Thursday, July 18, 2019

2016 World Equestrian Festival

At the 2016 World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany, the best horses and riders in the world compete in dressage, jumping, eventing, driving, and vaulting watched by 350,000 attendees. Cosponsored by Sweden, the opening ceremonies included Icelandic horses, royalty, mounted knights, and the most amazingly pink dalarhästars.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Riding Icelandics in Grand Gourmet Tour of France

Can you imaging riding Icelandics from vineyard to vineyard, from medieval town to medieval town, sipping wine and dining on exquisite French cuisine?  Here's a video to help.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Brúará River in Iceland circa 1900

Ever wonder why Icelandics tend to be calm, confident, and agile? These riders are crossing a bridge in (not over) the Brúará River in Iceland, circa 1900. Photo from Cornell University, Frederick Howell collection.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Training,Trust, and Leadership

Here's a video from Koudbloed Kim showing how much fun you can have with your horses if you establish a bond of leadership with trust.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Behind the Scenes of Printing Hestur Book

Samy Berkani is publishing a new book, Hestur, about the Icelandic horses.  Here is a fascinating look at the printing process for publishing a book with amazing photos of this breed.



Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A Poem for Blessi

I won a small group writing contest for producing a humorous story.  The prize I selected was a poem about Blessi, who certainly deserves a book of verses.  For your reading pleasure, here is:

To Blessi
by Gabriel Stevenson

A horse is a horse of course,
But this horse is a Viking.
To my eternal liking,
He embodies the Norse.
Intelligence and force
This equine proudly displays.
When he works and plays,
This horse is something grand,
Pride of an Icy Land,
And heir of bygone days.
*
Land of Ice and Fire,
Like J.R.R. described.
When in Iceland you ride,
This is the steed you desire.
Sure, the Clydesdale is much higher,
And the Arab has more speed;
Over every other breed,
The Lipizzaner is most royal,
But the Icelander is most loyal
In the hour of your need.
*
You might think it funny
Or say it was a ruse
To see a horse dressed as a moose,
But this one’s sweet as honey.
Groomer of cats and bunnies,
Glutton for donuts and apples,
Herder of zombies and cattle,
He’s gentle as a lamb,
But strong too, like a ram,
When you’re in the saddle.
*
We feared that this horse we had lost
That our steed of valor,
We’d meet in Valhalla,
O’er the rainbow bridge Bifrost.
But his time had not yet come to cross.
For his health, Þakka Æsir.
He’s not fancy or dressy,
But he’s more than just a horse.
These verses without remorse,
I dedicate to Blessi.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Ultrasound of Two Icelandic Mares

Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet, conducts an ultrasound on two Icelandic mares to determine if they are pregnant.  The mares belong to Bernie Sanders in Alaska.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Equine intelligence as success factor in harness racing

Personally I think equine intelligence is often underrated.
Harness racing--Source: Wikipedia


Researchers in Sweden and Norway have been examining harness racing success among Norwegian-Swedish Coldblooded trotters based on eight genes, relating to physical qualities and intelligence. Equine brains do matter.

As the author of The Horse article notes: "Sure, a harness race winner needs to be fast. But he’s also got to adjust to—and even anticipate—his driver’s demands, navigate around other horses and their sulkies, and, most importantly, not break into gallop even when trotting at high speeds. And there are genes for that—ones that code for intelligence."

Trotter success in the study was related to the genes related to the horse's ability to learn and remember possibly because such horses adapted faster during the race, were less stressed, and adapted to driver's signals faster.

https://thehorse.com/170242/harness-racing-success-linked-to-intelligence-genes/

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ford Commercial with Icelandic Horses

From Norway comes a commercial for Ford trucks used in the filming of "Horse Powers from the Land of the Vikings," an entry in the Equus film festival of 2016.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Icelandic Nature and Horses

Here's another gorgeous video of Icelandic landscapes and the horses that inhabit them.  Many thanks to The Nature, The Nature for sharing.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Bridless Mounted Archery with Icelandics

Alex Schwartz shared this video of her practicing mounted archery on Icelandics Kongur the King and Tinja the Shaman without a bridle.  Eventually,they will be shooting in the forest.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Blessi and the Argentinian Fry Bread

Some friends and I went to an Argentinian themed lunch.  The group insisted the last piece of fry bread be saved for Blessi.  Judy fed it to him as a treat after a lovely ride.  Blessi thought this was the best "doughnut" ever.  He was willing to bow and do other tricks to earn more.



