Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Blessi's Cholesterol Level

Cholesterol molecule--Wikipedia
Recently the vet did a blood profile workup on Blessi as a general wellness check.  Believe it or not Blessi
will be 20 in 2016.  Great news!  Blessi's blood work results were all normal.

Four results were out of the typical range for horses but the vet no worries.  Of course I decided to do some research so I thought I would share them with you.

Blessi's cholesterol is low.  Frankly I didn't even know cholesterol was an important measurement for horses.  Blessi's score was 64; the normal range is 75 to 130 for horses.

High cholesterol can be an issue for horses; just like for humans.  Extremely low cholesterol can be an indicator of impaired liver function.  Interestingly, a research article published in the  1979 Journal of Equine Medicine on cholesterol level by equine breed indicated that Fjords and donkeys tended to have lower cholesterol levels than other breeds.  Icelandics and Fjords share a genetic heritage so that may be a contributing factor.

Also Blessi gets a 1/4 cup of whole oats mixed with his supplements each day (mainly to ensure he cleans up every morsel of supplement).  Studies on horses and humans have shown that eating oats can help lower cholesterol.  Of course Blessi gets such a minuscule amount that this may have no impact on his cholesterol level.

So Blessi has inspired  my New Years Resolution--lower my cholesterol in 2016.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Something Icelandics are Really Good At--even in Australia

And here is something Icelandics are really good at compared with other breeds.  Logur wins the distance call challenge for food in David Lichman Course Victoria Australia.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

What do cats think about at Christmas

Let's let the cats explain their viewpoint in the following video. One of my favorite parts is the "special human catnitp.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

How to gift wrap a Gypsy Vanner for Christmas

You can call this whimsy or you can call it bomb proofing, either way it is a testament to the temperament of the Gypsy Vanner breed.  Happy Holidays!

Santa's elf, per the video description, states that it takes " 3 acres of wrapping paper and half a mile of sellotape" to gift wrap a horse.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Behind the Scenes of Dogs Making Toys for Santa

Freshpet Pet Food contributes to animal charities each year.  They put together the awesome video Santa Claus Workshop show in an earlier posting.  Here is a behind the scenes look.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Who Really Makes Santa's Toys

Now we know why some of Santa's toys break a little easier than others--unskilled labor.  Not to mention cats who try to sabotage the process.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Holidays I still want a pony for Christmas

I love this song by Don Bodin.  How many children want a pony for Christmas.   I think I will annoy my Mom and send the link to her since Santa never brought me a pony for Christmas.  I had to get Blessi by myself.  Hum some unresolved childhood issues here?.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Jingle Bells Jingle Bells Minis All the Way

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have been experiencing a lot of raining days.  Just to get you in the mood for Christmas, here is some fun you can have with driving minis through fresh snow.  Doesn't the one driver in the funky hat look a bit like  Radagast the Brown from the Hobbit movies.  Instead of using rabbits, Radagast has switched to minis for the winter.

 Click here for link to video

Friday, December 11, 2015

Strangest horse cart I have ever seen

Have you ever wanted to surf, ride a bicycle, and drive a horse at the same time plus take your dog along?  Somebody has invented a "vehicle" to do just that.

Here is a link to the Craigslist ad in case you are interested.  More photos appear in the ad.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Icelandic Horse Joins Star Stable

Star Stable is a virtual game that originated in Sweden in which virtual girls (no male avatars) explore, have adventures, and enter competitions with their virtual horses on the imaginary island of Jorvik.  The first five levels are free.  Additonal horses can be purchased via real money or accumulated points.

The big news on the island of Jorvik this week is that girls can purchase an Icelandic horse that tolts. There seems to be a lot of interest in this "new" breed since the introductory videos have accumulated well over 100,000 views in four days.  For those of you interested in what a virtual Icelandic looks like, here a link to the introductory video.  Check out minutes 1:08 to 2:03.

I had to chuckle at the youtube comments debating whether these horses are ponies or horses.  

Here is a link to the comparison of abilities of horse breeds on the island of Jorvik. 

