Monday, September 30, 2013

Blessi has a Coat of Arms and a Motto

About a year ago, Blessi and I moved to a new boarding stable that has never had an Icelandic before.  Blessi is doing well there and the owners and other boarders really like Blessi.  In fact, 24 hours after I moved him to the new stable, I went back to check on him and Rena,the owner,  told me that if I ever leave, Blessi has to stay--they are going to adopt him.

Well Icelandics are smart and they are opportunistic.  Not long after moving in to the new stable, Rena told me that she and her husband were having lunch in the kitchen.  They looked out their French doors and saw Blessi grazing right by their deck--note that is not his pasture.  The electricity for the pastures went out  and Blessi noticed the golden opportunity.

It turns out that there is a lower gate that consists of two wires attached to the "bicycle" handles.  I didn't even notice the gate but Blessi did.  He undid the lower wire and then ducked under the upper wire.  What
is impressive about this is that he associated the "bicycle" handles with "gate."  Blessi has never been taken in or out of the pasture at this area.  When Rena went to fetch him with a halter and lead rope, he led her on a merry chase around the yard until she thought to get some grain.  Luckily there were no other horses in the pasture.

The stable owner analyzed Blessi's personality.  She said that his personality is described by the expression "I can so I will" and that he should have a sign on his door with that phrase.  I thought that would be cooler in Latin, which per the online translator is:

"Possum sic ego."

This could be the motto of many an Icelandic horse.  So Blessi now has his own coat of arms complete with motto.  Rena has a sense of humor and they still want to adopt Blessi--I think.

Note:  The horse artwork in the center is not a very good representation of an Icelandic but the image was in the public domain.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Of Horses and Men

The Icelandic Film and TV Academy selected  Hross í oss (Of Horses and Men) as Iceland's entry as Best Foreign Language film category for the 2014 Oscars.  Directed by Benedikt Erlingsson, the movie is about the importance of the horse in the life of Icelandic country side in 1970s with themes of romance, daily living, friendships, and rivalries. 


Due to a stallion acting like a stallion in the official trailer below, this clip is not recommended for children.  So parents, please preview!

Alana Odegard of Icelandic Review On-Line reviewed the film.  Highlights from her review include:
"...the movie was about what has always been close to Icelanders: horses and nature. However, Hross í oss is no ordinary horse and nature film, but rather a keyhole peep into Iceland’s past...

Hross í oss masterfully weaves together parables; negative passion, such as breach of peace, drunkenness or vengefulness are punished, the positive passion finds reward. The film also describes the experiences of two foreigners, deeply touching as acts of initiation, although they could hardly be more different from each other..

Horses are everywhere in this movie. Strong and fast, life-giving, overwhelmingly wild and yet tender, and always at people’s side, up to the last breath. In the static nature shots horses are the moving elements. They move people. They move the soul. At the same time they are the stationary element, as if to indicate, “why are you going mad?” They represent beauty, power, and eternity in this loving story that does not condemn ugliness and weakness. "

Alana Odegard notes that although both actors and horses face danger in the film no horses were harmed during the filming due to the training of great work of the eight men led by Benedikt Líndal.

You can read the entire review at:

I look forward to seeing how "Of Horses and Men" fares at the Academies this year.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pignon Riding with Les Chevaux Islandais

And here is one of the videos of Jean-Francois Pignon, famous for his at-liberty horse act,  riding with one of the French Icelandic demo teams. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Horse Tango

Frederic Pignon and Magalie Delgado perform a magnificent tango on horseback.  Wow!  Frederic Pignon can be found riding with the Icelandic horse demo groups in France from time to time.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Icelandics in The Great American Horse Race

In 1976, 91 riders (there is some disagreement as to exact number of riders) and
a 450 support team participated in the Great American Horse Race. The race was
for 3,000 miles from Frankfort, NY, to Sacramento, CA and was scheduled to last
over 100 days. Each rider had two mounts. Vet checks were done 4 times a day.  Icelandic horses had a spectacular showing in this extreme long distance race.