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Horse Research over Past Five Millenium

Bayeaux Tapestry
On May 2, 2019, almost 100 researchers across multiple countries published a years long study on the horse genome in the past five millennium using about 1/3 previously unsequenced equine skeletal remains.

The major results are:

"-Two now-extinct horse lineages lived in Iberia and Siberia some 5,000 years ago•
- Iberian and Siberian horses contributed limited ancestry to modern domesticates•
- Oriental horses have had a strong genetic influence within the last millennium•
- Modern breeding practices were accompanied by a significant drop in genetic diversity"

Sarah Sloat in a popular summary in Inverse magazine states:
"Today, domesticated horses reflect the traits that were selected during this time period for body shape. Think of the Icelandic horse:  a small, hairy, and hardy breed. The horses that lived across Europe during the 7th century looked like them, but today, they look like much more the horses Islamic conquerors were breeding for favorable traits."

There are lots of interesting facts buried in this research such as:

  • Mules were being bred as early as the Iron Age despite the cost implications of breeding sterile offspring.
  • The Paleolithic cave paintings of horses in Europe that look like Przewalski’s horses are more likely ancestors of the Tarpan horse that went extinct.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Purrfect Ride

Emma Massingale has trained her pony Comet and cat Louis to go on long rides together.  Emma also took her two Shetlands on a sail back to the Shetland Islands to visit.

So Blessi and his cat Mittens are not unique.  Do notice that the cat, like Mittens, has discovered that the best place to perch is facing forward on the sweet spot where the saddle would normally sit.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Riding Icelandics on a Camping Trip in Sweden

An enchanting video about riding Icelandics on a camping trip toward Sweden's highest mountain, Kebnekaise.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Strandbeest--wind eating beasts on the beach

This is awesome!!! And think about how it would make a wonderful bombproofing exercise for horses.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Equus Story of the Horse Filmed in Iceland


Horses of Iceland has published part of the trailer for the new documentary Equus Worldwide tht features four horse breeds, including the Icelandic.  The series can be viewed at Horse and Country TV and, perhaps, PBS. 


Monday, May 27, 2019

Blessi Tries to Earn a Treat





After Blessi had his teeth floated, I sat in my lawn chair and read to block Blessi's access to the outside and grass as he recovered from the sedation.


Blessi always lets me know when he has recovered.  He walked over to the chair and started flipping pages in my book.  If he has enough fine motor control in his lips to flip a page without ripping it, he is ready to eat. 

When I got up from the chair, I moved it away from the exit.  Blessi surprised me.  
He started experimenting with the chair.  Do I earn a treat if I shake the chair?  
How about if I knock it over?   
Did Pam leave some peanuts on the seat?  (I had some peanuts in my pocket
so I am convinced that some of the odor must have transferred to the seat of the chair.  He doesn't usually spend a lot of time sniffing seats.  Boy, would Blessi do well if he got to work the entry line at US Customs and he got to check for peanuts, apples, and oranges.)  In between experiments, he put his nose to the camera to determine if he had achieved the threshold of innovative behavior required for a treat.

Later we on a long walk in search of the greenest grass.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Research Lavender as Aromatherapy for Horses

From Wikipedia.
Some trainers have claimed that the scent of lavender acts as a natural calmer for horses. One trainer used small dabs of diluted pure lavender (purity is important) to the high energy, reactive horses in a clinic. Even the heads of the more energetic horses lowered and they seemed calmer. The trainer said my horse Blessi was already quite calm and didn't need the scent of lavender. The audience persuaded her to try a bit, at which point Blessi started to follow her like she was covered in peanuts.

Research backs her up. Previous research found that horses exposed to stressors such as blasts from air horns exhibited significant reduction in stress when receiving sniffs of lavender from diffusers as shown by quicker returns to normal heart rates.
Researchers at University of Arizona looked at lavender aromatherapy in the absence of stressors. They measured heart rate and variability of dressage horses standing in a paddock.

""The heart rate didn't change; what changed is what's called the parasympathetic component of heart rate variability," Baldwin explained. "One of the parameters of heart rate variability is RMSSD, and that represents parasympathetic input, which is the relaxation part of the autonomic nervous system. If RMSSD goes up, that indicates the horse is relaxed. We found that when the horses were sniffing the lavender, RMSSD significantly increased compared to baseline.""