For those of you who have young relatives who desperately want an Icelandic horse but finances are a problem, this may be a fun way to meet that need.
Here is Northena's ride on her Icelandic as the two explore the four gaits of the Icelandic horse in Jorvik. In this video, the rider explains how to purchase an Icelandic horse in Jorvik. The animators have done a fantastic job creating Jorvik.

Here is a link to Star Stable's policy on ensuring a safe on-line environment for children.

Here is an explanation of what it costs to be a Star Rider.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Blessi and Jasper

Blessi has made friends with the new barn cat Jasper.  Blessi adores kitties.  He grooms them gently behind the ears.  While my friend Judy was taking these pictures, Jasper started to clean Blessi's eye so I think the attraction is mutual. Jasper is also discovering the joys of resting on the big, old, warm, soft Icelandic haunches.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Maintaining steady hands

There are a lot of factors involving bit and hand
position that can impact head position and gait on the horse.  Here are some general points--assuming I haven't misinterpreted something:

- type of bit
Different style bits are designed to impact the horse at up to 8 different places such as poll, bars, tongue, etc.  
- hand position/length of rein
Having hands up or hands down affects where pressure is applied depending on bit style.  A good rider knows how to use this to apply light signals to correct gait/impact head position.

- rein pressure
Magnifies impact of bit as affected by hand position/length of rein

- body position
  This goes into so many factors....Beginning riders tend to balance themselves off the reins at the trot and lock their knees which has a cascading negative impact on the horse.

One research study applied biosensors to the horse and rider to measure rein pressure, distance of hand from horse's bit, etc.  Observers noted any behavior by horse that indicated discomfort such as gaping mouth or swishing tail.  Advanced riders performed at a sitting trot.  In trying to maintain "steady" hands, the rider's right hand varied in distance from the bit from 5.1 to 18.1 inches --the left from 6.6 inches to 12.5 inches--depending on whether the horse is in the suspension phase of trot or down phase.  Subconsciously, the rider exerted more pressure on the reins on her dominant side which tended to tip the nose of the horse in that direction.

To maintain a consistent head set and happy horse at a well cadenced, correct trot, a good rider is making constant adjustments of her body, hands, etc., to achieve a following hand on the reins.  Adjustments can be done with just an adjustment of pressure of the fingers.

Sigh, poor Blessi.  When I ride the trot, he tries so hard to follow what I am asking but I am asking so inconsistently that his head set is all over the place.  And I am not even trying for a collected trot, just a nice working trot head set.  Not that I do much trotting these days.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Blessi is Not Slower than Molasses in November

Days are a bit chilly here in the Pacific Northwest with temperatures highs around 45.  Alan, one of the boarders, was treating his draft cross Belle to a warm bucket of water with some molasses to encourage water consumption.  He asked if I would like to have some molasses for Blessi.

Sue even got Blessi's bucket and filled it with warm water.  We added about two tablespoons of molasses and put the water bucket back in Blessi's stall.  As we watched Blessi dove right into the water.  I turned to say "Blessi loves it.  Tha....,"  when I was interrupted by BANG, BANG, SPLAAAASH, Bump, Splish.

Blessi decided that drinking a lot of water to get to the good stuff at the bottom was too time consuming.  He was doing his best to upend the bucket, which was attached to a wall bracket, spilling what looked like gallons of water about the floor.  I quickly intervened, took the bucket outside to dump most of it, and then let Blessi drink the last few inches of water and lick out the sweet stuff.  I then rinsed out the bucket thoroughly and filled with just water.

I hope Blessi does not destroy his water bucket (he has two large ones) in an attempt to find the on switch for the flow of molasses.   I now have to send an email to the stable owner explaining why his stall is flooded and offer to pay for a bucket if he gets creative tonight.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 Equus Film Festival --Part 2

In November, Equus Magazine and other sponsors held a film festival all about horses--from professionally produced features to amateur productions.  Here is a link to the site where you can view many of these films.  Beware you can spend a lot of time viewing these entries.

Here is the preview to Of Gods and Kings: The Skyros Horse about the conservation effort for an ancient horse breed in Greece that is only found on the Skyros Island.  You can see some similarities with the background of the Icelandic horse (but not genetically).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2015 Equus Film Festival Films--Part 1

In November, Equus Magazine and other sponsors held a film festival all about horses--from professionally produced features to amateur productions.  Here is a link to the site where you can view many of these films.  Beware you can spend a lot of time viewing these entries.

