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Icelandic Horse Round Up

Overview

When you participate in the round ups you are experiencing the real thing. You will be one of the group who will herd and sort the animals. It means spending long hours in the saddle in possibly very cold weather. Autumn in Iceland is colourful and with changeable weather. Sunshine one minute and c…

Highlights

  • Ride with hundreds of free-running horses and foals
  • Help farmers to sort the horses and return them home
  • Experience the stark beauty of northern Iceland
  • Enjoy challenging riding across varied terrain
  • Join the locals in their celebratory round-up dance

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 12 riders per group
  • Average of 5 - 7 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 110 kg / 242 lbs / 17 stone 3 lbs

Description

When you participate in the round ups you are experiencing the real thing. You will be one of the group who will herd and sort the animals. It means spending long hours in the saddle in possibly very cold weather. Autumn in Iceland is colourful and with changeable weather. Sunshine one minute and changing to rain and possibly sleet within a short space of time. You will need to dress well and warmly possibly with a pocket full of chocolate!

You have to imagine hundreds of free and spirited horses cantering down from their highland summer pastures to be reclaimed by their owners. Mares and their foals, young horses and geldings traverse the rough terrain, not yet quite willing to surrender their freedom before the onset of winter. The ancient tradition of rounding up horses is only kept alive in the North of Iceland.

When this task is complete the locals celebrate with a special round-up dance or “réttardansleikur”. You will, of course, be more than welcome to join in the fun. The round-up continues the next day when the horses get sorted at the corral and you will help in returning some of them to their home meadows.

Haukur Suska lives in Hvammur Farm in Vatnsdalur in North Iceland. Haukur operates several tours and offers accommodation for the Kjölur tour as well. Haukur has four children and many many horses. His wonderful family help him operate the tour and take care of the guests. Haukur is always cheerful and he loves spending time with the guests and you may find he will take out his guitar to start playing and singing. Haukur offers two dates for horse round ups in September and they are both very exciting!

Horses & Riding

Tack

The tack used for Icelandic horses is slightly different than the tack ordinarily used for other breeds.The saddle is similar to a dressage saddle and has a relatively flat seat. Saddles come with plain or quilted seats. On longer rides a crupper helps keeping the saddle in place. Riding style used on Icelandic horses is close to English riding style, but stirrups are worn long.

Bits used are mostly simple snaffles. Bridles have a detachable noseband and clip on reins.

Horses

Icelandic

Riding

There are 2 itineraries:

  • Horse Round Up in Skrapatungurétt is a based ride
  • Horse Round Up in Víðidalstungurétt is a based ride

Ages

12 years and over

Health

Fit and Healthy

Weight

110 kg / 242 lbs / 17 stone 3 lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

During the ride full board is provided. The usual menu consists of a large breakfast and traditional Icelandic meals (fish or lamb). Vegetarian meals are available if requested when booking. All riders make their own packed lunch from the breakfast table.

Alcoholic beverages are not included in the tour price and are hard to get in the highlands. They can be bought at a reasonable price in the Duty-Free Store at Keflavik Airport upon arrival.

Accommodation

Hvammur farm is situated in the beautiful Vatnsdalur Valley which is the setting of many of the old Sagas that have been told of through the ages. It has the famous salmon fishing river Vatnsdalsá running down the middle. The farmhouse was renovated 4 years ago and has a hot tub in the garden with a view over the river.

There are six rooms with 2-4 beds in each room, altogether offering accommodation to a maximum of nineteen. The beds are made up and ready to offer you a good night's sleep. There is an outdoor jacuzzi. Two showers and two toilets. There is GSM connection and wifi

Itineraries

Horse Round Up in Skrapatungurétt Basic accommodation.

Horse Round Up in Víðidalstungurétt Basic accommodation.

Other Activities

This ride is not suitable for non-riders.

Travel

Guests should fly to Reykjavik for these tours. Transfers from and to Reykjavik city bus terminals are included, but you will need to leave the city early in the morning (usually between 07:30 - 08:30 am). For this reason, we recommend that guests plan to arrive in Iceland at least the night before their trail in order to meet the transfer to the farm in the north of the country.

International flights to Iceland will land at Keflavik international airport (roughly 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik city). There is a regular bus service between the airport and the city centre.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Reykjavík - Hvammur - Vatnsdalur - Stóra-Giljá

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

You will be collected from pick up points (www.busstop.is) in Reykjavik between 07:30 and 08:30 in the morning. Please be ready at the earliest pick up time and be ready in your riding clothes. Transfer by bus to Hvammur Farm, where you will meet your  horses and guides. On your way to the north you will visit a factory outlet for woollen goods.