Riders in the race originated from all over the US, Canada, Germany, Austria,
France, Switzerland, Iceland and Australia. Horsebreeds represented
were:"Spanish Mustang, Arabian, Morgan, Saddlebred, Standardbred, Pony of
America, Pinto, Icelandic pony, half Orlov trotter, Mule, Appaloosa, Palomino,
Thoroughbred, an Albino, Quarter Horse, Connemara pony, Paso Fino."

The winner of the race was Virl Norton, riding the mules Lord Fauntlerroy and
Lady Eloise. At the beginning of the race, Virl cautioned, "Watch the mules.
They're tougher and can take the tough terrain better than a horse," he said. He
felt his mules could match the Arabian horses at endurance because this was
going to be a long race, not a fast one.

Here's a link to an interview with Norton's son Pierce who served as general assistant during the race.

"Because about a quarter of the way into the race, in Kankakee, Illinois, Virl Norton and Leroy went out ahead of all the Arabians.  

"He’d always said that he hadn’t planned on taking the lead that early. Everyone ran their horses down a little bit sooner than he thought, I guess," Pierce says. "You know, soon as we got into the lead, there was a long way to go. But we were going in the right direction. The lead was getting longer."

And so, days before the finish, it became clear that a mule was going to win the Great American Horse Race."

A link to a 1976 Sports Illustrated article about the race.

All of the remaining top 22 places went to Arabs or Arab crosses except for :

7th Appaloossa
9th Conamarra ponies
10th mules
13th Icelandics (Johannas Hoyos)
16th Pinto/Thoroughbred
21st Icelandic (Walter Feldman)
22nd Appaloosa

Per Robyn Hood, TTouch trainer and a Canadian breeder and trainer of Icelandics ,participated as support crew during the race. As Robyn commented, "During the GAHR the organizers liked to put the Icelandics near the entry to our camping site because our horses looked so good. We fed them as much hay as they could eat and about 6 pounds of grain a day. They were very fit but not thin."

There is a book available on Amazon about the Race:

The Great American Horse Race of 1976: A Photographic Documentary by Curtis Lewis

What an interesting bit of history!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blessi and the Bells

Shannon has been riding Blessi on the trails.   There are bears in those woods so Shannon wanted some bells.  Herman the stable owner donated part of a Christmas decoration and we attached it to Blessi's saddle.  Voila!!!! An alarm system to to alert the bears.

Of course the chiming of  bells always reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Bells."  The words go so well with how Shannon and Blessi sound going merrily down the trail. (I changed the word "sledges" to "Blessi".)

"Hear the Blessi with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Blessi Bling--A True Blessi Treasure

When I first got Blessi, I wanted a constant reminder of how special he is to me.  So I had a bracelet woven from his tail hair.  Susanne Storms did the custom work and it turned out beautifully.  She was able to create two intertwined coils of hair from the different colors highlighted in his tail--pure cream and golden red.  What a treasure!!!!

Here is a link to her web site.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Serenading the Icelandic Horse

A Swiss woman, having grown up with Icelandics, goes to Icelandic to play Flutasia for the herd.  And oh, do the Icelandics respond!!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gerald Butler and Icelandic Horses--Beowulf & Grendel

Sturla Gunnarson, a Icelandic-Canadian director, filmed the move Beowulf & Grendel in Iceland. The film is based on one of the oldest works of literature "Beowulf,"  a poem written down sometime around the 8th century.  It is about the hero Beowulf of the Geats coming to aid Hrothgar, King of the Danes, who is under attack by the troll Grendel.  Gerald Butler plays Beowulf and Stellan Skarsgardplays Hrothgar.   

As Gunnarson states:
“I have been wanting to do a story that has been tied to my tribal, my ancestral, past for a long time,” says Gunnarsson.“When I started to think about [Beowulf], it just seemed to be such a great fit for me, because while it’s written in the eighth century by Anglo-Saxons, it recounts events that take place in the sixth century in a pagan Norse country, so it’s about my ancestors.”...His attraction to the material isn’t just intellectual, though. “The appeal is that it’s a great story, it’s an example of the hero myth,” he says. “Every Western you’ve ever seen is based on Beowulf — so the story itself has tremendous bones, and it really appealed to me, the idea of doing something that was kind of a ‘scary’ movie.”