Here is one of my favorite in the student production category  "Whip my mane."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Herding Sheep by Horseback in Iceland

Each year riders go into the highlands of Iceland and herd the sheep to their winter quarters on farms.  You can book excursions to this yearly event.   I believe Blessi was ridden in sheep herding.  He was very interested in the deer when he first encountered them on a trail ride.  He seemed to categorize them as odd-looking sheep, apt to spook and silly movements but something harmless we could herd.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Comparing Gaits of Walker, Paso Fino, and Icelandic

Stephenie og Gunnar has released a video comparing the gaits of a Tennessee Walker, Paso Fino, and Icelandic.   Although quality of gaits vary across individuals within breeds, I have found that Icelandics tend to be faster than other breeds, you can see the Paso Fino break into a canter to keep up at one point.  The Walker exhibits the typical long understride and head nod; rider seat motion tends to be back and forth rather than the side to side typical of a tolt.  The Paso Fino has  brio, fire, lots of leg action.

They are all beautiful representatives of their breeds.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Blessi and the Hen

My friend Judy took this picture of Blessi and his friend the hen.  There are several that follow him around and even try to steal oats when he is eating his supplements.  I love the effect of the shadows and low lighting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Blessi and the pumpkin seeds

My sister Stacie roasted pumpkin seeds for Halloween and coated them with sugar and cinnamon.  They met with Blessi's approval today.  What more could he ask for -- sweet, tasty, crunchy, and packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals  like zinc and magnesium, antioxidants, protein, and oleic acic (the good kind of fat). 

The internet has lots of good recipes for roasting your own pumpkin seeds and adding various toppings.  Have fun!

Friday, October 16, 2015

An Amazing Video--Icelandics inspired by Xenophon

Kathy Sierra made this video about her Icelandic horses.  She was inspired by quotes from Xenophon, a Greek soldier and historian from around 350 BC.  Magical, mystical, inspiring, beautiful...there are not enough adjectives to describe this video.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Icelandic Quarter Horse Cross

Once again--not advocating crossing the Icelandic horse with other breeds but here is what an Icelandic crossed with a Quarter Horse looks like.  Interestingly I had an email conversation with somebody about an item on Craigslist.  He mentioned that a ranch (I don't know the name of it)  in Idaho was deliberately crossing Icelandics with Quarter horses because the visitors at the dude ranch liked riding the cross so much.  Makes you wonder why they just don't get a few purebred Icelandic.  :-)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Blessi and the can of peanuts

Here is a video of Blessi opening a can of peanuts.   This is the third time that he has had the opportunity to "play" with a can of peanuts.  However, he was just as quick and assured on his first attempt.

Event 1:
For 2 years, I used peanuts to treat him for tricks.  One time, Blessi was playing the game at two levels:
-tactical--do the trick and get one peanut
- strategic--watch me carefully to see when I was not paying since he was at liberty and go for the whole can.
I got tired of moving the can of peanuts so I closed it and put it outside the arena.

As I was leading him outside the arena, I started to talk to another boarder.  Just that fast, he opened the can of peanuts to win the jackpot.

Event 2:
I gave Blessi a large plastic bag of new musical instruments for him to explore.   Instead of pulling things out of the bag and tossing them around, Blessi kept his head in the bag which was odd.  Finally I went to check on him.  I had forgotten that the peanut can was in the bag.  Blessi had opened the can and munching peanuts being careful to keep his head out of sight.

Event 3:
Video that I made today.

