Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Riding In Iceland

I received an email from a reader about my trip to Iceland and how I handled the disinfecting of riding equipment. I realized when I was responding, that I never actually posted any resolution about how I did handle this aspect of my trip. So, to help other equestrians who are thinking about going to ride in Iceland, I have a summary of what I ended up doing and some details I encountered while I was doing the research.

Note: as I did run out of time during my research, I wouldn't say my summary is complete but this should be a good start for those looking; my information is also specific for equestrians so anglers or hunters or vets need to do more research.


Iceland is an island nation that has its own population of horses, called the Icelandic Horse. Their horses are not vaccinated against any seriously infectious disease. As like any isolated country, their biosecurity measures are meant to protect all their flora and fauna. Anglers, hunters and equestrians alike need to take appropriate biosecurity measures to protect the ecosystem during their visit.

Researched Options

When I spoke with my small animal vet, she told me that vets generally travelling to different animal populations practice 2 weeks prior and 2 weeks post travel, to avoid any contact with animals, period. That is a very general practice and wouldn't hurt to employ, if you can. But, I was never asked to do this for my travels.

Travellers can approach this requirement by two options:
  1. Prepare prior to travel: riding clothes like pants and tops should be wet washed and dried (or dry cleaned) and then "rested" 5 days prior to going. Boots and half chaps can be washed and dried and then further disinfected with Virkon-S or a similar disinfectant (you can probably find this at most tack shops). Then you can get your veterinarian to write up a letter, sign and stamp it to certify that you have completed as needed.
  2. Address the requirement upon landing in Reykjavik: if you want to do things in Reykjavik, you'll want to stay longer than a few days. There is a service available at the airport called Icepark. They can do all that stuff for you (they also do this for anglers and others) but hold things for a few days before providing them back to you. I didn't go this route and didn't further investigate it but it sounds like it could prove to be logistically challenging.


There are limitations about certain items that absolutely cannot be brought into the country... such as used riding gloves and any used horse tack. The reasoning behind this seems to be that there is a high chance that these items would come in contact with equine fluids such as saliva etc so were simply prohibited to tourists to bring.

Keep in mind though, that Icelandic horses have their style of tack and plus, it's probably not possible to know the size of your mount. Gloves on the other hand are not terribly expensive so it likely isn't a major issue to get new ones for your trip.

What I ended up doing...

I didn't end up getting the veterinary certification that was referred to me because I ran out of time. I did have correspondence with a representative from MAST, the Icelandic Food & Veterinary Authority, as well as my small animal veterinarian. Because my trip was not solely focused on riding and I wasn't staying a long time (over a week), I did as simply as possible. I washed my riding clothes (as directed) such as tops and bottoms and then bought new gloves (I didn't have winter gloves anyway), and used the rest of their equipment when I got there.

Because of the amount of stuff to bring and the coordination that would be involved, I didn't think that doing more was worth my time. However, if your trip is more horsey focused or longer, you might feel otherwise.


Check out the MAST website (English version) and contact them to get more information. They are helpful but you'll want to do it well ahead of time so you don't run out, if you need more extensive information.

Bonus Tip

I found taking photos or videos was easiest with a mounted camera such as a GO Pro to keep your hands free during the ride.


  1. Replies
    1. hopefully you'll be able to make use of it when you go to iceland? ;P

  2. very cool - and i had no idea about the limitations on riding gloves etc. strange but i guess it makes sense?

    1. i know! i had no idea that there were even restrictions like that.

  3. You are a wealth of knowledge. I'm pretty sure you tell me something I don't know every single day, lol.

    1. why thank you! hopefully one day you'll visit iceland and take a ride into the lava fields too!

  4. Great tips! I plan to do some riding on my upcoming trip so this is good stuff to know. I had been debating bringing my riding boots and some other stuff, but am still a bit undecided about whether I will bother.

    1. thanks! it'll be great to hear about your travels!