The movie itself contains no computer generated effects.  The scenery and action is all real and the director tried for as realistic a historic look as possible.  One of the opening scenes of the movie of the Viking ship sailing through the ice floes in the bay is breathtaking.

Since the movie was filmed in Iceland, the Vikings ride Icelandic horses.  You get to see how the horses were used in battle and in everyday life.  Although reviews of the movie were mixed, it is fun to watch the horses tolting through the Icelandic country side.  In one interview, Gerald Butler says it was a blast to ride these horses into the sunset in one scene.  And reading the reviews of the movie is very entertaining.  Some critics display their lack of historical understanding by complaining that real Vikings didn't ride "ponies."

And the beauty of Iceland shines in this movie. The movie is filmed near Vik, located on the south central part of Iceland.  In 1991, Islands Magazine named  the local beach as one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world.   As Wendy Ord, production assistant states in her weekly blog, "Vik is a HUGE tourist area because it is one of the most beautiful places – we will shoot there on cliffs that are higher than the grand canyon…on glaciers that are currently receding and shaping the mountains as they go (yes the ice age is still here) …on mountain streams that you can drink and bath in (if you like glacier-cold water) in lava fields that go on for as far as the eye can see (from the last time a volcano erupted – about 6 years ago) LAVA when it cools leaves a landscape that is not possible —weird shapes have bubbled up, frozen and stand eerie and beautiful…Moss that is 12 inches thick grows there and now it is covered in tiny flowers that are BRIGHT florescent pink, purple and blood red… It is – spooky, but it takes your breath away .. We are shooting on BLACK sand beaches that go on un-interrupted for MILES and there is not a soul on them (except of course for the “hidden people”:-) …We will shoot in caves that are carved by wind and volcanic eruptions deep in the earth…(with holes to the surface that put beams of light down into them and that any unsuspecting animal or human could fall into –which, of course, one of our characters in the movie does)…And we will shoot (and bathe in at lunchtime) in natural swimming pools which are steaming and hot with minerals spurting up from the centre of the earth in geysers of steam. The steam drifts up from these “hot springs” and floats across the mountaintops in rivers of clouds that surround the peaks… In all of our locations – there is no (I mean NO) sign of humans. Our film is set in 500 AD when the monks from Ireland set out in tiny boats made of skin and bone and trusted the hand of God to take them somewhere – this is how Iceland was originally settled and so the people are very religious (to this day)…All of the folklore is connected back to the time of Mary – but they are not stories that you have heard…(ex. the “hidden people” are the descendents of the children that Mary did not want God to see….hmmmmm)."

The filming in Iceland was beset by disaster after disaster--from tremendous windstorms, flying rocks, a sinking ship full of stars with no life jackets, etc.  A documentary called The Wrath of Gods was made.  Check out the following link and be sure and watch minute 4 of the clip.  Over the filming of the scene, the narrator talks about hiring a crew of "specialty riders" to ride Icelandic horses up and down the beach at speed.  The horses were afraid of the huge waves so the riders tried to get them into the water.  Unfortunately, the "specialty riders" were inebriated early in the morning so the riding was truly "special."  Some of the cast and crew believed the movie was cursed.  A pagan priest "blessed" the production but suffered some broken bones in a freak accident shortly after the blessing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Blessi --Grass, Grass Everywhere Nor Any Bite to Eat