This is an amazing video if you think about it.  Blessi must have observed me for years and in his own mind figured out the spacial representations on how to use his lips to replace fingers.  Plus he doesn't have opposable thumbs so he had to pre-figure out how to brace the can against the ground to get leverage.  And the can is in his blind spot so he was working without a lot of visual feedback.  There is a lot of cognitive processing going on in Blessi' black box.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ríðum, ríðum--Great arrangement and translation

I love this song based on riding for safe over the Icelandic country side threatened by fairies and bandits.  Enjoy the wonderful Icelandic tenor Jón Þorsteinsson accompanied by Eduad de Boer.  Be sure to check out the words to the song in original Icelandic and translation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What Does a Missouri Foxtrotter and Icelandic Cross Look Like

Just for fun I have decided to start collecting videos of what Icelandics look like when crossed with another breed.  I'm not advocating crossing the Icelandic with anything but it happens.  Here is an example of a Missouri Foxtrotter-Icelandic cross.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Equine Innovative Behavior--opening feed drawer

Here's another example of Iris opening a feed gate to raid the other horse's meals.  And her owners were wondering why she wasn't losing weight.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Equine Innovative Behavior--Social Reasons 2

Here is another example of one horse deliberately feeding another.  What does this say about herd dynamics and hierarchy?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Equine Innovative Behavior--Social Reasons 1

As per our last posting, Dr. Konstanz Krueger and her equine behaviour team at Nürtingen-Geislingen University are studying equine innovative behavior--in other words a horse exhibiting unusual behavior indicating higher level processing.  Their preliminary examination of submitted examples show that horses exhibit innovative behavior over food, escape, social reasons, and maintenance.  Here is an excellent example that I found of horses sharing food.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Social Learning Among Horses--Blessi does an experiment

Scientists have recently started studying social learning among horses. Social learning refers to horses learning from the observation of other creatures--such as horses or humans.   For years scientists were unable to devise a controlled experiment to document that horses learn from observing others--something almost all horse owners give examples of from opening gates to raiding closed feed containers.

Just a few years ago, Dr. Konstanz Krueger and her equine behaviour team at Nürtingen-Geislingen University were able to demonstrate that horses could learn from observing people and other horses.  The horses were more likely to copy behavior from older, more higher ranking herd members.  

Dr. Krueger and her team are now studying innovative behavior in horses--actions in which a horse figures out a problem or develops a solution not typically exhibited by horses. Her team are collecting examples of such innovative behavior from horse owners (it is not too late to submit examples of what your clever Icelandics do). As of June of this year, 304 examples have been submitted including simple tool use.  Check out this page to see a yearling use a brush to groom his dam, a horse open an electric gate by grabbing the three handles of the wires, etc.  At one point the site had a video of horse picking up a stick to sweep out stray hay from under his feed box.

Preliminary review of the innovative equine behaviors exhibited indicate that most are driven by quest for food, desire to escape, social reasons, and maintenance.  As Dr. Krueger explains, "In a nutshell, the horses’ cognitive capacities appear to be underestimated throughout the last decades. The horses’ social complexity is far more elaborate than previously assumed, horses learn socially from conspecific and humans, some of them demonstrate innovative behaviour adaptations to their environment and even simple forms of tool use."


Inspired by this reading, I decided to "play" (in no way was this a scientifically controlled experiment or have any association with the work of Dr. and her team) with Blessi. I first demonstrated to him how to pull a rope to drag a bag of carrots under the fence. He picked this up in under 10 minutes. Once again this was not a controlled experiment so I am sure I was unintentionally giving lots of cues on expected behavior. 

This was Blessi's first attempt to pull a rope using an item other than a bag of carrots--can he transfer his learning to a new object? You may also get a chuckle out of the "psychology joke" that results.

Enjoy, Pamela Nolf

Friday, September 11, 2015

Feeding a horse before exercise helps prevent ulcers

Dr. Nerida Richards reports that feeding a horse can help prevent gastric ulcers.  She states, "Having a full stomach is important for the horse as it stops gastric acids from the lower part of the stomach splashing around and irritating the upper sections of the gastrointestinal tract. This acid splash that occurs in horses exercised on an empty stomach is thought to contribute to the development of gastric ulcers."

Therefore it is important to feed horses before exercise if it has been more than 2 hours since they have eaten.  Forage, preferably hay, is recommended.  Alfalfa has been shown to help prevent ulcers.  Grain should not be fed within the hours before or after the ride because of its effect on insulin.

