Iceland: Horses, Part 6 of 8.

Oh, the horses in Iceland!  I know I sound a little pre-teen melodramatic here, but you already know how I love horses. Right?  Icelandic horses are very special. You can read up about them here.

In the winter, which is when I was there, Icelandic horse are fat, friendly and incredibly furry.  They live outside the majority of the year and they need the extra thick coat to keep them warm. As you approach, they amble over and eagerly press against the fences lining the roads.  If you're afraid of horses, I suggest you stand back from the fence and enjoy them from there. If you're not, slide under or jump over and head on in.  I've been told that the horse- and land-owners don't mind if you visit, as long as you're sensible about it. 

We were photographing this group just after sunrise so we had a very pretty pink, dappled light.

Once you're in, the horses will crowd you, so watch your feet.  If you happen to have bread, you might use it to give the horses a treat.  They love it.  Feed them with your hands and fingers held out flat.  The horses will eagerly snatch up the bread.  If your hand is stretched flat, you'll feel their velvety muzzles brush against your palm.  If you're being silly, and holding the bread like you would hold a dog treat, you might get your fingers nipped.  It's not purposeful - the horses just don't know your fingers are in the way of their treats.  

It's sort of fun to note that while horses here in America love apples, Icelandic horses don't really know them from Adam (ohhhh, such a bad pun).  Trees don't grow well in the harsh Icelandic climate so there aren't any fruit trees.  The apples that are imported onto the island are very expensive, so they're not used as treats.  The horses don't even know what they are.  

I used my ultra wide angle Tokina 11-16 when I was photographing the horses.  The slight distortion and inclusion of the landscape really spoke to me.

Once you've used all your bread, the horses will probably nip gently at your hat or jacket.  I've even had a horse chomp at the pocket where I stashed the bread.  It's incredibly charming when they cuddle up like this but keep your wits about you.  Even though these horses are much smaller than your average horse, if they lose their footing or get bumped, you want to make sure you can step back quickly.

I cropped in pretty tightly for this image, because the turn of the head felt like the star of this photo.  It was a gloomy day and my 70D was set at a very noisy 2500 ISO.  When I look at this elegant horse, the noise doesn't bother me at all.

After feeding them a few handfuls of bread, I always spent 20 or 30 minutes photographing them up close.  If you want pictures of yourself, or your travel mates, this is the perfect photo op to document your trip to Iceland.