Very good fuel after a day of riding and in preparation for the next day.

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I was paired up with Bylur today. Bylur is a 14-year-old dark brown Icelandic whose name means "wind gust." Bylur was a little more eager to lead the pack than Kristall, my mount the other day, but just as much fun. We tolted and cantered along country roads and into lush forests along wooded trails.

The ride today involved a lot of up and down hills. We are in the mountains after all. It also involved a few meadows, filled with wildflowers and with great mountain views. A few times when I wanted Bylur to tolt he trotted instead, which may make for a more tender bum tomorrow, but other than that, he was great.

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We started out with a three hour ride that began on country roads and then went through mountain trails covered in bright green ferns. It was a pretty social ride, and I got to know a few of the other riders a little better, as well as our ride leader Jane. Jane has a dressage background, which was evident from her superb posture. She also loves Icelandics for their gaits and what she called their outlook on life. She described them as "fun-loving and want to go but in a good way."

I understood her feelings, as we tolted and cantered a bit and then walked up and down for the first leg of our journey. We stopped in a gorgeous field of tall grass and wildflowers to stretch our legs and take in the views.

We are riding on Icelandic saddles, which are very comfort- able. They are meant to keep you comfortable for long periods of time in the saddle, such as an inn-to-inn trek.

One member of our group had only been out of the dressage ring a couple of times, but had no problems on the trail. A mother and daughter pair, who own several horses, were totally comfortable as well. We all wanted to go faster and faster and see how quick these little horses really could be. With a big group of varying levels though, the canter was the fastest that we would travel, which was still fun. I am ready to try the pace and attempt the flying pace at some point though.

Back at the farm, we had an outside lunch before our afternoon ride, which was shorter. I have really enjoyed experiencing Icelandic horses. They are so much fun to ride and not intimidating. There is no posting the trot if your horse can tolt, which is great for long distances in the saddle. I can see why beginning riders would want to ride Icelandics and why more experienced riders would as well.

During lunch, I interviewed Karen, the farm owner. There are currently 34 Icelandics on the farm, and though the horses are known as being pretty easy to take care of, I can't imagine that having 34 around is a breeze. Karen has a helper, her adorable daughter and her friendly mother, as well as a larger staff of ladies who keep the barn running.

I am much more tired than I thought I would be and am looking forward to a good night's sleep before a hearty New England breakfast and a new day of adventures.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations at EquitrekkingTravel.com.