You can read the entire article at:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Blessi's side saddle-ride like a queen

My friend Dawn tried riding side saddle on Blessi.  She had a great time.  One of the keys to aside riding seems to be sit like a queen.  Dawn looks very regal.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Advice to a Younger Horse

Horse Collaborative has a wonderful series of entertaining videos.  What kind of advice would an older horse give to a colt?

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Icelandics in the Tunnel

I am always amazed at how calmly Icelandics accept situations that most other horse breed balk at.  Here riders and the loose horses accompanying the group ride through what the video poster calls "the scary tunnel."

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Our New Motto

I was doing some research on the history of Icelandic horses in Ballard WA (essentially there isn't any), when I came across this wonderful expression.

  • Megi spjót þitt í mark fara, örvar þínar beint fl júga, og sverð þitt góðu biti halda. 
  • May your spear hit your target, your arrows fly straight, and your sword stay sharp.

I have no idea if it is period or not, but I am adopting it for Blessi and me.  We need all the help we can get in medieval equestrian games.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Flying Lead Changes in Icelandics

Wikipedia defines flying lead changes as "a lead change performed by a horse in which the lead changes at the canter while in the air between two strides. It is often seen in dressage, where the horse may do several changes in sequence (tempi changes), in reining as part of the pattern, or in jumping events, where a horse will change lead as it changes direction on the course."
Dressage horse and rider preparing for
flying lead change.  Source: Wikipedia

Blessi has never progressed far enough in his dressage training to move to flying lead changes. His dressage instructors said that he would be capable if he was ridden consistently enough to strengthen and develop a collected, 3-beat canter--which is a challenge for many Icelandics.  Some Icelandics have a natural, beautiful 3-beat canter so presumably learning flying lead changes would be easier for them.

A few years ago, I was in email correspondence with a dressage rider in Germany who rides her Icelandic at Level M dressage, which I think is Prix St George level.  The Icelandic would have had to be capable of good flying lead changes since the owner said that he scored high enough to win ribbons.

The question came up on the International Icelandic dressage group if Icelandics could perform flying lead changes and, if so, were there any videos showing them performing them. I went on a google/yahoo/youtube search using terms in English, French, and German but could not find any.  I did find some ads in Germany for Icelandics listing flying lead changes as one of the horse's abilities.

While searching on-line I came across an interview with Andrea and Richard Janisch Hindrich about gaited horses and collected canter work such as flying lead changes or fliegende Wechsel.  You can read the on-line translation from German about the biomechanical requirements for this type of work here:

Here is a link to the article in the original German:

As Andrea Janisch says, "ndrea Jänisch: First of all I would like to mention the respiratory rhythm here. No gait is so useful to train the breathing rhythm - each stride is a breath. That is not so in the other gaits. The tölt makes it even more difficult to learn the controlled breathing rhythm.Galloping results but which by itself. Without controlled breathing rhythm no effort is possible that everyone knows from jogging. 
In addition, the horse affects the abdominal muscles of the horse. The sets of the pool and inside the thighs and is particularly stressed by the gallop. Associated with increased mobility in sacroiliac joint and thus the movement of the pelvis to the spine. 
Yet something else is important to me: the enthusiasm. I can get the enthusiasm of the horse with the gallop. You can see all the gears in the emotional image: for his canter is enthusiasm, the Off-up going out the appropriate emotion. If the horse is too lazy, too introverted, the canter is the appropriate pace to make the horse faster and happier. "

The interview stresses the importance of developing a balanced horse with self-carriage before asking for flying lead changes. But as the article makes clear, there are lots of considerations with variations among individual horses and breeds to take into account when teaching flying lead changes.

 Other short legged breeds such Haflingers and Fjords master flying lead changes. Does anybody know of any videos of Icelandics performing flying lead changes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015 New World Record in Flying Pace (P1)

Søren Madsen from Denmark riding  Hárekur frá Hákoti age 13  set a new world record for flying pace (P1) of 31.49 seconds at 250 meters at the Icelandic horse World Championships.  This was .1 second faster than the previous record.  A few moments later Guðmundur Einarsson rode  Sproti frá Sjávarbog [IS199715724] to reach the same time.  Sproti is 18 years old, or one year younger than my horse Blessi.  

