Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Iceland! Part 5: Horseback Riding and... Well, That Should Pretty Much Say It All

And so, my friends, we come to our final full day in Iceland. Read: the BEST day of our trip!

We had the grand idea of signing up for a horseback riding tour through the lava fields of Iceland which, again, sounds like all kinds of nature and outdoorsy goodness that my sister and I don't exactly exemplify.

Ah well. When in Rome and all that.

I have to say, when we first signed up for this tour, I was a tad terrified. I've only ridden a horse once in my lifetime and that was in fifth grade in India and... well, okay, so I fell off the horse.

DON'T LAUGH! It was terrifying!

Sigh. I don't know why I bother telling you half the things I do. Anyway, as soon as we arrived, we were instructed to watch a brief introductory video about "bonding" with your horse for a few minutes before hopping right on that saddle. I distinctly remember that intro video closing with "Now, don't be scared- there's nothing to be scared about. Some people may require a little work to get close with their horses, while for others, it may just be love at first sight."

I was opting for the latter, really. But please. Me and animals? We don't exactly have the best track record. So I can safely assure you that I was not holding out ALL that much hope for that latter option.

So we get all decked out in quite possibly the most unflattering attire EVER... but since we are clearly the epitome of rugged and outdoorsy, why should we care, right? HA. Let's just say you will NOT be seeing any pictures of my sister in this post, per her deliberate request.

Anyway, off we went to that corral to get assigned our horses (based on experience level).

And here, my friends, is where I was introduced to my pal Pila. If this doesn't scream love at first sight, I just know what does.

Sigh. Can she LOOK any more annoyed with me? I guess it doesn't help that those instructors explicitly mentioned never to let go of the reins when we are standing by our horses but... well, minor details. I had some blog pictures to take! Shortly after this shot, you better believe I dropped those reins to snap a few shots from different angles. But none really captured the essence of Pila's emotion as much as this one does.

Anyway, it was then time to, well, actually MOUNT the horse. Umm. Let's just say there will be absolutely NO photographic documentation of this spectacle. I can safely say it was pretty much one of the more graceless moments of my life. But at the end of the day...

I mounted my horse! Yess!! (See what I mean about that attire? Heavens.)

And!! Since Icelandic horses are notoriously shorter than most other horses around the world, it wasn't even all too terrifying! Given my overwhelming fear of heights, trust me, this was more than a major area of concern for me. Second only to my fear of getting thrown off my horse... yes, again. Lightning can strike twice and all that.

So! Step one- done. But obviously, mounting the horse was just the beginning. Then we actually had to start RIDING these suckers. I wish I had something more humorous to share (I mean, how can stories about me riding a horse NOT have some sort of ridiculous story involved?), but you know what?? It actually turned out to be QUITE FUN! I got the hang of the easy pace pretty quickly... so much so, that confidence overcame me and I even took one hand off my rein to... well, snap some blog pictures.

Sigh. It really does all come back to the blog, doesn't it? But it was totally worth it! We were riding through some lava fields and, man, does horseback riding really let you see a whole new WORLD outside the standard roadside tours or WHAT?!

Since my sister and I had been separated for the majority of this tour (clearly, our horses were the masters and we were the followers, no matter WHAT that intro video told us), I ended up befriending the little girl who happened to be riding in front of me and the tour guide leading the way. I love this picture of them! Totally captures the moment, if you will.

At the end of it all, my sister and I firmly agreed that this tour was our absolute FAVORITE part of our trip to Iceland. It was such a great experience for novice horseback riders AND we got to see some SERIOUS hidden Icelandic beauty.

What ever happened to dear Pila's and my relationship? Well, even after a solid couple of hours together, I can safely say that I don't think Pila and I will be missing each other all too much. That look she had at the start? Yeah, pretty much the same look she had at the end... if not even MORE downtrodden! Geez, girl, what did I DO to you?!

Sigh. So much for love at first sight.

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