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Challenge Rides

  • Last reviewed: 23rd January 2023
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Take on the challenge

Since the launch in 2000, hundreds of horse riders have saddled-up and embarked on fantastic overseas adventures with The British Horse Society. From Namibia to Mongolia and India to Iceland – we have put together equestrian adventures of a lifetime that will suit both your riding ambitions and your ability. 

Upcoming Rides  in 2023


6th - 12th July 2023


11th - 20th August 2023



Register Your Interest

Please fill out the form and a member of our team will get in touch with information about the ride of a lifetime! 


Alternatively, if you would like to book onto a Challenge Ride, fill out the form below

Book here


Itineraries 2023

Iceland: 6th-12th July 2023


Fly UK to Reykjavik


Vellir guesthouse


Ride across the broad plain to Storu-Mork farm. 24 Km


Farmhouse bunks


Follow the Markarfljot River tht troll country. 25 Km


Mountain hut


"Elves Church" to Stakkholtsgja Canyon. 30 Km


Mountain hut


Fording shallow rivers and return to the farm. 22 Km


Vellir guesthouse


Black sand beach ride. 12 Km




Blue Lagoon and transfer to airport




In brief

Thórsmörk is a nature reserve, surrounded on three sides by glaciers, in the interior of southern Iceland. To access this hidden valley the rider must ford several glacial rivers, ride around beautiful waterfalls, cross the lava fields from the 2010 eruption and hack through the wooded areas that protect the reserve. A fantastic, magical riding experience.



Thórsmörk is named after the Norse god of thunder, Thor. The valley itself is bordered by three glaciers, one of which has the unpronounceable name of Eyjafjallajökull which is the volcano that erupted in 2010 causing disruption to Europe’s air-space and grounding all flights. The volcano is dormant once more, but the ash residue is still visible and part of the ride goes right across the field.


Thórsmörk is a real surprise: fertile and green and because it’s so sheltered, much warmer than the surrounding area. There ae several dainty waterfalls along the way, though the main river, the River Krossa, comes directly from a glacier and is absolutely freezing!


This is a “loop” trail that begins at the stable and ends at the farmhouse. Total distance ridden is 105 Km in 4 + 1 riding days; with an additional day at the end to ride along the black-sand beach.


The Itinerary

6th July. Day 1: Arriving in Iceland
The flight to Reykjavik takes just over 3 hrs. As soon as you clear customs and immigration the group catches the “FlyBus” into the centre of town. A couple of years ago the Icelandic authorities forbade private vehicles accessing the airport to reduce congestion: FlyBus drops you in the city centre where you rendez vous with the farm truck which completes the trip to the farm. It sounds more complex than it is! Dinner on the first evening is included and after the meal there will be a detailed briefing about the ride.


7th July. Day 2: Ride from Hveragerdi to Torfastaðir
This morning we walk the short distance to the stable and meet the horses. The ranch has about 300 horses which include saddle horses, stallions, brood mares and young stock. Not only does the ranch organise riding holidays in Iceland, but buy and sell horses, thus keeping their riding horses up to scratch. A walk around the stable is a fascinating insight to Iceland horse-management.


There’s a chance to take your horse into the ménage and get the feel of each other before the ride begins. The morning’s trail leads across a broad plain, along the river bank with views of hills, mountains and glaciers on all sides. After reaching the striking rock called Dímon, which is well known from the Saga of Njáll, we cross the old bridge over the river Markarfljót and reach the farmhouse where we stay overnight.


Njall’s saga dates from the year 960 and deals with a decades-long blood feud, the consequences of vengeance and the defence of family honour. The saga is full of omens, prophetic dreams and life-and-death duels! All good stuff and ideally suited to fire-side conversation.


Distance ridden: 25 km; 4 hours riding.


8th July. Day 3: From Stóra-Mörk to Thórsmörk
Today we follow the river Markarfljót (which also features in the Saga of Njáll) across the slopes of the infamous glacier and volcano Eyjafjallajökull, riding over soft ground covered by the ash of the volcano’s 2010 eruption. As we approach the valley the trail crosses several rivers including the torrential glacial river Krossá, before we reach the beautiful nature reserve known as Thórsmörk.


We stay overnight at the mountain hut in the valley and enjoy the spectacular landscape and surprisingly rich vegetation of birch woods, canyons and lava formations shaped by rivers and volcanos.