Blessi in a grass muzzle--this one is too small for
his muzzle but it was bought so I could take a picture
for an article on laminitis
Blessi and I used to live in Chester County, PA near Philadelphia, which was home to a lot of thoroughbred breeders.  Smarty Jones, the winner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby, was born in Chester County.  The typically large pastures consisted of rich grass and clover—which was like a candy store for an Icelandic horse.  By midsummer, Blessi was overweight and well on his way to obese. 
I asked advice from the local horse owners about how to deal with this potential problem and they recommended a grass muzzle.  “Just snap a grass muzzle onto Blessi’s halter. He’ll be able to get some grass through the muzzle openings but he won’t be able to vacuum up grass like he normally does.”   Rding around the country side, Blessi and I had seen a lot of thoroughbreds come trotting up to the fence to greet us—many of them contentedly wearing grass muzzles.
So to avoid the risk of founder, I started to use a grass muzzle.  Well putting something on Blessi that restricted his eating was like giving him a Rubrik’s cube to play with.  He was getting the grass muzzle off in shorter and shorter time periods.  I tried many models--muzzles attached to halters and one-piece grass muzzles, cage muzzles and sieve-type muzzles, muzzles with big holes and muzzles with little holes. I even tried adding additional metal clips—all to no avail. 
Blessi had many different ways to defeat the grass muzzle puzzle.  He would scrape the bottom of the plastic muzzle against the ground to wear a bigger hole in the bottom of the muzzle.  He would position the muzzle against a handy post or stump and rub the muzzle off.  Somehow, I never figured out how,  he undid the clips on the muzzle and removed the muzzle but left his halter on.  Once I walked into the pasture to find another horse tugging on Blessi’s grass muzzle as he was wearing it—probably because there were wisps of grass stuck in the muzzle. 
It got to the point that I was spending more time walking the large pasture looking for the muzzle than Blessi wore the muzzle.  I would find the muzzle in a different place each day—hanging off a fence, sitting on tree stump, buried in a clump of grass.  As I was searching the fields, I would find a detached grass muzzle, sometimes the muzzle-halter combination, and, occasionally, muzzle and halter in different parts of the field.  Just a note of advice to those of you who also own clever Icelandics: Never get a muzzle/halter combination in any shade of green.  And all those thoroughbreds watched me search the field while they contentedly grazed through their grass muzzles.
And the pounds kept piling on.  In desperation, I went to a local Amish harness maker for a customized grass muzzle.  The harness maker confessed he had never been asked to do custom work on a grass muzzle so I explained the situation.  After he stopped chuckling, he went to work on the design.  The muzzle had two extra levels of straps around the muzzle and an extra chin strap; it was attached to a cribbing collar. 
Blessi in the pudgey pony pasture.
I wanted to make sure that Blessi did not feel trapped or uncomfortable with the new muzzle.  I slowly introduced him to the muzzle and made sure he had no problem with it.  However, he did look like Hannibal Lecter wearing the mask in “Silence of the Lambs.”  We spent a half hour hand grazing to see if Blessi had any issues; he immediately put his head down and started vacuuming up much smaller amounts of grass—the difference between a portable hand vacuum and the industrial shop size vacuum. 
Since he was comfortable with the contraption, I led him back to his pasture.  When I turned him loose, Blessi took a dozen paces into the pasture, stopped, dropped, rolled to his back, and used his front leg to brush the muzzle off the end of his nose.  When I was done laughing, I gave up on grass muzzles and put him in the pudgy pony pasture, i.e. an almost dry lot, for the rest of the summer. He even managed to lose some weight.  Now if I can just find a pudgy pony pasture for myself.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Blessi and MacKenzie and Riding Helmets

