Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kittens Reenact Halloween Horror Movies

Don't be afraid! It's only a Halloween horror movie starring kittens. Bahahaha!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Pumpkin Carving at NASA

Every year, workers at NASA have a pumpkin carving contest.  The results are out of this world.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Nomad Horse Games

Forget the prancing horses in the Olympics, let's watch real nomad horse games.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Ultima Thule School of Vikingr Voltes and Kung Fu Mezairs

Xenophon’s Dream from Seriouspony on Vimeo.
Icelandics at play as coached by Steinar and Kathy Sierra. Move over Spanish Riding School--this is what haute ecole would look like if the horses designed the curriculum. My suggested name for this curriculum is the Ultima Thule School of Vikingr Voltes and Kung Fu Mezairs translated as the Icelandic School of Bad Ass Circles and Kung Fu Leaps.  Kathy could call her troupe the Second City Ponies.

Ultimate Thule is the ancient Greek name for Iceland. Xenophon, who wrote On Horsemanship in Greece circa 350 BC, had this to say about training horses:

"What we need is that the horse should of his own
accord exhibit his finest airs and paces at set signals. Supposing,
when he is in the riding-field, you push him to a gallop until he is
bathed in sweat, and when he begins to prance and show his airs to fine
effect, you promptly dismount and take off the bit, you may rely upon
it he will of his own accord another time break into the same
prancing action. Such are the horses on which gods and heroes ride,
as represented by the artist. The majesty of men themselves is best
discovered in the graceful handling of such animals. A horse so
prancing is indeed a thing of beauty, a wonder and a marvel; riveting
the gaze of all who see him, young alike and graybeards. They will never
turn their backs, I venture to predict, or weary of their gazing so long
as he continues to display his splendid action."

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Poor Blessi's Eye

Blessi really enjoys meeting the public and being an ambassador for the Icelandic breed.  He could
not go to the Washington State Fair this year because he got an irritated eye.  He was very sensitive about anybody touching his face.  He took his upper lip and made circles to push my arm away every time I approached with the eye salve--kind of like a queen motioning "Go away you peasant!"  The summer was very dry in the Pacific Northwest; the forest fire ash and the dust created a lot of particulates in the air.  The vet had to make a second visit but Blessi eventually recovered.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Icelandics at the Washington State Fair

The original sketch
Dreki, a Viking dragonship, "sailed" to the Washington State Fair in Puyallup from Iceland with a cargo of rare Icelandic horses September 1 to 13, 2017.  Come meet the steeds that Thor and Odin rode. Learn about their unique gaits--the tolt and the flying pace.

This was the project that I was managing in August and September. Lots of people contributed to the success of this exhibit.   I hope you were able to come to the Breed Showcase. Only 6 breeds--Curly, Arab, Friesian, Paint, Icelandic, and Appaloosa-- were invited to attend so we are really excited that the million visitors to the Fair have the opp
ortunity to meet our fabulous breed. (There will be no ridden demos this year.)

And we really built a Viking ship as a demo booth!!!!There was Dreki the dragon prow in front of a sail and each horse stall was decorated as part of the ship with viking shields.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Geologists Can Rap

Who knew geologists can rap?  I love the hammer drop at the end.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Renaissance notation knives

Renaissance notation knives had music inscribed on the blades. Each blade had the music for one voice as part of a chorus who would sing the benediction or grace at a meal. If you listen to the video at the end of the article, you will hear some lovely music.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

2015 WorldFengur Report

Here are some highlights (in my humble opinion):

In March 2016, WorldFengur, the Icelandic horse world registry, published a report on major trends in the registration of these horses.

Subscriptions to WF, currently 19,060 are up by 5% in one year. Over the past three years, the greatest number of users is in Germany 5,173 or 27% followed by Iceland at 4,028, Sweden 3,617, Denmark 2,639. Members are up by 11% in Germany and Sweden and down by 40% in Norway. (US is not mentioned.)

If you are a WF subscriber, you can purchase a service to view videos from Lansmot this year. WF is also adding videos from previous Lansmots that you can view for a fee.

Different countries now have different criteria for approval of stallions for breeding purposes. Iceland allows breeders to choose any stallion they want. Other countries have different criteria. WF continues to discuss if there should be standardization in this area.

There are 142 registered Icelandic horses in New Zealand.

