Thursday, May 31, 2018

Viking Reenactment Humor

For all of you Vikings at heart, here is a tour of a reenactment encampment in Trondheim. Lots of great historical touches and some crazy humor. Are you sick and tired of having your ax stuck in the bodies of your enemies? Be sure and watch at minute 2:04 for Honest Ulf's solution.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Do Icelandic Horses Like Belly Dancying

Agnieszka & Fabiana perform their Shimmy By Fire dance to a herd of Icelandic horses  in Iceland.  As the dancers note, the horses don't look too impressed.  I wonder if they had performed facing the horses, rather than the camera, if the results would be different.

It is such a shame that the camera tipped over and their heads were not recorded.  The dance is brilliant.  Here's a link to a video of them dancing at Gunnhuver Hot Springs.  The cold does limit costuming choices.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Horses of Iceland Marketing Plan

Various stakeholders in Icelandic horse breeding, showing, and training in Icelandic have pulled together a marketing plan for the Icelandic horse. Not only has the group been producing some great videos, they have set up a website called "The Horses of Iceland" which provides a wonderful overview of the horse and its heritage.
"In Iceland, the horses are actually the only domesticated animal that is kept outdoors all year around still today, and if they have good land to graze on with natural shelter, they might not need any extra feeding at all and still be fat and healthy by spring. The Icelandic terrain is vast and rugged and the horses learn from early on how to move easily on the uneven ground, cope with mountains and crags, and crossing rivers. This makes the horses both couragous and powerful, and many continental riders find that horses raised in Iceland have something a bit special, due to their natural upbringing with minimum human interference. Courage, curiosity, self-reliance and calm – these are the shaping factors of nature."

You can go to this site to find out more about the branding of Icelandic horses and upcoming world wide events.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Regency Riding Habits

Here are examples of Regency riding habits. I especially like the plate that features the-tie-the-rider-to-the-saddle tack.  When looking at fashion plates of regency outfits, you can tell a riding habit from a general outdoors outfit because the model carries a riding crop even if she is not pictured with a horse.

One of my planned sewing projects is to make a Regency riding habit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Horse Round Up at Laufskálarétt, Iceland

Some great aerial footage of the horse roundup in Laufskálarétt, Iceland. These aren't wild horses but horses that the local farmers turn loose in the highlands for summer grazing. Note some of the horses don't want to swirl around aimlessly--they want to go in one of the pens--perhaps to be with people they know?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Blessi and the Barn Decorations

Ever wonder why the photos of Blessi in the barn usually show him in the cross ties? When he stands so nicely for tacking up? This is why. Even on one cross tie, he managed to knock down this wall decoration when I turned my back for a second. I hurriedly restored to its original position. And if you notice, Blessi is on one cross tie. If he hadn't been, I would have been picking up all the items he dumped out of the tack box.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Horses Using Symbols to Communicate

Great summary of the recent research in Norway that taught horses to use symbols to communicate with their caretakers as to whether or not the horses wanted their blankets on or off.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Kulning or How to Sing Your Livestock Home

Jonna Jinton demonstrates the ancient Nordic skill of Kulning or how to sing your livestock back home in Sweden.
Here's a link exlaining Kulning.
And here's a video determining how well it works.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Tails of Iceland--Upcoming Documentary

For a thousand years, Icelanders have had a special bond with their horses.  ArtasAir is producing a  documentary "Tails of Iceland" about this relationship.  "It is about the culture and the connection, and there have been as many stories as there are thousands of years since these horses were brought to this fiercely unforgiving and magnificent island. Our goal is to capture some of the tales and a lot of the history, but more importantly, to illustrate how deep this unique kinship goes."  Expected is in early 2019.  I love the segment when a young horse puts its head through the fence to play with the reins of an older horse about to go on a trek. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Horses Read Emotion from Photos

I have been showing Blessi the video of my grandniece MacKenzie playing her saxaphone.  Researchers showed horses a photo of a person who was happy or scowling.  Later the horses met those people in person.  Not only did the horses recognize the person from her photo but they showed signs of stress if the photo showed the person as angry.

So Blessi will recognize Kenzie but what will he think about her saxophone playing?

Here's a link to a great study. 
Beware the long face: horses remember your mood

Friday, May 11, 2018

Nina Chung explores trauma through photos of Icelandic Horses

Nina Chung uses her photography to explore trauma and abuse.  Her subject often include horses and dancers.  Her current exhibition, “Wind Spirit Speaks,” at Hygienic Art Galleries in New London uses photos of horses from the Dakotas and Stonington to "express her own inner turmoil."

"Chung had traveled to Iceland to experience the country’s incredible landscape — one that she describes as the 'meeting point of fire and ice, a fascinating duality in itself.'  It was there she discovered the power and healing capabilities of horses after witnessing a black herd running across a black volcanic landscape 'against a raging snowstorm.'"

"From there, Chung’s fascination with these animals propelled her into a years-long photo exploration of horses, both in Iceland and in North and South Dakota. She photographed Icelandic horses for 18 months after that first trip, traveling back and forth from New York City. In one instance, Chung witnessed a herd of horses being rounded up and penned for their slaughter. Those photos (which are neither composited or on view in her exhibit but can be requested from Chung over her website) are also visceral, brimming with terror, entrapment and panic."