MacKenzie is a princess in her pink helmet.
Mackenzie is my 3 ½ year old grandniece.  She lives near Harrisburg, PA and Blessi is boarded in Port Orchard, WA so the two haven’t met yet.  However, MacKenzie loves hearing about Blessi and she really wants to meet him.  In fact, she can’t understand why I won’t drive him to her house.  I tried to explain that it would take me a week to make the drive.  So MacKenzie suggested that I drive Blessi to my mother’s house instead which is only 12 miles from her house—which is closer to WA state I guess.  Her Bubba (my sister’s husband John) got her this riding helmet as soon as she expressed any interest in horses.  Their neighbors have horses so MacKenzie gets to “ride” from time to time.
I wear a riding helmet 99.99 percent of the time (sometimes I do forget to wear one).  I learned almost as soon as I got Blessi that wearing a helmet was a necessity for me since I am a Klutz, with a capital K.  I was riding Blessi with a friend through the woods.  We were merrily talking away when I rode right into a 5-inch thick tree limb.  And it was all my fault since Blessi is in charge of vertical alignment between trees and I am in charge of horizontal alignment under trees.   The impact was so hard that it left a dent in the helmet, which I had to replace.  So I ride with a helmet.
Wearing a riding helmet is a personal choice for everyone.  But here are some facts about head injuries while riding: "JAMA, April 10, 1996, vol 275, no 14, p. 1072
Synopsis: During 1992-93 in Oklahoma, horseback riding was the leading cause of sports-related head injury, (109 of 9409 injuries or 1.2% associated with riding and 23 additional injuries attributable to horses) Of the 109, there were 3 deaths (3%). The injury statistics were:
- males 55, female 54
- age range 3 yr to 71 yrs, median 30 yrs
- most commonly seen in spring and summer
- 48% occurred on Saturday or Sunday
- 95% involved riders who struck their heads on the ground or a nearby object after falling from the horse
- 4% were kicked or rolled on after falling from the horse
- 1% hit head on a pole while riding and fell to the ground
- 90% were associated with recreational activities
- 10% were work-related
- 107 were hospitalized with a median LOS of 2 days
- 79% had one or more indicators of a severe brain injury, including
1. loss of consciousness 63%
2. posttraumatic amnesia 46%
3. persistent neurologic sequelae 13% (seizures, cognitive/vision/speech deficits, motor impairment)

Journal of Trauma 1997 July; 43(1):97-99
Synopsis: Thirty million Americans ride horses and 50,000 are treated in Emergency Departments annually. Neurologic injuries constitute the majority of severe injuries and fatalities. A prospective study of all patients admitted to the University of Kentucky Medical Center with equine-related trauma
from July 1992 - January 1996 showed the following:
- 24 patients (80%) were not wearing helmets, including all fatalities and craniotomy patients"
So MacKenzie, give Bubba John a big hug for getting you that helmet!  I love you too!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Blessi and the Doughnut Effect

My instructor Dannelle rode Blessi in his first dressage show of this year. Some friends and I attended with our non-traditional “dressage” horses—two Paints and an Icelandic. Since this was an all-day event, we brought items to share for lunch. I supplied iced tea, bottled water, and doughnuts.
The first class--Training Level 1--was won by a very talented Hungarian warm blood mare whose dressage trainer/owner is working the mare up the levels to compete at regional or higher Prix St. George level. It was a joy to watch this talented pair go through the dressage movements. Blessi and Dannelle and the other dressage trainer and his warmblood both scored 63.333, which was a tie for second place. Actual ranking during a tie is decided by some quirky dressage rule and Blessi and Dannelle ended up with third place—not bad at all.
What the box looked like
Reconstruction the next day
We left to check for scores. The horses were tied at the trailer and somebody was supposed to keep an eye on them. We returned to find that an animal had gotten into the doughnuts and eaten the ten that remained. No harm done. Except just a few minutes later we found out that the “animal” was Blessi. He had untied himself from the trailer and eaten the doughnuts and the three apples that my friend had brought as post show treats for the horses. My friend’s husband found Blessi cleaning up the icing in the box and re-tied him to the trailer.

Blessi ate the bear claws, the pink iced doughnuts with sprinkles, the cream filled doughnuts, the chocolate iced doughnuts, and the plain cake doughnuts. Blessi has never met a doughnut—or cookie, carrot, or peppermint-- that he doesn’t like.