“Should Icelandic horses always carry Iceland names? There are various takes on this topic: some studbook associations allow only Icelandic names, others are more liberal provided the name chosen is not offensive. In general, most horses get Icelandic names. At a WF meeting in Malmö in 2013, WF registrars discussed this topic and the outcome was that based on legal grounds, it is not possible to set stricter rules to the use of Icelandic horse names only, since this would infringe on the breeders´ freedom of choice.” P. 6 Personal comment: I sometimes get kidded about misspelling Blessi’s name (his barn name to me is short for Blessing). When I did a search in WF, I found about 17 or so mares named Pamela and 1 mare in Iceland named Pamela Anderson.  FEIF recently ruled that Icelandic horses should carry Icelandic names.

The number of foals born and assessed on a world-wide basis continues to drop steadily over the past 8 years. In 2008, 16,454 foals were born and 3,119 registered. In 2015 those numbers were 8,164 and 2,155 respectively.

In 2015, 1360 were exported from Iceland, compared with 1,269 in 2014. Export numbers: Germany—529, Sweden – 219, Denmark 165,US – 39.

The full report is no longer available online.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Putting the Octopus to Bed--Writing as Spawning

My perceived need to write perfection is like
an octopus  trapping me in the edit process.
(1801 Drawing by Pierre de Montfort: Wikipedia)
Octopus can be cute and awesome and inspiring but not when they prevent you from writing.  You
might be interested in checking out my new essay "Putting the Octopus to Bed--Writing as Spawning."   Click on the almost invisible link below:


Monday, October 16, 2017

1896 Irish Parliament Hearings about Icelandic Horses

In 1896, the Irish Parliament conducted hearings on the state of horse breeding in the country. At that time, the view of Icelandic "ponies" was not very favorable.   Mr. J. F. Bomford testified about the ponies who came over from Iceland as ballast to Dublin and Belfast as not being worth very much.

One witness stated, "What do you think of them ?—I think they are the most wretched animals you could imagine of the equine race." Another witness said, "I think a strong or rougher Shetland or Iceland pony would suit the people" in rough, boggy parts of Ireland as opposed to a more delicate Hackney pony. 

The Irish speakers didn't like American horses either.  As one speaker noted,  "I have seen some American horses and they were all very bad; they were so bad and so ill-formed that I do not understand why anyone wanted a brand to distinguish them." Although he had seen some good Canadian horses.

If you read the "Minutes of evidence taken before the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the horse breeding industry in Ireland," you will find that the speaker's point of view is heavily influenced by the intended use of the horse. One speaker was concerned about breeding hunters; another, cart horses on rough roads.

The photo above, from Hayes' The Points of the Horse in 1893, shows what was regarded as a "typical" Icelandic foal (shown at top of page) vs. Shetland pony.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Life is Like Photographing Dragonflies

I have decided that life is like trying to photograph dragonflies. You just need to take the chance and point the camera---the dragonflies will fly into the frame. Of course if you learn about f-stops, apertures, and shutter speed, your photographs of the dragonflies may be sharper.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Icelandics and Interpretive Dance

What could be better than an Icelandic horse participating in an interpretive dance? Note the rider is using a neckring and riding bareback. Minutes 10:00 to 12:00 and the ending are especially affecting. Idunn the fiery chestnut knows she deserves that ovation.

Here is a translation from the Danish:
"Join us on a journey
Into the border between the divided and united,
Nature and culture, vulnerability and power.
This is the free land of motion,
Where body, sound and life meet, divide and show way.
Notice the chaos and individuality that makes
That harmony and cohesion can exist

Improvised multi-performance, inspired by the song
"If I disappear" by Freja Møller Kristiansen
Dance: Katja Døi Jensen and Mikael Hedegaard
Riding: Katrine Buur and Idunn fra Midgaard"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

History of Judging Spirit of Icelandic Horse

f you look at the history of the Icelandic horse breeding evaluations, there has always been a lot of
discussion about how to judge spirit. In the 1980's the horses were judged on both willingness and disposition--two separate scores. And the weighting of what is now "spirit" has changed over the years also. At one point, it was weighted at around 17% and today at 9% .

The original designers of the breeding evals were specifically not looking to reward fear. Per Marit Jonson 1988 Judging Icelandic Breeding Horses: She quotes from a pre-1988 breeding standard:

"Willingness and self-propulsion is the most important quality in an Icelandic riding horse and is the foundation for all other riding qualities. Irrespective of an excellent predisposition for all the gaits, a horse will never achieve top notes unless it has the prerequisite willingness. The horse must push ahead willingly in all gaits, always a little bit faster than the tempo indicated by the rider, so that it is always pushing a little at the bit. The willingness will also show itself by the fact that the horse will go ahead without sticking to other horses, and that it will continue even when tired. The willingness may well approach the uncontrollable as long as it does not exceed this limit."

