Trekking In Iceland, Day 2
Looking at the rocky moguls and lava rocky ridges and ditches and creeks of the environment, as they tacked up AJ was wondering where exactly they would be riding. And then suddenly they were all just running full speed over that treacherous terrain.
On the first day, AJ had shouted at her no-longer-mounted riding buddy to “let go!” and then had also had to do it herself, during “the incident.” On the second day, she witnessed a guide with a bay named Noah, demonstrate the complete opposite of that sentiment! It was like a circus act, as he, for some reason in an instant as the herd was first released and just beginning to run, he fell off, and then held on as he got dragged, to somehow sort of stand up, and then miraculously vault on to the horse in motion. We were amazed and he was hoping no one noticed! Incredible!
“Imagine riding Oliver with no reins,” AJ was the topic of some impressed conversation that night at dinner also. It had been discovered late in the ride that she had done the drop noseband up incorrectly, making her communication with her mount through her hands and the simple snaffle bit far less than ideal. All she knew for the first few hours of the ride was that he was a smooth but forward horse who was disinterested in her efforts to slow or steady him. Others were surprised to see him being more forceful, and in fact difficult with head shaking, than usual, and AJ had just concentrated on using the horse of the guide in front of her, as a break, and trying to just ride the rhythm, instead of fighting with him.
They crossed the river over and over and over, often in water deep enough to actually swim. And they rode alongside it for miles and miles and miles. It was glorious!
At one point, the herd had splintered. And as they tried to round up the rebels, one of the other guests fell off their horse. Some riders helped that situation and the others herded the ponies that were on the wrong side of the fence towards the rest of the herd. Success!
Then, with everyone’s attention on the fallen equestrian, one black and white pinto came barrelling back across the river to run the fence on the wrong side. AJ was the first to notice and took prompt action. For all her inexperience and ineptness on the gaited trek, she had a good understanding of herd dynamics and successfully, with the willingness of her mount, cut off the free-galloping individual, several times in several directions, and sent the adventurous independent loose horse back the direction it needed to go.
It was one of the highlights of the ride for AJ, when that guide said “You are a bad ass rider that could take my job!” AJ had felt that she had not quite gotten to the point to actually keep up with the pro riders properly, but at least had become a competent guest rider, that was on occasion actually useful.
In terms of tack check though, she was also disappointed that it took her 3 days to notice that her stirrup irons were the only ones withOUT rubber grips, making it even harder to keep her feet in them…
AJ had Jill laughing imitating a joke her room mate-during-the-adventure would do, when they weren’t riding, impersonating North American riding lessons “OK, OK, OK, everybody line up, we’re going to canter. ONE-AT-A-TIME!!! One length of the arena…” Meanwhile, how often, when we were riding full speed in the front of a herd of loose galloping horses, did a guide command: keep going, keep the speed! “I have to rush and open a gate, or fix something! You people in the front do what has to be done!”
AJ said most of her relaxing came from watching the 4 guides round up the herd from their overnight paddocks, to check for shoes, and match to riders etc. “I feel like I can't even be bothered to ride in North America now…”