The gold medal went to Einarsoon and Sproti.

Gotta love the long term usability of those Icelandics.  Imagine an 18-year old horse setting a world record?  

For more information, you can go to FEIF

Here's the video of Madsen and Harekur's winning ride.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Riding Icelandic Horses in Greenland

This is something you don't see everyday---riding Icelandic horses in Sisimuit, Greenland.  The video gives you a great idea as to how agile these horses are in rough terrain. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Portrait of Blessi

Angelise, age 8, took her first independent riding lesson on Blessi.  She is definitely a budding equestrienne.  In thanks she presented me with this lovely portrait of Blessi that just captures his personality.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Blessi and the Garrocha

Over the weekend I went to an Alice Trindle clinic to learn how to ride with a garrocha, the 14-foot pole used in Spain to herd the fighting bulls.  The clinic also covered how to perform classic dressage in-hand exercises for suppling and strength building.  Poor Blessi, I was very bad at it. Alice good humoredly called my efforts "whalespeak."  In this type of communication with your horse, yooouu aarree sppeeakkiiingg sooooo sllooowwwllly thhaaat yoouour hoorsee reesppooondds iiinn annnn eexxtrreemellyyy duuulll maannneeer."  My cues were so fuzzy and slow that Blessi had no chance to express his brilliance and do what Alice called "showing off."

I have kind of a grumpy face.   Perhaps because
I kept losing track of the pole and knocking my
helmet down over my eyes.
Alice borrowed Blessi to give a demo of garrocha riding.  Because of his medieval games experience, he was able to do just about everything with the pole at a walk.  Ride under and in a circle, do spiral in and out, carry the pole, take the pole and rotate it end over end, kind of sort of back up with it.  But Alice is an exceptional rider and can get brilliance and collection in horse new to her.  Alice then picked up a stick with a flag on the end of it and rode Blessi in a game of "chase the tail."  She rode up to each horse/rider combo and they had to trot and chase each other's tail in a tight circle.  This was good practice for the next day's work with the garrocha and let the horses build a herd mentality.   

At the end of the demo, Alice said Blessi was "a fine riding horse" which I
think is quite the compliment.  She also said that Blessi chuckles at people a lot.  He is quite the jokester.  She also liked his powerful butt and how he can use it.  Blessi really did a nice job representing Icelandics over the weekend; me, perhaps, not so much.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sisterhood of the Traveling Sunglasses

Keeping track of my sunglasses has always been a problem.  While visiting the stable,  I put my sunglasses on the tonneau cover on the back of my pick up truck and forgot about them.  When I got home, I realized that my favorite pair of sunglasses fell off the truck sometime during my journey.  Oh well another pair of glasses lost.

Next time I went to the stable, Lora was talking about the great pair of sunglasses she found in the road leading to the stable.
"Are they large framed,  tortoise shell with a gold KC on the side of the frame?," I inquired.
"Yes," said Lora "and they are in great shape for being found alongside the road."
"I think they might be mine.  Could I take a look?
"No, because I wore them trail riding in Alpine Forest.  When I asked my mare to pick up a canter, the glasses flew off into the bushes."

Oh well....I replaced the sunglasses with another style.

A month later I was playing cards with some friends.  The conversation turned toward trail riding.  Bonnie mentioned the great pair of sun glasses she found in a bush in Alpine Forest.
"Are they large framed,  tortoise shell with a gold KC on the side of the frame?," I inquired.
"Yes," said Bonnie "and they are in great shape for being found in a bush."
"I think were once mine.  Could I take a look?

They were my former sunglasses!!!!  I offered to trade Bonnie for my new pair which she liked better than the pair she found in the bushes anyway.