Blessi looked a little uncomfortable but did not seem to be suffering otherwise so Dannelle rode him in his second test. Well overall the scores were not good. It must have been like trying to run a marathon right after eating Thanksgiving dinner. I did notice some distinctive differences in the scores between test 1 and test 2—something I am labeling the Doughnut Effect.
A sugar high does create animation. During the second test, Blessi managed to achieve an 8 on his free walk. Normally he scores a 6 on this movement. Judges usually note that he is relaxed but “lacks impulsion.” He also upped his final movement “Down centerline, halt, salute” to a 7, which goes to prove that it takes impulsion to get a good halt. However, any movement involving a canter dropped from a 6 to a 4 or 5. Dannelle has been working to develop more of a 3-beat canter with Blessi but Blessi’s sugar high turned his canter back into a 4-beat, rushed affair.
So my challenge is to determine how many doughnuts we need to feed Blessi to animate his free walk yet not impact his canter. Obviously this is less than ten but more than one (Note: this is a joke—I don’t advocate more that a small bite of a doughnut for a horse). By the way both Paints and their riders also did well at this event. Luckily the sandwiches and fruit were stored at another trailer so the humans were able to have lunch. Oh, and Blessi seems to have a cast iron stomach because he has suffered no ill effects from his doughnut binge.
I wasn’t able to capture any video of Blessi’s escape and self-indulgence. However, somebody threw the doughnut box in my truck when we packed up and I was able to re-stage the event (with box but no doughnuts) back at the home stable.

And here is a picture of Blessi sleeping off his doughnut binge on the day after the show.

Before I created the Blessi Blog, I shared this story with Stacey Kimmel, who writes the highly recommended blog Behind the Bit. Stacey was kind enough to put this story on her blog but did some edits that made the story even better--she introduced the idea of the doughnut effect as a scientific study. Please check out Stacey's blog!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sort of Collected Canter

It is hard for Blessi to perform a true collected canter--although some Icelandics have a beautiful 3-beat canter.  Here is his progress so far.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blessi Stretchy Trot

When I filmed Shannon and Blessi working on stretchy trot, I missed the first part of the work when Blessi had his head lower and his back up.  You can see a bit of that at the first part of this video.  Blessi loves stretchy walk and stretchy trot.  He likes to stretch out those back muscles.  Shannon is doing a great job with Blessi.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Blessi Extended Trot

Here is Blessi's progress in extended trot.  When Shannon first worked with him, Blessi's extended trot was just a fast, fast trot.  After a few ride, his "extended trot" is sort of, kind of, maybe, by an inch extended.  The warmbloods at the local dressage events have nothing to worry about from Blessi--for now.  ;-)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Blessi Shoulder In

From time to time, Blessi gets some dressage lessons.  He is far more advanced than I am at the sport.  Here is Shannon, a Grand Prix rider, working on developing Blessi's shoulder in.  Blessi finds such lateral work easier than performing a collected canter.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Equine Legal Issues--registration

Rachel McCart is the owner of Equine Legal Solutions, located in Oregon state. Her firm specializes in legal actions around horse ownership.   Rachel has ridden horses all her life and currently rides in three-day events.   She blogs about the legal issues revolving around equines such as misrepresenting a horse, slander, abandoned horses--even book reviews on equine topics.

Rachel has written several posts about horse registration papers.  Having a horse's registration papers is not the equivalent of legal ownership of the horse.  The registration with the breed registry may not have been updated for many reasons.  However, Rachel McCart provides an excellent reason for getting the registration updated in your name as soon as you buy the horse.

Who owns the horse if breed
registration is not transferred?
"As a result, registration papers provide a presumption of who the legal owner of a horse is, but that presumption can be easily overcome. Here's a common horse ownership dispute fact pattern. Betty Buyer buys a horse from Sam Seller. The horse is registered with a breed association. The registration papers show Sally Salesman as the horse's owner but two years ago, Sally sold the horse to Sam. Sam fulfilled all of his obligations under the purchase agreement he had with Sally. At the time of sale, Sam explains to Betty that Sam purchased the horse from Sally, but never transferred the horse into Sam's name, and gives her the original registration papers and a transfer form signed by Sally. Before Betty sends in the transfer form, Sally (who is angry when she finds out Sam resold the horse to Betty) obtains duplicate papers from the breed registry and claims to be the owner of the horse, making Betty's life miserable and preventing her from registering the horse in her name. Frustrated because she can't show the horse at registry-sanctioned shows until she gets it registered in her name, Betty sues Sally, seeking a declaratory judgment that she owns the horse. Betty will almost certainly win her case, because even though the horse may be registered in Sally's name and Sally may have a set of original registration papers, Betty can show the purchase contracts and proof of payment evidencing her superior claim of legal ownership, which trumps Sally's registered ownership in this situation. Note that Betty could have avoided this legal hassle by immediately registering the horse in her name, however!"