Distance ridden: 25 km; 6 hours riding.


9th July. Day 4: From Thórsmörk to Stóra-Mörk
The day begins with a visit of the “Elves Church”, a distinctive volcanic formation. Then ride on to the enormous canyon Stakkholtsgjá which is about 2 Km long with vertical sides rising up 100m. The canyon narrows and ends in a waterfall (not accessible on horseback). We follow the riding trail that leads out of the valley, over green heathlands and back to the path again on the floor of the valley.


Nearby is Stóra-Mörk farm where we stay overnight.


Distance ridden: 30 km; 6 hours riding.


10th July. Day 5: From Stóra-Mörk to Torfastaðir
Good trails criss-cross the shallow rivers before joining the old road through the green hills of Fljótshlíð. On our way back towards Torfastaðir farm we pass another farm where one of the most famous Vikings, Gunnar of Hlíðarendi, lived and died, once again, according to the Saga of Njáll. A short distance further on is Vellir farm.


Distance ridden: 25 Km; riding time 5 hours.


12th July. Day 6: Black sand beach ride
This morning we ride out from the farm in the opposite direction to Thórsmörk and meadow trails lead to the seaside and a black sand beach. 


After breakfast and check-out (leaving all baggage at reception) we box the horses to the small fishing town Thorlákshöfn, where we set off on a ride on the long, black beach. The sand is derived from pumice, hence its course, black nature. We follow the beautiful beach along the surf of the North Atlantic for a few kilometres, until we reach the wilderness area where the mighty glacial river Ölfusá meets the sea and forms a large delta. We ride through shallow water at the edge of the delta and reach the grassy river bank beyond. The trail leads into an important conservation area that consists of an extensive wetland, to reach farmland in the Ölfús area. On our way we have plenty of opportunity to try all paces; it feels so far from civilization surrounded by the spectacular views of mountains and the volcanos Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull, weather permitting. We also have good chances to see sea and wetland birds of different species living in the Flói Bird Reserve between the ocean shore and the river. After reaching the old cemetery at Arnarbæli we ride along the river Gljúfurá and through pastures with grazing horses. This is the end of the ride. Time for good-byes and the bus takes you to Reykjavik.


The truck takes you back to a city hotel in the capital. Dinner in Reykjavik.

13th July. Day 7: Blue Lagoon and Returning home
Transfer by FlyBus back to the airport, pausing for a final soak in the Blue Lagoon on the way.


Thousands of people visit The Blue Lagoon each year so tickets are ‘timed’ restricting the numbers of people in the lagoon at any one time, so it’s never crowded. You can bask in the milky-blue lagoon, sauna and steam room; enjoy a mud mask and drink your choice from the in-water bar, the perfect way to ease those riding muscles.


The details.

The horses

Sometime around the year 900 Norsemen brought horses to Iceland from Scandinavia, and thus began the distinctive breed that we know today. The Viking culture is rich in sagas that date from around this time and there are frequent references to horses in these heavyweight tombs. Natural selection due to the harsh climate, coupled with selective breeding, has manipulated and moulded to become a resilient, multi-purpose horse. The breed society was established in 1904.


Iceland is just about free from horse diseases because imports are banned and horses that are exported can never return. In Iceland the horses are first and foremost used as working horses, herding sheep. There is also a thriving leisure industry and the all-important racing. Racing is done at tölt and a great deal of prestige hangs on these meets.


Most of the farm’s horses have done several trails over the years and are adept at looking after their riders. Each is a unique character and every one of them makes for a kind, reliable mount deserving of the very best consideration and care. Sizes 14 hh to 14.2 hh (128 cm and 148 cm). It is thought an insult to call it a pony, and all over the world they are known as Icelandic horses.  Many riders return from their first ride on an Icelandic “pony” saying “This is truly a Horse” such is the feeling of power and personality that just glows from the horse.


The tack

English saddles and snaffle bits are the order of the day which are comfortable for horse and rider. Each saddle is fitted with two specially made water saddle-bags that sit forward of the rider, rather than behind. If you like to ride with a sheepskin numnah (or saddle-saver) you are welcome to bring one, so long as it is brand new and totally unused. Each rider is responsible for grooming, regularly checking over and tacking up their own horse (assistance is given when required).


The gaits
One of the greatest characteristics of the Icelandic horse is that it has five gaits: In addition to normal walk, trot, canter, and gallop there is also tölt and skeið (flying pace).