That is how I got my favorite pair of sunglasses back.  And I still have them.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What does a Friesian Icelandic cross look like

Normally Icelandic crosses just look like funny looking Icelandics.  But here is a Friesian Icelandic cross from the Netherlands I think.  It seems like the mare got the cuteness of the Icelandic modifying the stateliness of the Friesian.   I would love to have this horse--not that I promote crossing Icelandic and Friesians.  However it is interesting to speculate what the cross would be called--Iceian--Icehollandic--- Frieslandics?  What do you think?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Virtual ride to Herning --2015 World Championships

The Icelandic Horse World Competition is being held right now in Herning, Demark. To support the event, riders from all over the world participated in a virtual ride Herning---riding so many miles in "relay" to add up to the longest distance from Herning.  Here is a video of the participating riders.  I know some of these horses and riders.  Plus it is beautiful to see Icelandic riders from all over the world having fun on the trail with their Icelandic horses.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Enriching cat environment by letting it hunt for food

Benjamin Millam invented this clever device to enable his cat Monkey to "hunt" for food in the demanding environment of the urban apartment.  How clever!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Modern Day Crossing Goðafoss Waterfalls

Icelandic horses are know as the bridges of Iceland for good reason. Below are treking horses crossing

Goðafoss Waterfalls, know as the waterfalls of the gods.

Here is a photo from the early 1900s of a horse and rider crossing the falls at Buria.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Beautiful Icelandic Stallion Prospects from

One can never view too many photos of beautiful Icelandic horses.  Here are some stallion prospects from Garðshorn á Þelamörk, Breeding farm of the year in Iceland in 2014.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Designing a booth for Icelandic horse shows

Designing a booth for an Icelandic horse cub---imagine the horses in stall areas made to look like a Viking long ship.

We can even call the ship "Sea Stallion."  A very famous Viking ship was the Havhingsten or Sea Stallion.  "Sea Stallion" was often used as a kenning or metaphor in Norse poems for ship.  Just as "whale road" was a kenning for the sea or "Viking moon" for a shield.  Beowulf the poem mentions a "foamy throated sea stallion."  Isn't that a great metaphor for a ship flying through the waves.

The booth ship will have a prow, a sail, a shield for each horse stall painted with Norse designs, and gripping beasts on the hangings above the stall.   Lisa found wood patterned material for the sides of the stalls.

Folk are all making stuff to help out.  I sewed the "sail" and have drapery with gripping beasts that I use for SCA events on my pavillion tent.  This will so cute!
Half the sail shown under the gripping beast drapes.
 Wasu the cat had to be in the picture.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Swimming with Icelandics

These women are swimming their Icelandics at the Feddet peninsula in Denmark.  I love being able to view the motion of the horses' legs under the water.  I always wanted to do this with Blessi.  A Icelandic breeding judge told me that Blessi comes from the line of water horses in Iceland.  Unfortunately, I forgot the rest of the details.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Clapping for attention

I wonder how and why this horse started performing this behavior?  Did he imitate his owner?  Did his owner reward his for this behavior, perhaps inadvertently?  Let's all clap for this entertaining Icelandic.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Challenges of finding a saddle for pony

Just for fun, we took wither tracings of Max, the 11-hand grade pony, versus Tucker the 16 hand muscled Quarter horse, and Diesel, the 17 hand Paint stallion.  Max's wither tracing displays at the top of the photo. As you can see, Max had the u-shaped withers typical of the pony.  Diesel and Tucker have V-shaped withers.

Max's gullet width measured three inches down from the top of the withers was 9.5 inches versus 6.5 and 6 inches for Diesel and Tucker respectively.  Blessi's saddles fit Max through the shoulders--even though they were way too long for Max's back.  Another illustration of why saddle fit can be so challenging.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Max the Pony Meets Blessi

A fellow boarder purchased Max a grade pony for her 8-year old son.  Max is such a sweetie--well behaved and curious.  He and Blessi celebrated their ponitudes by alternating pushing over the stool.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

PC A most unusual Burmese cat--A Memory

PC and I are dressed as Rocky and Bullwinkle at the
office Halloween party.  Yes, that is a landshark from
the classic SNL skit and yes the Japenese
visitors are quite amused.

PC was my first Burmese cat, who did not think he was a cat.  Or at least he defined "catness" as something totally different from the rest of the feline world.  As you can see by the photos, PC would go anywhere, anytime, meet any creature, and have fun.  From twin human babies poking at him, to kids putting him in a swing and pushing him, to visiting other people's houses with strange dogs and cats, he assumed life was a party filled with catnip and friends.

