The Weekender

Ride Horseback through Vermont

Jul 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

One hoof in front of the other: horseback riding across Vermont

Sign on for a two-day, two-night trip in the Green Mountains with Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm and you'll ride the Ducati of horse breeds by day and snooze in spindle-leg feather beds by night. You and the gang will spend six hours each day in the saddle, exploring forests of white birch and maple near 4,393-foot Mount Mansfield, the highest in the state; you'll return each evening to the Mad River Inn, with private baths and an outdoor Jacuzzi (soak that saddle-sore caboose while stargazing).

Don't expect one of those elephant-walk affairs, where the horses shuffle nose-to-tail down the path. You and the kids will be cantering across meadows, fording streams, and trotting down dirt roads or wooded mountain trails, with stops to rest, eat lunch, and take unscheduled dips under waterfalls and in swimming holes. Karen Winhold, who owns the farm with her mother, June, welcomes riders from veteran to novice, but you'll at least need to know how to walk, trot, and canter.
The Winholds' sturdy Icelandic steeds make the trip especially kid-friendly. Bred by the Vikings 1,500 years ago, these horses are small, gentle, and surefooted, inspiring big-time confidence in even the younger riders. (Don't worry, burly folks; one of these strong animals can easily carry a 250-pound adult.) The breed is known for its two unusual gaits: the tolt, a smooth running-walk up to 30 miles per hour (you're more likely to be thrown from a rocking Barcalounger than from a tolting horse), and the faster skeid, a smooth but soaring gait that makes riders feel as if they're flying.

WHO CAN GO: Kids age ten and up with riding experience.
COST: $475 per person, including all food and lodging
CONTACT: Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm, 802-496-7141;

Filed To: New York City, Vermont

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