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.