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!