  • The tölt
    The tölt is a four-beat gait, very soft and comfortable for the rider. A horse can tölt at different speeds, ranging from a walking tempo to gallop tempo.


When riding tölt, the rider needs to encourage the horse forward but keep the energy within himself with the seat; keep a positive tension in the body but not stiff. The rein contact is also crucial. If the rider gets too relaxed and the rein becomes loose, the horse will go to trot; too stiff with over-contact via the rein and the horse will go into “piggy pace” (a slow two-beat gait which is not desired). Tölt is fast, and only used for short bursts, on good ground, and usually only in a straight line.


The Icelandic horse has a very individual character. It is patient, adaptable, uncomplicated and sometimes very spirited. It has a friendly personality and a special affinity for people. It is bred as a riding and working horse for Icelandic farmers which makes it an excellent family horse. With no natural predators in its home country, the horse has shed much of its natural “fight or flight” instinct.  At the same time, the diversity within the breed is enormous.  You can find the safest children’s horses, and the hottest pace race horses within this breed, so take care not to think all Icelandic horses are alike!



Max 20 Kg per person. All baggage is transported on the supply truck and catches up with you in the evening. It’s best to use a soft-sided hold-all, as we recommend for all our rides, rather than a suitcase.



It is best to wear several layers of clothing because temperatures vary so dramatically between nighttime and daytime. This ride takes places during the warmer months of the year; the range is from single figures up to mid 20’s°C. A good hat is essential and a buff helps to keep the sun off your face and doubles up to keep the dust at bay.  The glare from the sun is strong so sunglasses with a retaining string (lanyard) to keep them round your neck is a good idea.  Sunblock, lip-balm and plenty of water are essential. Jodhpur boots or long boots work well; and the multi-purpose “H20” boot from Ariat is also good because they are comfortable when walking / leading and they’re waterproof.


Price includes

Saddle horse and tack for the duration

Full board from supper on day 1 to breakfast day 7

Entrance to the Blue Lagoon

2 night farm guesthouse

1 night farmhouse

2 night mountain hut

1 night city centre hotel


Price excludes

International flights

Travel insurance

Columbia - 11th-20th August 2023


Download here

Day 1: Bogotá Arrival in Bogotá

Transfer Airport / Hotel. Check into hotel and overnight (no meals included)

Day 2: Bogotá - Oiba

We will drive through the beautiful roads of the departments of Cundinamarca, Boyacá and Santander, up to the town of Oiba where we will spend the night. Time: 5 hours approx.

Day 3: Oiba - Charalá

The horses, already saddled, will be waiting for us at the hotel, and we will ride from Oiba to Charalá through beautiful woodlands and mountains with a pleasant temperature of approx. 68°F, surrounded by luxuriant vegetation and clear water streams. By mid-afternoon we will arrive in the noble town of Charalá, birthplace of our independence, where we will admire the Cathedral and the precious Arabian Saman tree planted in the main square in 1910, in honour of the martyrs of Independence. On August 4, 1819 more than 300 men and women were executed in this square, just 3 days before the final battle of Independence. This fact, no doubt, contributed to Bolivar's victory at the Battle of the Bridge of Boyacá on August 7, 1819, since it prevented the troops of the Spanish General Gonzalez, which had destroyed Charalá, from joining those of General Barreiro in Tunja. At sunset we can walk along its beautiful cobblestone streets and enjoy the pleasant weather, the architecture, and the kindness of its people before dining and retiring for a well-deserved rest at a local hotel.

Day 4: Charalá - Paramo

We will leave at 10 am, and ride along the path that borders the majestic Fonce River, where we can see on the left-hand side how the river is formed by the confluence of the Pienta and Táquiza Rivers,
under a natural arch of trees and bushes. To the right-hand side we can see mountains planted with sugarcane and grass pastures. We will cross the Fonce River by the bridge that goes to Ocamonte, in the place called Palenque, and then continue to the Juan Curi falls where we can see water falling more than 50 meters into a natural pool. Here we can refresh ourselves from the midday heat, and enjoy a traditional lunch prepared in the local restaurant. Afterwards, we will climb the mountain and pass along the top of the Juan Curi falls on our way to the village of Páramo, where we will be able to see one of the most beautiful churches in the region, made of stone and wood. The night will be spent at a hacienda (traditional manor house) in a coffee and sugar cane plantation, enjoying a home-cooked meal in the company of the owners, a traditional family of the region.

