Day 2 was a late start. Late enough that after waking up and having a coffee made from the sink that tasted quite strongly of sulfur (I was too impatient to wait for the brewed coffee our guides had made, so I mixed hot sink water with instant Starbucks sachet), we still had several hours to kill. So what to do to waste time in Iceland? Why sit in a hot tub of course!
A large group of us went across the road from the school to a public pool, paid about the equivalent of $5 to get in, and spent a long time soaking up the hot mountain water, gazing out at the beautiful mountains all around us and sharing stories about the Derby, our lives at home, and plans for the future. One thing we all agreed, this trip certainly wasn’t the Mongol Derby, but we could certainly get used to riding Icelandic style – when there were beds and hot tubs involved. Do we really want to go back and do the Derby again after this luxury?
All was lovely until the shower after. Icelandic pools have you shower before and after your swim, in a group setting (divided by sexes), fully naked. This doesnt bother me so much, but as Anita passed me the shampoo, I managed to slip on the floor, feet straight up in the air, and land hard on my butt… completely naked of course (giving her quite the show I’m sure). We all laughed pretty hard, and I managed to scrape my butt up pretty good from the grainy floor. I prayed that be my only fall for the trip (thankfully it was!) and fielded the questions with a laugh for the rest of my trip as others noticed the marks in the showers. I’m sure I wont live this one down.
Breakfast was an assortment of breads, lunchmeats, cheeses, and a yogurt type food called skyr (unfortunately though I understand it is delicious, I wasnt able to try it due to a reaction I have from dairy – causes inflammation in my chest which is very painful and not so great to ride with, so I couldnt risk it!). We also used these ingredients to make sandwiches to stow away in our saddle bags for lunch later on. I took advantage of some jelly and made jelly and banana sandwich to cut down on meat (as I am also complicated that way!)- of course this became a favourite of the horses as well!
We were shuttled back to the farm where we had left the horses, and watched with anticipation as they were brought back in and caught for us.
I was given a pretty pinto mare whose name sounded something like Balti (however I know its incorrect as Anita had a great laugh over how we were spelling our horses names on facebook – Icelandic might be one of the most difficult languages out there!)
Given the previous day, how none of us were able to tack up our horses properly, Anita took Balti and gave us a lesson.
I had decided to switch my gopro over from my helmet to a selfie stick (for the first time ever), however shortly into the ride, I regretted it! I was on a rocket! I did my best to take some gopro video, but had some trouble managing everything with my hands full, and I think she may have thought it was a whip. I guess she wasnt one for taking selfies much!
She was great at herding, any time we had a horse stray she was eager to sprint down and send it back to the group. Don’t you just love mares? She was so lovely, and I put the selfie stick away for the rest of the ride, appreciating the moment instead. It was about then, I realized I had never had a bad horse so far. Nothing to dislike about the Icelandics!
She was so bold, going through things that Bentley would plant his feet at and scream “nuh’uh!”
We stopped for a rest part way through as per usual and as the front of the herd, we were to block the horses from going too far. At that point I was with Katja and the (non icelandic) men, and a few naughty horses decided to push the boundaries. The men took off after them, causing the horses to run further. Katja and I screamed after them, stop pushing them away, come back here! And tried to herd the men back, but ended up just rolling our eyes with exasperation. Stop, dont be part of the problem!
Sam came trotting byto come her the horses back. If anyone can do it, its her! The men still took off after her saying “She can’t do it alone” to which Katja and I exclaimed, “Yes, she can!” Long story short, us women rolled our eyes again, exlaiming “ugh, men!”, Sam managed to bring in both the loose horses and the loose men, and everybody got about grazing as intended. I think too, we all learned a little more about herd dynamics and how the horses react to our controls.
We continued on after our break and got into more mountainous terrain. It was beginning to get even more beautiful than the day before. None of us had thought that possible of course! We climbed up into a mountainous area with a great view, before stopping again – this time to switch horses.
To be continued…