The ride starts in Vatnsdalur valley. This beautiful valley is the setting of the Vatnsdæla-Saga. You will ride on the eastern side of Vatnsdalur valley, past Hvammsfoss waterfall, surrounded by impressive basalt columns. The horses rest close to Stóra-Giljá Farm and you will return to Hvammur Farm, home of your host Haukur, for the overnight stay. (Approx. 20 km)

Day 2 - Stóra-Giljá - Björnsólfsstaðir - Hvammur

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

After rejoining the horses, set out riding along the shore of Lake Húnavatn, and follow the salmon fishing river Laxá á Ásum and continue to Blönduós village. Here you cross the glacier fed river Blanda by a bridge and continue to Björnsólfsstaðir Farm in Langadalur valley. This farm belongs to Haukur’s grandfather who is known for his storytelling and warm personality. Overnight stay at Hvammur Farm. (Approx. 30 km)

Day 3 - Gathering horses in Laxárdalur - Skrapatungurétt

Riding: 6 - 9 hours

Meet up with the horses again at the Farm Strugsstaõir. Today you will meet the farmers coming down from the mountains where they have already spent some time gathering the horses in their summer pastures. Hundreds of horses are coming down from the highlands and you participate in herding them to the roundup place Skrapatungurétt. You may join in the singing of the farmers, celebrating this great event of the fall during this long riding day. (Approx. 45 km)

Optional (not included in the tour price):
“Stóðréttardansleikur” dance at Blönduós, where everybody celebrates yet another successful roundup.

Day 4 - Sorting of the horses and driving the herds to their home pastures

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Your day starts at the roundup place Skrapatungurétt where horses are sorted out. Experience the excitement and view beautiful horses while joining in this great event. When the horses are sorted you can participate in returning some of them to their meadows at their home farms. Dinner at Hvammur Farm and time to share your personal experience on this riding adventure with our fellow riders. (Approx. 25 km)

Day 5 - Hvammur - Reykjavik

Riding: No riding.

Departure from the North and return to your accommodation in Reykjavík. Approximate arrival will be at 13:00.

NB. The itinerary may change according to local conditions.

Accommodation

Farmhouse accommodation, featuring shared rooms with 2-4 beds in each.

Experience Experienced

For this trip you need to be a strong intermediate rider who rides regularly and is capable of handling horses in an open country. You must not be afraid of riding up and downhill at speed and over rough terrain.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 12
Departure windows

Sept. 16, 2021 - Sept. 20, 2021

Sept. 15, 2022 - Sept. 19, 2022

Pricing

2021/2022
Sharing
£1525 $2120 €1790
Included 4 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from lunch on arrival day until breakfast on departure day, soft drinks with meals, 4 days of riding, return transfers from Reykjavik bus terminal.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, alcoholic drinks, tips & other personal expenses.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1 - Reykjavík - Hvammur - Sveinsstaðir - Hvammur Farm

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

You will be collected from pick up points (www.busstop.is) in Reykjavik between 07:30 and 08:30 in the morning. Please be ready at the earliest pick up time and be ready in your riding clothes.

Transfer by bus from Reykjavík to Hvammur Farm, where you will meet horses and guides. You can visit a factory outlet with woollen goods on the way. You will begin the ride through Vatnsdalur valley - this beautiful valley is the setting of the Vatnsdæla-Saga. Ride along the banks of River Vatnsdalsá before crossing over to the western side of the valley. The  ride ends at Sveinsstaðir Farm and you will return to Hvammur Farm for your overnight stay. (25 km)

Day 2 - Sveinsstaðir - Dæli - Hvammur

Riding: 6 - 8 hours

This long and exciting riding day takes you alongside the Hóp and across the Gljúfurá River. Through the friendly countryside of Vestur-Hóp and into the beautiful valley Víðidalur. You will follow the  Víðidalsá River to Dæli Farm where you will leave the horses. You will return to Hvammur farm for your overnight stay. The outdoor hot tub is waiting, as well as a hearty dinner. (40 km)

Day 3 - Dæli - Kolugil - Víðidalstungheiði - Hvammur

Riding: 7 - 9 hours

Today you ascend towards the highland plateau Víðidalstunguheiði and meet the horses coming down from their pastures in the highlands. You will enjoy a warming lunch at a mountain shelter before joining the farmers in driving the herd down from the mountains. Before ending the ride at Dæli Farm you stop at Kolugili Farm for refreshments. (32 km)

Day 4 - Víðidalstungurétt - Lake Hóp - Hvammur

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

The day starts at the roundup place Víðidalstungurétt, where horses are sorted out. An auction is held right on the spot and you can join the farmers in their joyful singing, celebrating the return of their horses. In the afternoon you join up with the horses close to Borgarvirki and ride towards Lake Hóp. Feel the excitement of the horses as they reach the open plain. The trail leads  right across Lake Hóp, Iceland’s fifth biggest lake, on a safe track across the water. You will ride past Thingeyrar, a place of great historic importance and into Vatnsdalur valley. It is time to say goodbye to the horses and we return to Hvammur. (30 km)

Optional (not included in the tour price):

“Stóðréttardansleikur” dance at Víðihlíð, where everybody relaxes after the excitement of the day and celebrates yet another successful roundup.

Day 5 - Hvammur - Reykjavik

Riding: No riding.

Departure from the North and return to Reykjavík. The approximate arrival at the hotel will be around 14:00.

NB. The itinerary may change due to local circumstances

Accommodation

Farmhouse accommodation, featuring shared rooms with 2-4 beds in each.

Experience Experienced

For this trip you need to be a strong intermediate rider who rides regularly and is capable of handling horses in an open country. You must not be afraid of riding up and downhill at speed and over rough terrain.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 12
Departure windows

Sept. 29, 2021 - Oct. 3, 2021

Sept. 28, 2022 - Oct. 2, 2022

Pricing

2021/2022
Sharing
£1455 $2025 €1710
Included 4 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from lunch on arrival day until breakfast on departure day, soft drinks with meals, 4 days of riding, return transfers from Reykjavik bus terminal.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, alcoholic drinks, tips & other personal expenses.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.