Source:  You can view samples of Chung's work, including the photogaph "Icelandic horses are herded in a storm for slaughter", in this article by Mary Biekert in The Day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

New Help for Horses with Summer Eczema

Researchers at University of Zurich and University of Bern has devised a new treatment for horses with chronic allergy-related problems based on research with Icelandic horses.  Icelandics tend to be very sensitive to insect bites, especially culicoides, since they are not found in Iceland.

"They developed a new vaccine therapy based on virus-like nanoparticles, which serves as a carrier of a so-called T-cell epitope, an enhancer of the body’s immune response....Thirty-four affected Icelandic horses participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical study conducted by a research team headed by Antonia Fettelschoss-Gabriel from the University Hospital Zurich and the University of Zurich. Nineteen horses were vaccinated, 15 were given a placebo.
The vaccine consisted of two interconnected components. The first component activates the immune system based on the mentioned virus-like nanoparticle. The second component is IL-5, a specific molecule that regulates the development and activation of so-called eosinophils, which play a significant role in allergies."

The treated group has substantially less skin lesions.  Note that the treatment is expected to work with both dogs and horses and possibly, based on future research, humans suffering from asthma.  The article has some excellent diagrams.  If I am interpreting them correctly, it looks like the new vaccine essentially turns off the body sending an "itch" feeling to the brain.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Equus will be publishing my article on Equine Epistaxis

Several years ago, Blessi experienced a spontaneous nose bleed or equine epistaxis.  He was dripping gouts of blood from both nostrils.  Even though there was no swelling and Blessi seemed to be in no discomfort, I called the veterinarian.  He described several conditions that could be causing the bleeding that ranged from a foreign body in the nasal passage to Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage, to Guttural Pouch Fungal Infection, etc.

Dr. Weeks ran an endoscope up Blessi's nasal passage to find he was bleeding from the sigmoid area.  Best diagnosis was that Blessi had had some sort of stupid pasture accident and was bleeding internally due to blunt force trauma of some sort (not a horse kick since there was no swelling around the head).  The vet was not too worried and the bleeding slowed down and stopped in a few days with no further treatment.

I wrote up what I learned about equine epistaxis in a Case Study to help other horse owners.  Equus magazine informed me yesterday that they will be publishing my article in some future edition.

Poor Blessi!  You should have seen the expression on his face when Dr. Weeks ran a 16 inch endoscope up the nasal passage.  Blessi was surprised for the first few seconds but then settled down to see if there was a carrot reward involved in the process.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Birkebeinerne --Norweigian Film

In 2016, the film Birkebeinerne, or The Last King, was released in Norway.  It is based on historical events in 1206 AD about the civil war in Norway in which the poor rebels, known as birchlegs due to the poorness of their leg coverings, spirited two-year-old Haakon Haakonsson, heir to the Norwegian throne, to safety on skiis.   The producers were going after historical accuracy--one aspect of which is that the Norse are riding Icelandic, Nortlund, and Fjord horses.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Icelandic Horses Ride Public Transportation in Reykjavik

As reported on the Iceland Monitor, Strætó, the public transportation company in Reykjavik, published a photo of an Icelandic horse being led off a bus.  "The public transport -Strætó- in Iceland is quite laid back, allowing all kinds of passengers to take the ride as you can see on the 📸. We at @horsesoficeland think that this is the case only because our horses are so well behaved."  Gotta love the temperament of the Icelandic horses and public transportation companies.

I don't own the IP to this photo but you can view it at this link. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Distance to Set Cavalletti Poles for Gaited Horses

I have gone to several clinics that use ground poles for exercises as part of the session.  During a Western clinic, the instructor put up poles for a group trot exercise.  Most of the horses were Quarter Horses so the trot poles were placed rather close together suitable for their slow, joggy trot.  Blessi has a big trot, long strided trot for an Icelandic.  Blessi's trot strides were very uneven as we struggled with the timing over the poles.  Of course, the instructor placed the poles to benefit most of the class and Blessi and were outliers.

Jec Ballou, who has experience with many breeds of horses including Icelandics, is the author of several training books including 55 Corrective Exercises for Horses and   Equine Fitness.  Cavelletti  work is important for both gaited and non-gaited breeds but ground pole exercises are great for both gaited and non-gaited breeds.  She has written a great post on how to determine the spacing of ground poles for gaited breeds based on the stride length unique to your horse.  Here are her directions.

"Simple Ground Pole Set-up for Gaited Breeds
  1. Set four or five ground poles parallel to each other in a line (so that you can ride straight across them). Space the poles at a distance of 8 feet* apart.
  2. Now develop your working gait (Tolt, Foxtrot, Running Walk, etc.)
  3. Ride straight across the poles.
  4. You should count TWO steps from your horse between each pole. For instance, each front foot should take a step in the space between the poles before crossing over the next pole.
  5. Your rhythm should feel like this: CROSS the pole, One-Two, CROSS the pole, One-Two, CROSS the pole, and so on… Feel for those beats and aim to keep them consistent each time you ride over the poles.
  6. Repeat the pattern at least 12 times.
**this is an average spacing for a horse about 15.2 hands tall. If you ride a horse with a shorter stride, you will modify the spacing suggestion by 2-3 inches."

You can view the entire article via this link: