Monday, December 12, 2011

Blessi and Icelandic Horse Character

Rena, who owns the stable where I board Blessi, gave me the following card.  She says the cartoon face looks just like Blessi and I totally agree with her.  But you can judge for yourself by comparing the cartoon Blessi to the real Blessi. 

And Blessi is certainly a "character" in the definition of "a person who is odd, different, or eccentric."  Which brings up the question, what is the character of the Icelandic horse.

Per the International Icelandic breeding standards, the Icelandic horse at its best “should be very willing, brave, happy, cheerful, confident and offering its best with very little encouragement. The horse tries to please the rider and is sensible and easy to handle.” (pg., e-19)
Source: Antonsson, G., Siiger Hansen, J., Grimm, M. eds. (2011) FEIF Rules for Icelandic Horse Breeding FEIF International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations.  Found on September 23, 2011 at

However everybody has a different definition of “willingness”—what should be the balance between “forwardness” versus “mangeability.”   As Bjőrnsson, G., & Sveinsson state, “Horsemen do not see eye to eye about willingness,  and everyone has his own requirements.  Some are not satisfied with willingness and want vigour—but from vigour to loss of manageability can sometimes be a short step.  Judging of breeding horses and gæđingar often have a difficult job giving scores for this difficult feature”  (p. 154). 
Source: Bjőrnsson, G., & Sveinsson, H.  (2006).  The Icelandic Horse, Edda Publishing, Reykjavik, Iceland.
Yes the Icelandic is a sweet faced, “brave, happy, cheerful, confident” little horse but there is fire in his soul.  And there is considerable differences among Icelandic horses as to “willingness” and “forwardness.” And training may impact the balance between the two characteristics also.  The Icelandic as a breed is not a children’s horse (although some are very suited for children.)  Don’t mistake the cartoon for the real horse.  If you are thinking about getting an Icelandic horse, be sure to have a frank discussion with the seller about how he or she defines “willingness.”


MegF said...

The Peruvian Paso breed has a term that seems similar in meaning: brio. Should be controlled energy.

Blessiowner said...

That is an excellent term for what the breed standards seem to want. Me personally, I am into the "controlled" part of the "controlled energy." ;-)

How much energy do you want with your horse?