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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What to do in a heat wave

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are having a rare heatwave.  So to tide us over until the temperatures drop, here are some Icelandics have a blast playing with water.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

On little cat feet--Merci's art project

 I fill up my own printer cartridges to save money.  I swear I cleaned up everything after refilling the cartridges but somehow Merci the cat found a pool of ink and made her own art.  Later I found the source of all the ink--Merci knows how to open cupboard doors.

To adapt Sandburg's poem:

"The ink comes on little cat feet.

She sits looking over floor and sink
on silent haunches
and then moves on."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

HÖRDUR German film about Icelandic horse

HÖRDUR is a recently released film in Germany.  As far as I can tell, the plot involves a misunderstood girl meeting a misunderstood horse who find redemption through their partnership.  It looks like a great film.  I hope it gets released in the US with English subtitles. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

How Icelandic Horses Fly to the US

Icelandair has created a video showing the transport process.  As you can tell, most Icelandics think it is more important to eat than get all worked up about flying.