Despite my best efforts to cuddle with a puffin, two other animals have dominated our Icelandic experience. Brett pet a cow yesterday and we were followed by an overly social group of chickens, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
The first is the Icelandic horse. It is really lovely. We were told by Mosel, this odd-duck, Bluetooth-wearing woman we met who also randomly trains horses all about how special they are. They are gentle and friendly. They show well, but if you take one abroad for a competition you generally have to leave it as the quarantine period for a horse’s return is prohibitive. A very sad thought indeed. Since they are such an isolated species, they have limited immunity to all the grossness of less-magical ponies.
They are also magical because they have five (or six) gaits. Most horses only have three (or four) (walk, trot, canter/gallop…canter/gallop are sometimes separated). The Icelandic horse’s fifth gait is called the tölt, known for explosive speed and a comfortable ride. This link is so, so worth the 19 seconds (they’ve turned off embedding.) The sixth is very rare. It’s the skeið, flugskeið or “flying pace”.
Here’s what it looks like:
Not as awesome as the tölt, but pretty sweet.
The other animal that we see, as there are far more of them than people, is sheep. Seriously, they are everywhere. If you look to the left or right, there are sheep. If you look on the craggiest hillside that looks steeper than steep, they’re there too. The Ring Road is a two-land highway. The threat of sheep attack is constant. They loom on the side of the road.
They glare at you to remind you that you are invading their space.
They run in front of your car.
The speed limit on the good bits of the Ring Road is only 90km/h. That is still very fast when dopey sheep are in the way. If you suffer the misfortune of hitting one, it is your responsibility to track down the owner and offer compensation. Considering the sheep don’t seem to notice the electric fences (Brett can tell you how he knows they’re electric), it seems a much realer possibility than I had given credence to initially.
Oh, what’s #8197? That’s the big ram staring us down. His ear tag told me so. He’s one of just under 500,000 potential speed bumps out there on our last two days. Fingers crossed.