4 ways Iceland horseback riding is like meditation
Iceland is famous for its iconic natural beauty, and there is no more visceral way to experience it than through Iceland horseback riding.
While I certainly recommend that you go hiking during your time in Iceland, you will not get the full Icelandic nature experience without riding a horse.
Horseback riding in Iceland takes the mindfulness benefits of a nature walk and multiplies them.
Forest Bathing, Iceland Style
Wellness enthusiasts globally have taken to forest bathing, a Japanese practice that elevates a walk through wildlife into a meditative journey. Iceland horseback riding is a way to enjoy a unique Icelandic twist on forest bathing. At our farm, we have more than 200 acres of wide open space to roam and enjoy. You can immerse yourself in the grassy terrain, invigorating beach, and flowing river. We believe in taking our time with each group and guest who arrives here – who needs to rush when there is so much to be gained from slowly taking it all in? On each ride, we go where our moods and energy take us that day – it’s all about mindfulness and flow.
Mindfulness With Horses
I teach breathwork as part of every horseback ride that I lead. This is because Icelandic horses are a living part of Icelandic nature, and are very intuitive. They feel what their riders are feeling. I want my guests to feel centered before they start their ride, both so they can connect more closely with their horse and so they are present enough to fully take in the mindfulness journey of the ride. Iceland horseback riding feels a lot like a meditation retreat, and it’s easy to see why…
1. Horses Can Feel Your Stress And Your Calm
When you’re hanging out with humans, you might be able to disguise how you’re feeling with a few words or by faking your mood. With Icelandic horses, there’s no hiding how you really feel. Your horse is reading into your energy each step of the way to serve as instructions. By simply sitting calmly and finding your center, you are communicating with your horse that all is well.
2. Breathing Is Key
I always instruct first-time riders to focus extra closely on their breathing. Just like in traditional meditation, keeping your breath slow and even makes for a great experience. You are the horse’s leader, and breathing calmly and slowly tells the horse that there is nothing to fear. We set the tone of our day based on the attitude we choose when we wake up each morning – this is no different for when we start an Iceland horseback ride.
3. Energy Is Your Shared Language
Icelandic horses know what your energy means. These empathetic horses know when you are having a hard day, when you’re uncontainably excited, or when you’re calm. They also know whether you’re feeling confident – and confidence is ideal when forming a bond with a horse. I show my guests how to increase and decrease their energy through body language to instruct the horses to either start walking or slow down. In meditation and yoga, we’re often taught to release excess energy by exhaling it out. The same method applies in Icelandic horse riding. Exhale any stress and jitters, inhale calm and presence so you can take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the crisp Icelandic outdoors.
4. Always Stay Present
When horse riding, you’ll always want to pay close attention to your surroundings. This is so you can communicate clearly to your horse if needed, sense changes in the terrain, and of course, enjoy your surroundings as vividly as possible. Whether we are riding along an Icelandic black beach or along rolling hills, there is an abundance of natural beauty you will not want to miss.
When you and the Icelandic horse are in harmony as a team, mindfulness becomes second nature. It’s like your own personal Icelandic wellness retreat in the great outdoors.
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