This is really good reason for updating the registry papers with the USIHC if you buy an Icelandic horse.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Another visit to Elska Island

Simon Caubet put together this video of his trip to Iceland.  He has layered some amazing footage of Reykavik and the countryside.  You can image spiritsand trolls such as "gnawer of the moon" and "destroyer of the storm-sun" still living just right beyond our senses in the waterfalls and rocks of Iceland.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Island of Elska

I was looking for a videos about Icelandic horses for Blessi blog when I found this video.  This Elska is a musician for children and lives on a recently formed volcanic island off the coast of Iceland.  This video explains how to say Hello on the island of Elska.  Imagine an Icelandic version of Teletubbies (although Elska herself is from the East Coast of the US) populated with artic foxes, shooshis, nunnis, winter bears, and gooblers. Elska sometimes visits the Land of Lost Socks (so that's where all my missing socks went!)   Elska definitely needs an Icelandic pony on her island. 

Here is a link to her website.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New World Record in Flying Pace

Albin Klintberg rode the Icelandic horse Nitro to set a new flying pace speed record of 21.84 seconds per 250 meters in a 2012 P1 competition. I think it is around 25.6 miles per hour.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Blessi Explains How to Do Equine Massage

Blessi is an honorary Tennessee Walker.  A few years ago, Blessi and I attended a play day set up by the Pleasure Walkers Club of Washington.   I had to leave early but left Blessi for some of the club members to ride in the afternoon games.  At the end of the day, Blessi was invited to join the club--I still think I was an afterthought on the invitation.

The club set up a "Learn Equine Massage" clinic taught by Ashley Bowen, Stride N' Balance Massage for Horse and Rider.  Ashley asked if the club would provide a horse that a) had been through equine massage before, b) was good with a whole bunch of people standing around, and c) would permit several people to work on him at once.  And like just about any time somebody comes up with a strange idea for a horse activity, Blessi gets volunteered.  Actually, Ashley had worked on Blessi before and he likes both Ashley and massage so he was a good choice--mostly--as you shall see. 

So the day of the clinic arrives and Ashley starts demonstrating how to massage an equine.  Everything is going well until Blessi decides to provide commentary.  When Ashley concentrates on the massage, Blessi lifts his upper lip and "Smiles" or makes a face.  

As soon as Ashley looks at his head and addresses the audience, Blessi stops the behavior.  Within minutes, Blessi has the audience in stitches.  Ashley thinks she is very witty.  She never catches Blessi as he continues to provide commentary behind her back. 

The Club President forwarded pictures to Ashley the next day and explained what happened.  Ashley now uses those pictures on her business card.  Oh, and I have Ashely to thank for "carrot stretches."  She showed the audience how you can use carrots to get your horse to stretch to either side or make a bow to stretch out those neck muscles.  Blessi thinks earning a carrot is a wonderful thing.  When bored, he will start doing carrot stretches and bows unprompted.  This unusual behavior has provided some interesting moments in subsequent non-massage clinics.

Let me make a personal testimony.  Ashely really knows her stuff.  Blessi took a tumble one time in the arena.  He was playing like a colt and made a sudden turn in some uncertain footing and went down.  He got up and continued to play but the next day he had a weird limp.  I had the vet out and he could not pinpoint a cause but suggested pasture rest.  A few weeks later, Blessi was still limping so I had Ashley come out.  She led him limping into the stall for a massage and led him out an hour later limp free.  He had pulled some sort of muscle during his tumble but had gotten used to holding his neck and back in an out-of-balanced way.  Ashley was able to make the adjustment and get him back to normal.

Ashley Bowen's business card