The Accidental Extremist
There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Trip….

Off a Pony, Express [Rough Landings]
Friday April 10th 2009, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Just like riding a bike!

Just like riding a bike!

    The Icelandic Tourist Board was a new client of my public relations agency and I was thrilled to be visiting the legendary Arctic Open Midnight Sun golf tournament in the northern part of the country, up near the Arctic Circle. My local host was a bulldog of a man – thick neck, close-cropped blond hair, blazing blue eyes – named Thor who, like many of my new Icelandic contacts, had the habit of sharply gasping in air when he spoke. Thor was thinking of buying a new Icelandic horse, one of the purest breeds on earth. Although the size of ponies, these were fully-grown powerful animals that horse fanciers around the globe proudly show in festive equestrian events.

  Driving his ATV to a field in Akureyri, he points out a brown horse, grabs a saddle and trudges through mud up to his ankles to saddle up. Once astride the animal, it takes off like a shot – tolting down the road, almost out of sight. Within a few seconds, he muscles the animal to return, tolts back to within a few yards of me, and unceremoniously gets thrown to the ground, literally beside my feet.

“Want to try to ride her?” he asks with that lilting Icelandic accent that dates back centuries to the Viking days.

   Like the fool that I am, I answer, “Sure why not?” I figure I know how to ride.  After all, didn’t I take the kids on a trail ride once on the rim of the Grand Canyon?  Didn’t I once participate in an evening ride to a swank dinner party in Keystone?

    I saddle up, but within a few seconds, the horse takes off like a bullet with me holding on for dear life. I was trying to think of the Icelandic word for “whoa,” but all that could come to mind were the few phrases I learned just the night before in an Akureyri nightclub: “Hi, my name is Jeff. Want to dance?”

   About a quarter mile down the road – despite my best efforts to turn, to stop, to get this pint-size mastodon to take a piss ­– anything – I get thrown to the ground. Thor picks me up in his Range Rover with the giant glacier-trekking studded tires and we go straight to the local hospital. I had bruised a kidney and was forced to spend the next two days laying in my hotel room, popping pain pills like M & M’s, trying to sleep as the midnight sun streams into the room, and kids play noisily outdoors at 2 a.m.

   That was 15 years ago and now, as I look back, I realize that horseback riding accident  could have been a game changer. A Christopher Reeve moment, except I wasn’t wearing a helmet like he was. Stupid? Indubitably. I was arrogantly invincible when I saddled up. No so arrogant, not so invincible when I flew home, tail between my legs.—Jeff Blumenfeld is the editor of and has a book coming out June 1 titled, You Want to Go Where? How To Get Someone to Pay For the Trip of Your Dreams (Skyhorse Publishing)


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3 Comments so far
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Good grief. Not something your Mother wants to know!
Luvya, Your Momma


Comment by ivyblumenfeld 04.11.09 @ 7:39 pm

You did what!?!?!?!


Comment by Ruth 04.21.09 @ 6:28 am

Great story, Jeff!


Comment by Susan Farewell 05.01.09 @ 10:37 am

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