She writes:

"This untamed will, this reservoir of power, which must not be confused with fear or nervousness [I added the bold], is what makes our small horses appear so big. If you have ever tried to cross an Icelandic desert on a tired horse, you will appreciate the enormous value of this strange gift."

She goes on to note that horses in Iceland are more "willing" than those bred in Europe. To score a 10 the horses should be "'Live volcanoes' with a large power reserve and indefatigable energy."
Disposition is defined as "It is obviously important for a horse to have a good character, to have the ability to learn, to be cheerful and courageous, docile and cooperative. The disposition is so critical that the value of its will to run is wholly dependent on the character of the horse. We do not, after all, want surly, nervous or stupid 'live volcanoes'".

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Finding Mjǫllnir, the Hammer of the Gods

While shopping at Goodwill, I found a wide camp bed. The cashier asked me about the cot and I mentioned Society for Creative Anachronism events. The cashier said he did Norse events and was looking for a new shield.   Somehow the topic came up about how we were building a dragonship for the WA State Fair for our Icelandic horses and I was looking for Viking arms for kids to wear for photo ops. 

The cashier said, "Wait right here. There's some treasure you need to see."   He got a manager to cover for him and ran off.  He came back a few minutes later with a double headed ax, two Viking helmets, and Mjǫllnir, Thor's hammer. When I asked his name to thank him, he said Thor. I was taken aback but I checked his name tag which did indeed say Thor. So when kids ask us where we got the hammer, we can truthfully say that Thor gave it to us.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Harvey the Hawk Finds a Taxi During Huricane Irma

Among all the stress and suffering due to the hurricane in Texas, here is a great story of neighborly behavior. Houston resident William Bruso was startled when a Coopers hawk flew into his taxi and decided to stay despite Bruso trying to shoo the bird away. Bruso drove the hawk to his house but the seemingly healthy hawk refused to leave the car. Bruso eventually picked up the hawk, nicknamed Harvey the Hurricane Hawk, and took it inside his apartment. Harvey spent the rest of the storm watching TV and eating chicken hearts with the guys who were having a beer or so.

Here's a link to a video of Harvey eating a chicken heart snack in front of the liquor cabinet.

The next day, the Texas Wildlife Rehab Coalition picked up the bird for evaluation.

Bruso posted a series of videos of Harvey through the storm.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Can a Mule Look Wistful?

Can a mule look wistful? Here is Jake the mule wondering why Blessi gets to graze that one lush patch of clover and grass by the watering hose. Look at how relaxed Jake is in his new home. His lower lip extends beyond his upper lip by at least an inch.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

My New Blog "Writing to A Muse"

I have started a new blog. No it is not about Blessi--although he is often my muse. It is about writing and writing about Blessi.--after all Pegasus is the horse of the muses.  My articles are now being published by such periodicals as Equus magazine.

 I am still working on site development but I thought you might enjoy my first essay on "The Whys of Becoming a Writer."

Monday, October 2, 2017

Blessi Reads Sitting Pretty

Blessi got to read his article "Sitting Pretty" in the September Equus magazine. It was hard to get a good picture because Blessi assumed there was a way to earn a peanut by interacting with the magazine. He sniffed it, flipped pages, slimed it, and even grabbed it out of my hand at one point and shook it. I think he liked it. The opinion of Mittens the cat is unknown.

If you are interested in more of my humorous stories about Blessi, here is a link to my other blog that lists my published stories.

And here's a link to my essay on how to start writing.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Blessi saves the day in absentia

I went to the library today. Before selecting books, I decided to wash up after a visit with Blessi. As I was about to leave, a lady with a little girl about 5 and little boy about 2 came in. The mother was assisting her daughter as the little boy went to the door and started to have a meltdown in his desire to leave the room. In an attempt to help, I started talking to Jamie (with the mother's agreement)--playing peekaboo, askng him if he had any pets, did he like the library....Jamie went all shy and quiet. 

Finally in desperation to find something to talk about I asked "Do you want to see a picture of my pony?" Jamie was quite enchanted just to have an adult to stare at. The little girl finished so I said good bye to the family and the mother thanked me for helping. As I opened the door to leave, the little girl Mandy piped up as she was washing her hands "But I want to see the pony pictures." 

Luckily today's theme at the stable was Blessi and the farm animals so there were lots of cute pictures to share. Here is Blessi with one of the goats. Note Blessi likes goats, the goat is shy around horses, and the nearest horse is sure the goat is going to eat him.