Álftagerði Farm in Skútustaðir - We Think!
When we went to the Visitor's Center on the east side of Mývatn next to the N1 and across from Hotel Reykjahlid where we stayed, they told us of two places that offered horseback riding in the area. One did three trips a day at certain hours and the other was a farm where you just show up. We are not good with scheduled things so we drove the 15 minutes down to the farm and knocked on the door. We were a little nervous about this since we did not know if we were in the right place. We had already driven by it twice and asked at the hotel next to the pseudo craters. It had a sign with the horse on it indicating horseback riding so it was obvious, but we were still uncertain. A woman answered the door and referred to her husband Arti who was just about to run an errand. We were in the right place, but he suggested we come back in about 2 hours. We had a plan in place.
It was at the end of the day after a heavy rain (which is why we don't have great photos) that we started out. The lake is heavily populated with a insect called a midge that is very annoying and agressive, so we were given head nets to wear over our helmets and faces. It was a luxury to have them. When it came time for them to select the right horses for us, I always make sure to underplay any riding experience that I have. Which is really challanging to say that I am worse than bad at it. After my experience on Black Friday when I was younger I try to play it safe now. besides, the international rule of thumb is that if an American says they can ride, they probably can't. They analyzed our ability and I was given a horse named Lucifer. Oh boy! I immediately renamed him Cinnamon and hoped my riding lessons had improved my skills since I rode Black Friday as a child. Despite the imposing name, Lucifer ended up being a wonderful, easy to ride horse.
The three of us headed across the road and into the area near the pseudo craters. It was very beautiful. The Icelandic equine has a gait that other horses or ponies do not have called tölt which is very smooth and comfortable if you like a little speed, but if you do not hold the reigns right, the horse does what it is told and the gait turns into an uncomfortable trot. It took me a few tries to get it right, but it was a lot of fun once I got the handle on it.
Arti was very helpful and told us interesting things about the area and the horses along the way and our experience with this business was excellent. The horses were very well taken care of and his love for his horses really showed. We rode for an hour and due to the setting sun it was probably time to head in, but I could have gone longer if the daylight allowed. It was hard to give Cinnamon/Lucifer back, but we said our goodbyes and I hope we will return again some day.