Day 5: Páramo - El Palmar

On the way to the village of El Socorro, another breeding ground of patriots and martyrs of the Independence at the end of the 18th century, we will see coffee plantations and spectacular mountains. After crossing the paved road that leads to Bucaramanga, at the municipality of El Socorro, we will proceed towards the voluminous Suarez River, famous for its rapids where Level V rafting is practiced, cross it on a suspension bridge and start our descent towards the town of El Palmar. On this journey we can fully appreciate the magnificent basin of the Suarez River, a geographical formation carved over thousands of years by this river that is born in the Fúquene Lake, and which serves as a preamble to the spectacular canyon of the Chicamocha River which we will appreciate further on. In the afternoon we will arrive in the beautiful town of El Palmar which features, on its main square, an enormous ceiba tree of approximately 10 meters in diameter. We will spend the night at a beautiful local hacienda.

Day 6: El Palmar - Barichara

After crossing the Suárez River again, we will take the path to Cabrera, a small village where colonial architecture has been exceptionally well preserved. From here, the trail continues to the Barichara plateau by way of the old royal road, and enters this emblematic jewel of colonial architecture through the royal bridge. We will walk along its beautiful cobblestone streets, observing its parks and churches, on our way to a spectacular country house in the outskirts of town.

Day 7: Barichara Cañón

We will have a 3 hour ride through beautiful tobacco plantations on the way to The Chicamocha Canyon, a Colombian natural attraction nominated as part of the group of 261 destinations in the campaign to select the top seven natural wonders of the world. This paradise-like place is a not-to-be-missed visual spectacle. Imposing, majestic, and fascinating is how tourists describe the Chicamocha Canyon, a geographic accident located in the department of Santander. After having a light lunch we will return to Barichara to enjoy a delicious dinner and a well-deserved rest.

Day 8: Sightseeing in Barichara

The real treasure of Barichara is its pristine colonial architecture. Many come to this pueblo just to wander its flagstone lanes, snapping photos of the white-washed, red-tile-roofed buildings. Start your exploration at the Templo de la Inmaculada Concepción y San Lorenzo on the main square. It is built of local stone carved by the village's artisans. The "Capilla de San Juan de Dios" is a beautiful church with a noteworthy cemetery. The "Capilla de San Antonio" is a famous attractive with a small shaded plazuela. The "Casa Aquileo Parra" was once-home of a former Colombian President (1876-78). It's presently a museum. The "Capilla Santa Bárbara" is an amazing place to visit, now used for cultural events.

Day 9: Barichara - Bogotá

Return to Bogota and accommodation in a comfortable hotel (no meals included).

Day 10: Bogotá

Transfer Hotel / Airport. End of this great adventure.

Frequently asked Questions

Who can go on a Challenge ride?

You need to be over 18 and a competent rider. A sense of adventure is essential! 

How fit do I need to be?

You will be spending 5 - 7 hours in the saddle a day so the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the experience. There is a weight limit of 85kg for all the rides. 

How good a rider do I need to be?

Although you don’t need to be technically brilliant, safety is paramount, so you need to have a safe, secure and balanced seat in all paces and be confident riding at speed.

What are the horses like?

The welfare of both horse and rider is our upmost priority. All the horses we use are selected based on their behaviour, training and nature. They are familiar with each other, used to the routes and fit for the terrain. Standards will change in different countries- for instance in tack - but will always be in good condition and completely safe. 

What is included in the cost of a Challenge Ride?

The ground costs vary with each destination; however, all ride costs include accommodation, food, water, fruit and refreshments throughout the trip. It also includes all ground and baggage transfers, back-up support vehicles, medical backup, the guides and horses.  

Travel insurance, visa costs and any optional tours you wish to undertake are not included in the cost. 

Flights are to be arranged independently but advised by the tour company who can also offer trip extensions and tailor-made packages if required.


This will be an amazing adventure in aid of The British Horse Society. We require a £300 registration fee with your booking plus a £500 minimum fundraising donation in support of your chosen appeal or campaign.

Have a look at which appeal you would like to fundraise for. 

Other ways to support us

Find out more about our membership options, volunteers opportunities and learn about other ways you can fundraise and support our charitable work. Without your support we couldn't continue the work we do to protect and promote the interests of horses and equestrians around the UK.

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