Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fighting the Bit

In the video, the horse has his mouth open at times.

An Icelandic Horse should have no reason to open his mouth while being ridden. Horses are nostril breathers. Opening the mouth can indicate problems / pain from the bit, noseband, heavy contact, etc.

If the horse is fighting the bit, what should be done? whose responsibility is it to be sure that the horse is comfortable in his job?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Natural Gait or Not

If the Icelandic Horse has to be pulled, with heavy contact that stretches his lips to absolute intolerance, trying to get away from the pain by opening his mouth; and being forced into an unnatural inverted, ventroflexed frame, is the gait of "tolt" natural to him?

The use of increasingly severe bits, as well as severe tight nosebands, is shocking.

Click onto the image to see a larger version.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lee Ziegler, Easy Gaited Horses

Easy Gaited Horses, a book for gaited horse enthusiasts, by Lee Ziegler, which describes the easy gaits.

Lee Ziegler, Easy Gaited Horses

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mechanical Aids

Not all Icelandic Horses tolt (which is a one-foot / two-foot support, even four-beat, lateral gait, of speed, where the horse is ventroflexed, and downhill).

Icelandic Horses can offer several different easy gaits at liberty, such as the fox trot, running walk, stepping pace, etc., as well as the saddle rack; or may not offer any easy gait at liberty.

Tolt can be manufactured by mechanical means, some of which include:

[] Saddles, the tight narrow icelandic saddles, possibly with extended bars, brida-style.

[] Bits, snaffles, icelandic, pessoas, anything that doesn't fit the horse and makes him high-headed or tense.

[] Tight nosebands

[] Severe bits combined with severe nosebands

[] Icelandic shoes, or heavier than normal shoes, or unequally weighted shoes

[] Boots; double pairs of boots

[] Straps on the hoof

[] Whips

[] Heavy contact, leaning on the horse's mouth, obvious muscular strength pulling on reins

[] Sitting on the back of the saddle

[] Extreme ventroflexion

[] Extreme high-headedness

[] Ewe Necks

[] Long toes; contracted heels

[] Concussive practices

Some of these things are used in, or in training preparation for evaluations and competitions.

Gaits made by mechanical means invalidates the potential value of evaluation breeding scores.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Icelandic Horses Wrinkles

The wrinkles of Icelandic Horses tell us what is happening with them. They are an indication that the horse is in an unnatural frame. The wrinkles around the throatlatch indicate the head is being crammed into the neck at an odd angle.

The wrinkles around the withers indicate that the horse's neck is being inverted, the base of the neck is being lowered, and the neck is crammed into an unnatural position.

Wrinkles can also be caused by a poorly fitting saddle.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What Gait / Fakur

This is a nice older black imported Icelandic Horse gelding. What gait(s) is he doing?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Change for the Icelandic Horse

We are at a point of great change within the Icelandic Horse breed. We have reached the cross roads; one going down the path of mechanical devices and manufactured gaits, and one leading to natural horsemanship and natural gaits.

Which path will you take? It may be a hard decision for some. For many people, it will involve change.

Are you afraid of change?

We are creatures of habit. People generally *like* status quo. Humans are made to recognize familiar objects and experiences. That's the logic of our brains. We can use a minimum of brain power to function with "familiar" things, rules, and order, which can be taken care of subconsciously. That leaves conscious brain power to deal with "different" or new things.

Sometimes "different" can be perceived as "dangerous" or disconcerting. Just part of the human makeup... leaving the comfort zone. The level of danger can be based on if you are isolated, alone, or the size of your companion group. Higher danger is in smaller groups or for the isolated human.

The tendency is that outgoing, confident people are more willing to consider and accept change, and move towards making changes more easily.

Change involves work. It's not easy, and it takes time, energy and effort. This explains why most people loathe change. Change can be viewed as opportunity or threat.

What some people see as a benefit can stress out others. Most people have a natural curiosity about change but at the same time, can be spooked by it. There are people at the low end of tolerance of change and at the other, the confidant ones, who love it.

"It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit from the old order and only luke warm defenders in all those who would profit from the new order. This is partly due to the incredulity of man who do not truly believe anything new until they experience it."
~~Quote from the Italian Machiavelli delivered in 15th Century.

There are four distinct phases of change: denial, resistance, exploration, commitment.

These can be broken down into seven phases: shock and surprise, denial and refusal, rational understanding, emotional acceptance, learning and practicing, realization, and integration.

Most people look at change in a negative way. For them, change may mean learning new things, increased pressure, potential loss of position, fear of the unknown, or even a challenge to their personal beliefs or way of doing things.

Six reasons for fear of change:

1. Fear of the Unknown
2. Self Doubt; Afraid of Losing
3. Self Isolation and Agonize Over Decisions
4. Forget That We Always Have Options
5. Focus on the External World to Define Our Identity and Worth
6. Handcuff Ourself to Stuff

In each generation there are a few individuals or a group who step from the old patterns and push the boundaries of current limiting beliefs and structure.


We are standing up for the Icelandic Horse, and insisting on improved training methods.

Some individuals will never be change makers, but kudos to those who are, as that's how we progress and how we reach higher levels in our society.

People like to hang on to the familiar, even if the change will be beneficial, something "different" is harder to accept or deal with. The denial and refusal stage also includes "hanging on"... hanging on to the old, familiar way, resisting the new. Change can disrupt work patterns and teamwork.

The middle part of the process of change is "letting go"... letting go of the old ways. A successful "letting go" includes confidence that the new way will be more personally beneficial and for the greater good for the whole. This is where there is a willingness to consider change.

Active acceptance, the final step in positive change, is mental and emotional acceptance and implementation of change. People learn, practice, and exercise; the more positive responses they get (correct answers), the more vested in the new changes.

You do not have to be afraid of change!


We are the Change Makers who are making things better for the Icelandic Horse; moving away from mechanical devices and manufactured gaits, over to natural horsemanship and natural gaits.

Which do you value? Blue ribbons? ego? winning? or fairness, empathy, two-way communication with, and consideration for, your horse?

Read the Change Maker: