It's been one year since I have purchased my icelandic ponies. Things started off rough. Stjarni was green and so was I. The saying is green on green equals black and blue. Thanks to a great trainer and natural horsemanship, I have learned a whole new way of being around horses. I've not only gained new skills, but gained confidence. I've learned never to give up, be patient, and respect my horse. I've got a lot more to learn, but I welcome the journey.
Information from the owner about the two geldings, Trausti (chestnut) and Dreki (palomino), located in northern Colorado:
Gelding, born April 10, 1992. Sorrel chestnut. No white markings. 13h Out of Logi fra Icelandic Horse Farm -309- and Loa -312- Has Canadian Icelandic Horse Federation papers.
4-gaited though very rusty in tolt.
He is very smart. Likes to think of ways to get food and not do much work for it. Unafraid of almost anything. Good on trails. Loves people and is quite the socialite. He ties, trailers, and is wonderful as long as he has a firm hand that demands respect from him.
He has been deemed "sound" by my veterinarian. However, he foundered in May of 2001. He was grass hay fed on dry-lot when it happened, and my vet could not find any reason why he should have foundered, but he did. So, although he is "sound," my vet cautioned that we should be careful not to "over do it" with him. It took about 4 years to get him back to trail worthy condition again.
He has been somewhat heavy on the forehand since the founder. This is partially why his tolt is rusty. We haven't really asked him to.
Dreki fra Lone Rock US94100566:
Gelding born June 12, 1994. Palomino About 13h Out of Logi fra Icelandic Horse Farm M8400326 and Sunna fra Fitjamyri US88200361 I have his US United Icelandic Horse Congress Certificate of Registration.
5-gaited with tendency towards pace.
Dreki was very frightened when we got him. We made some progress and he halters nicely where as when we got him he would run away. He was terribly head shy when we got him, but now he comes to me for scratching. And, that is about as far as we have gotten with him.
He likes to be groomed, but is still very cautions even after all these years.
About 1.5 years after we got him, my husband sustained a devastating spinal injury. It took 4.5 years before I was able to turn my attention back to Dreki. I tried working with him, but each day was as though we were starting from the beginning again.
I contacted a trainer and he was in training for about 6 weeks with the assurances that he would be a wonderful riding horse when we got him back "no problem." Well... Dreki came back and was in some ways a little better and in some ways a little worse. The trainer told me that he would need at least 3 more months to be able to get anywhere with him, because it was "like starting over with him every day!" I didn't have the funds for it, so we did what we could here at home.
One day, I got an offer from a woman who has "rescued" a "problem icey" with a reputation for being "dangerous." She has done an amazing job with this little horse and is even able to give local kids pony rides on him. She has also had good success with mustangs, and she offered to take Dreki and train him. I told her to take him for as long as she wanted and train him. She called me 3 weeks later and said he had to be returned because "he would not progress". He would be longing nicely one day, and the next he would be in a complete panic at the sight of the longe line. She did not feel that she would be able to get anywhere with him. So, he came back and we have worked with him as best we could, but never really gotten past his seemingly illogical "panic" outbursts.
That said, he has never tried to deliberately hurt anyone. He is a sweet guy who really needs someone who understands how he thinks and who can help him through whatever it is he fears.
Please email me at iceryder at gmail.com for owner's contact information.
Description by the owner from The Netherlands: Listi is an Icelandic horse who is hypersensitive and very quickly stressed. In this video an impression of his training in hand and riding, in which we try to get him more relaxed every day.
Iceland likes to think of the Icelandic Horse as a "natural horse", one that is able to be left out in the pastures 24 / 7, raised in the herds with little interference.
This is fine, but what happens when the horses are then introduced to their riding careers?
Shoes are nailed on; boots are put in place on the fetlocks; icelandic-style saddles (which may be unbalanced / uncentered, too long, and / or too narrow) are put on; jointed snaffles are put in the mouth; and the mouth tightened by a noseband; rider sits to the weaker part of the horse's back; puts his weight on the reins and the mechanics of the snaffle come into play; and the whip is there for... whatever reason. The horse is held in frame, ventroflexed, and fighting the bit.
Pretty picture? NOT!
But this is what is taught at the icelandic-style riding schools, by the icelandic-style trained trainers, and supported in the show ring.
How natural is this?
Can't we take some inspiration from the Indians who worked *with* their natural horses, and took the time to ride *with* the horse and not against the horse?
Icelandic Horses fall through ice. Sometimes people do really dumb stuff.
"This is a video from animal planets "Uncut & Untamed". As a horse lover I find it amazing that all these riders would risk riding there horses on a frozen lake without checking to see how thick the ice is. I feel so sorry that those poor horses had to go through that ordeal & thank God the iceman jumped in to save them. What a courageous man."
The recent video (the first below) of Hvinur frá Holtsmúla is creating quite a stir. (The second video is about six months earlier. The third video shows a tolt clinic by Joi and Hvinur in 2005.)
Are Icelandic Horse judges rewarding bad conformation, bad gaits, lameness, and poor riding? Is this what makes a "world champion"?
Some people say this horse is obviously lame. (See the section of the first video, around 1:30 where he starts walking and then goes to turn to reverse direction.)
The horse is fighting the bit the whole time, which should be addressed. Is the bit wrong for the horse's mouth? Is the contact too much? Is the horse being held in a frame that doesn't agree with him? Are the glands in the throat latch area being compressed to a painful problem for him?
The horse's tail, obviously for years, has been wringing. Has anyone asked him "why"?
Additionally, the horse's legs show marked winging. This much winging can be caused by incorrect conformation. It can be exacerbated by weights on the distal limb, or other means that create extreme animation.
Is fighting the bit required to get an Icelandic Horse to tolt? For years we've seen the Icelandic Horses fighting the bit. Some people would say that the horses were tossing their heads because of the excitement in the competitions. But we see the same thing when a rider is alone with a horse.
Is the jointed snaffle causing the horse problems with his mouth? Is the heavy contact causing the problems? Or a combination of both?
Why does the horse have to be held so tightly with a bit that bothers him, to get him to tolt?
Academia Liberti official video. Academia Liberti specilises in educating equines at liberty in species appropriate living conditions without coersion or psychological manipulation. The academy relationship is based on friendship and equality between horse and human.
This is a Level 3 Parelli Natural Horsemanship video with a gaited horse, Paso Fino breed. It should be easy for the Icelandic Horses to attain this level of horsemanship.
Challenge to Icelandic Horse riders, owners, trainers, and Holar students and graduates, and any certified and / or professional Icelandic Horse trainer! Can you do this? Can you train and ride your Icelandic Horse without a bit? without a noseband? without weights? without whips?
Can you learn to train and ride a horse naturally?
A gal from Iceland sent this link, and follows is a response:
Yes, those are nice pictues. I think the challenge is not to ride bridleless for a little time to get photos, but to change the whole style of riding to be more friendly to the horse. In a video of the same rider, her horse is fighting the bit and showing displeasure in every gait. Hopefully, this will change for the better. Here is the video:
This horse has an unhappy mouth, indicated by opening the mouth against the bit and the head tossing and tipping at odd angles.
It can be called by several different names: fighting the bit, fighting the hand, resisting the hand, resisting the contact. All of it means a problem for the horse, and he is trying to communicate that to the rider.
It could be a problem with the bit not fitting, the mechanics of the bit not appropriate for the job, the noseband interfering, or the heavy contact.
In addition to the video below, how about the horses in these videos:
I've received a bunch of interesting mail in the past several weeks. For the most part, it is from people who are switching from icelandic-style training and riding to good horsemanship and relationship-type training.
One of the messages that I received was from a gal in Iceland who said that she wanted to ride her horse bitless, but had no idea how to start, and how could she stop her horse from running away if he didn't have a bit.
Knowing the problem areas that icelandic-style training brings to some horses, I suggested that she choose a calm, quiet horse, one that hadn't been forced into a frame or forced to run, run, run. And start with some clicker training, doing some of the PNH 7 games, and wait until she felt that she and the horse had a good two-way communication before trying to ride bitless (make that the end goal, but enjoy the journey in the meantime).
I suggested that my horse makes a pro-active choice to allow me to use her legs, and to go "with" me, not to run away from me when I'm on her, because of the relationship we've built and the type of training that we use.
A few days later she wrote back that she didn't have the type of Icelandic Horse that I mentioned, her horse was somewhat nervous, but she wanted to try bitless anyway. She did; he ran away.
Bummer. But it seems that she is willing to continue with clicker training and natural horsemanship, so I hope that she has some success.
It can be difficult to try to describe a new paradigm to someone who is interested in making a change. It may not be an easy paradigm to grasp. A lot of it doesn't actually have to do with *actual* training. We're not running a horse around a round pen. It's hard to pinpoint... there's something more... something intangible... it's a whole 'nother thing. It takes time, patience, dedication, and maybe an "extra sense".
Maybe it's more on the mental / emotional side than actual physical work.
Another blog has an article called "What Is Attraction?" (the article is in regard to training).
One of the definitions given is: A force acting mutually between particles of matter, tending to draw them together, and resisting their separation.
I think that's how I would describe how I want my relationship with my horse, especially when riding.
Perhaps the article can help owners to get that special feeling / connection with their horse so that the reins aren't necessary to "control" the horse.
In any case, for those who are interested in finding this type of relationship with a horse, I think that Icelandic Horses can be very special in this area. Not the nervous ones, or maybe not the ones who have been trained to "run, run, run". But the naturally calm and willing Icelandic Horse who is searching to make a special connection with a human.
It's about the relationship. Not about control, or who is the boss.
The Sensation saddle works well for Icelandic Horses: http://iceryder.net/sensation.html (we don't sell the saddles, it is a link to the manufacturer, along with other pictures of the different models).
We have just started a sidepull picture "contest". Susan is sending one of her new sidepulls out to one of our IceHorses listees, and that person will send it on to the next person in line who wants to try it, and the sidepull will continue on it's path.
The people who are trying the sidepull are taking pictures, sending them to the IceHorses list, to see who's horse looks better in the sidepull :-).
The interior of the Icelandic Horse's mouth generally has a low palate and sensitive bars. It is beneficial to start them with sidepulls, lindells, bosals, hackamores, rope halters, regular halters, or any other bitless configuration that is not severe.
Young horses have many changes going on in their mouths until they are mature adults. Teeth are still coming and going for a while. Training bitless saves them from discomfort from the bit.
The horse should be trained with emphasis on relaxation; no tension on the reins, so that the horse can relax his head and neck.
This is a good video of bridleless riding of an Icelandic Horse. There is no fighting of the bit. The horse holds his head where he *needs* to, for his freedom, balance, suppleness, as well as function.