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It’s time to say farewell to King Kristinn. I thank him for looking after me and tell him I feel like I’ve had a personal epiphany: it turns out I love riding. And I say that I’ve been struck by the inclusivity of the group and the fact that I felt I made a useful contribution. ‘That’s the whole point,’ he says. ‘I’ve got to have everyone involved. I’ve got to choose the right people for the right jobs.’ And he heads back into the sheep pens to finish his work.

I climb the hill for a last look at Hekla. The sun hasn’t yet reached the slope and the earth is still frozen. My foot brushes against something sticking out of the scree. I dig around it – it’s a rusty horseshoe! It’s cold and gratifyingly weighty. I imagine it on my mantelpiece: bringing me luck, reminding me of Snillingur, enticing people to ask me about my horsemanship. Smugly, I clean it off and put it in the back of the car.

Three hours later, back in Reyjkavík, the horseshoe is nowhere to be found. I search for it with frustration, but to no avail. I have no idea what happened to it – but I seem to hear Marteinn Hjaltested saying: ‘You can’t be certain that it’s not elves.’

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The article ‘Iceland on horseback’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.

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