PC pushes the baby carriage down the
hallway.  He learned most of the tricks in
PC also learned tricks.  He was easy to teach--learning sit, roll over, shake hands, leap through a hoop, jump to shoulders, walk on a leash, retrieve, wave bye bye, push the other cat in a baby carriage, etc.  At one point I was convinced that I should quit my job in software documentation and move to Hollywood to train cats for the movies.  However, I was never able to teach another cat a single trick so I am glad that I kept my day job.

My other cat was Mimsie the Siamese.  The only creatures
she liked were me and PC.  PC and Merci were
a nice yin-yang of feline companions.

Blessi entered my life when PC was 17.  I always wanted to take PC to the barn to meet Blessi and  take PC for a tolt.  But PC was a bit frail at that age and I wasn't sure if the visit was for my entertainment or his so I never did so.  Merci got to meet Blessi 10 years later.

PC loved his fish.  Unfortunately he was much more clever about
stalking it than I was at protecting it.  Even keeping the fish in
the microwave at night did not extend its life by much.
PC was such a character that he deserves a book of his adventures.  I did write and illustrate a children's book on that topic--thus learning just how hard it is to write a good book for that audience.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Blessi and Merci--the video

Here is the video of the Merci and Blessi meeting.  Lish the photographer lost control of the camera for part of the video--as will become apparent.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Blessi and Merci--The Icelandic Horse and the Burmese Cat

Blessi checks out Merci, who is not at all bothered
by the huge, odd smelling dog .

Note the handle of my tack box on the floor
since handles play a role later in the adventure.
Blessi has always adored cats.  Whenever we board at a stable with cats, Blessi makes friends with any local felines.  Our current stable does not have cats so I decided to take my kitty Merci to the barn for a visit.  Normally I would not recommend taking an indoor cat to the barn but Merci is a Burmese cat.  Burmese cats are like the Icelandic horses of the cat world (and Siamese are like the Arabs).

The National Alliance of Burmese Breeders gives the following description of the Burmese temperament:
Merci gets to check out Blessi to confirm her original
thought that Blessi is odd but harmless.
"Burmese are the ultimate companion cats. Often cited as the most affectionate of all cat breeds, they love being with people, playing with them, and keeping them entertained. They crave close physical contact with their people. Often referred to as “velcro cats”, they abhor an empty lap, will follow their humans from room to room, and sleep in bed with them, preferably under the covers, cuddled as close as possible. When they play, they often try to entertain. They will actually check to see if you’re is  [sic] watching their crazy antics. They are very intelligent, and often stubborn. ”  That's a very accurate description of Merci's personality.  It also explains why  Burmese do not make good outdoor cats since they are very trusting and think all God's creatures are their friends.
Blessi tries to show how friendly he is by
grooming Merci behind her ears.

The two creatures are introduced as Merci shelters in her carry case.  She seems quite interested and Blessi is fascinated.  Introductions outside the case are equally successful.  Through practice with his other feline friends, Blessi knows how to groom Merci gently behind her ears.  (When Blessi was introduced to a bunny at a horse show, he groomed the laid back bunny behind the ears also.)

The introduction is going really well so we move on to riding lessons.  Merci makes the typical novice  mistake of not using a centered riding position.  Even so she starts to purr.

Blessi somehow knows ho to pick up the case.
He must have learned through observing me
pick up his tack box, which is a re-purposed tool box.
Lish takes a turn holding Merci while Blessi tries to make off with the carry case.  How does he know to grab the case by the handle?  And he does it with no hesitation which doubly surprising since he does not have a carry case to practice with.   (At the end of the session as I was carrying Merci back to the truck, I put the carry case down on the arena ground.  Darn if Blessi does not pick up the carry case and try to walk away with Merci.  He hasn't had much practice carrying a case in an stable position so I have to rescue Merci before she slips and slides too much.)

Blessi and Merci had a great visit. Here we are--three species at the end of wonderful play day. I wonder if Merci might like to ride a tolt some day.  Merci is a purebred Burmese but I adopted her from a local cat rescue.  Merci was found wandering the streets of Ridgefield WA. Blessi gives a big shout out to the animal rescue groups of the world.