Thursday August 23, 2001


Today  was our last full day at the farm, and scheduled to be our "all day ride", with a picnic stop at a waterfall,  but Gisle looked us up and down and wisely suggested a shorter round trip to a swimming pool (geo-thermally heated of course). This turned out to be plenty of riding for everyone since we spent 2 hours on the way out and about 1.5 hours returning with a little more "speed".  Riding over open fields provides for an intimate connection with the geology of Iceland. The fields of tufty green grasses disguise a rugged irregular terrain, composed of volcanic rubble in various stages of the decomposition into soil. There are no large trees, all of them having used up for fuel and building supplies after just a few hundred years of human inhabitation. Considering the composition of the ground, there probably never were very many to begin with. Other than the grasses and ground-hugging wildflowers, the natural vegetation is limited to patches of scrubby bushes and small stands of short spindly pine trees. I've read that there are some old protected birch forests in the north part of the island, but even in these forests a tree that is more than 20 feet tall is a rarity.  A local joke goes something like this...  Q: What do you do if you're lost in the forest in Iceland?  A: Stand Up! 


Another marvelous aspect of the ride were the small herds of Icelandic horses that we encountered along the way.. They are really quite handsome and majestic animals, with beautiful flowing manes dancing in the wind as they prance and gallop across the open fields. The pool and gym facility was empty except for 2 employees, ourselves, and one curious little girl. It's a dead week before school starts. Although there were no other bathers except for us, Katla, and Inga-Ber, the pool did have a large tubular slide and plenty of very warm water, so the kids were very happy. The weather was even mostly nice (spots of sunshine, low wind, only a few drops of rain).  I was particularly impressed with Anna and Tom's durability on the horses; especially Tom, since Anna has had a few riding lessons. 


It is not surprising that in Iceland, "crops" are basically large gardens often contained in greenhouses, and "agricultural activity" almost always involves some sort of cattle and/or poultry.  The rocky, rutted fields tested our riding abilities, but the ponies did an incredible job of compromising between where they thought they could and should safely tread and obeying where they were being commanded to go. Even so, they would occasionally stumble or slide a little and test our ability to stay balanced and in the saddle. We developed a great respect for both the animals and their trainers, in addition to our own satisfaction at having completed the ride without concussions or broken bones.


 Everyone is saddled up and looking forward to the ride. 

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We got to have this fun public pool all to ourselves.

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And all along the ride ,  out and back, we passed various groups (herds?)  of ponies,

assumedly owned by various local farmers ,

who invariably mosed over to check out the passing riders and their mounts.

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        - Rolf  8/23/01