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Exploring the Magic of Iceland: A Journey Through Colleen Cannon's Passion for Icelandic Horses

EquuStyle: How did you become a World-Class triahlete?

Colleen Cannon: I became a World Class triathlete basically because I loved horses.. ha ha.

I would run to them as a child and then ended up cycling to them in high school. Then I competed in a small short triathlon in Huntsville, Alabama and I loved it. 

I was quickly picked up by NIKE and was on their first triathlon team and traveled the world and was able to win the World Championships, and then also was National champion 3 times, and top 3 in the world for a very long time.

All because I loved horses.

EquuStyle:  In what ways did your career as an athlete influence or drive your desire to establish Women’s Quest as a leading wellness adventure retreats travel company for women?

Colleen Cannon: There is a long story about how I started Women's Quest. It is too long to write down.

The short version is that I was doing running clinics for Nike and for the Florida Distance runners club in Brevard, NC when I was in college. I loved that experience. 

As an athlete, I always gave inspirational talks for groups and I noticed that women really needed to come together and learn skills in a safe way. 

I retired from competing and started Women's Quest in 1992, to help empower, encourage, and explore and, of course, have fun and laugh. But also for women to try something new for the first time.

EquuStyle: When you established Women’s Quest, what were your initial goals? 

Colleen Cannon: The retreats have always been about transformation and balancing the Body Mind, and Spirit which is what I learned as an athlete.

EquuStyle: How have Women’s Quest’s adventures/retreats changed over time?

Colleen Cannon: I learned meditation from Deepak Chopra, and John Douillard and Jay Wilson and I used those skills and we incorporated them into our wellness adventure retreats. We also did lots of Louise Hay visualizations in the early days because she was also a mentor.

We trained the correct way because Dr. Phil Maffetone was my coach and he said you should be healthy as well as fit and that healthy was balancing the body, mind, and spirit. 

I also like to do the Heart’s Desire or find out what women want to do in their lives or their passions and to follow their hearts.


When you gain your energy back then you have the energy to dream and get clear on what you want and then your goals.

So, I incorporated all of this into the retreats. The same concepts are at each retreat but we go to different spots around the world.

EquuStyle: Is a certain level of horseback riding experience required to go on one of the two Icelandic adventures?

Colleen Cannon: Beginners to advanced riders

EquuStyle: What are some of the highlights of the upcoming horseback riding adventures to Iceland this summer?

Colleen Cannon:  The water. We go into all the hot springs, swimming and soaking. The horses. You must be an advanced rider for the advanced trip or you can also be intermediate but I talk to each person to make sure they can ride with the herd. Riding with the herd is a HUGE HIGHLIGHT. Fairies are one of my highlights. 

The first trip in July we do horse connection, riding, equine-assisted coaching and IFS therapy with the horses. We hike to waterfalls, soak in warm rivers and hot springs, swim in pristine pools, and go kayaking – all while finding our inner zen with yoga alongside a herd of Icelandic horses.”

But all the trips, we have sound healing, the FLOAT with Unnar who created the Float. 

Here is the information and she has a sauna ceremony, plus we have sound healing while we are doing the float which is like watsu.

What you most like women to know about what to expect when they go on a Women’s Quest adventure/retreat?

The adventure of a lifetime, connecting with nature, the horses, swimming and soaking in the healing waters, and being with a group of like-minded women for a week of exploring. Plus hiking in Iceland is incredible and exhilarating.

Our Iceland retreat is a bit different. 

  • We ride with the herd 

  • We go to a hot spring every night

  • We swim in the pools

  • We hike and visit waterfalls

  • We visit a wool lady who tells us about how she gets the colors from Icelandic Herbs

  • We take an herb walk with Anna Rosa skincare who does amazing skin care made out of Icelandic herbs. 

  • We do sound healing with gongs and yoga each day + centered riding and the new trip with have Horse Connection work with IFS therapy instructor 

  • We spend time in and with the herd

  • We also do a FLOAT with Unnar called Flotheta.. so, so cool and they float us in the hot spring so it is like watsu (a form of aquatic bodywork used for deep relaxation and passive aquatic therapy) plus they play tuning forks

  • We also have music because that is so big in Iceland

  • We have great food that is made by Betta.

Experience the feeling of riding an Icelandic horse through a field of lupine flowers!

Testimonial from Kathleen Burke: Riding horses in Iceland with Women’s Quest is an amazing and transformational experience. Colleen created an environment where I felt safe doing challenging things. As a result I rediscovered joy, strength and trust in myself. All while seeing the natural beauty of Iceland and bonding with the amazing Icelandic horses and a wonderful group of women. A trip of a lifetime! Highly recommend!

To learn more about Colleen Cannon's journey with horses, read her recent blog post


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