"The data were supported by the horses' observed behavior, which often included relaxation signals such as neck lowering and licking and chewing while the lavender was being inhaled." The relaxation persisted as long as the horse smelled the lavender.

They concluded that if a horse is nervous under conditions like shoeing that the owner could rub dab of lavender oil on her hands and let the horse smell them during the shoeing process.

Hum, I wonder if Blessi would like lavender sugar cookies?  I sure do.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180728084141.htm

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ecology of (Icelandic) Horse-Human Relationships

Dona Davis, Anita Maurstad, and Sarah Cowles in their research paper "“Riding up forested
mountain sides, in wide open spaces, and with walls”: developing an ecology of horse-human relationships" examined the relationships between horses and humans as a result of the environment in which they interact.  Per Davis et al, "When we began this study our intention was to examine horse-human relationships as points of entanglements, most particularly forms of bond or bonding in a variety of environmental settings and equestrian sports. What we did not anticipate was the degree to which discourse on environment, as terrain traversed by horse and rider together, would be used to construct a shared sense of identity between horse and rider." The results are based on 60 interviews with horse owners who ride dressage, endurance, cross country, and trail riding in the US Midwest and northern Norway.


Because of the Norway connection, many participants talk about their experiences with Icelandic horses.  The discussion helped me to better understand the phrase "riding in the nature" and the passion with which Icelandic horse owners in Europe and Iceland regard this concept.

"The narratives show that the Norwegian informants, although less self-revealing (compared to Americans), speak more about the environment as a “nature” to be seen and experienced in a unique way on the horse than is the case for any of the other sport groups or equestrian cultures in our study. Katla’s statement about riding as a good way to be out in nature and Urder’s that “riding is with animals and nature too,” are reminiscent of Pálsson’s (Biosociality 74) description of ancient Scandinavians as seeing their lands as an extension of their own nature. Maurstad (37) also describes how contemporary north Norwegians open their selves up to and embody the very land- and sea-scapes that surround them. Narratives illustrate how riding a horse in nature engages the senses and the emotions. Katla, savoring the fresh mountain air, allows her horse to take the lead and to go where the horse wishes, and feels good being connected with her horse and with the nature that surrounds them."

As the researchers point out about the riders of Icelandic horses in Norway: "Surrounded by the “nature” they seek, unlike the dressage riders and eventers who must have their terrains engineered with predictable elements, and the endurance riders who travel to good and mixed terrains, the Norwegian narratives privilege depictions of a varied terrain or environment that is always there, all year round. The horse becomes a strategy for getting into it, travelling over it, and letting it come over you."


You can read the entire report at the link below:
https://www.depauw.edu/humanimalia/issue%2008/davis%20et%20al.html

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Blessi and the Shovel

Why do I usually put Blessi in cross ties?  So I don't spend hours cleaning up his explorations.  One day I had him in a single cross tie.  I turned my back for a second and he started maneuvering to grab some leftover alfalfa on the ground.  He also managed to use his butt to knock the shovel off the wall, which landed on his butt.  

His head did go up.  But then he got this look on his face as if to say "I meant to do that."

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Riding Icelandic Horses Through Lapland, Finland

Here's some beautiful footage of riding Icelandic horses through the pines and plains of Lapland under the Midnight Sun.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Origination of Horse Breeds in the American Colonies

Dr Deb Bennett just published another wonderful article on breed origination. 2016 September's issue of Equus Magazine includes her article "Horses of the American Colonies." Because of the lack of good roads, most of the horses in the colonies in the early 1600s were short, round bodied, muscular amblers. Using Hobbies, or small gaited horses from England/Ireland mixed in with some other breeds, Captain Hull in Rhode Island started breeding Narragansettl Pacers in the late 1600s, the first American breed. These horses were sold to the American south and exported to the Indies and other areas for plantation use. 

Dr. Bennett goes on to explain how the founding strain of imported horses led to the development of later American breeds. "All the riding horse breeds with roots in the original 13 colonies--including the Morgan, American Standardbred, Tennessee Walking Horse and the American Quarter Horse--descend from four strains first imported from Europe during the 17th century These were the English-Irish Hobby, the Breton-Canadian, the Scottish Garron and the Dutch (Flenish) "Hartdraaver." Dr. Bennett goes on to explain that Hartdraaver is a period name for the Friesian. English Thoroughbreds did not come into the mix until after the revolutionary war.

Note Hobbies, which no longer exist, looked like the contemporary Kerry Bog or Icelandic horse. I am endlessly amused visualizing Paul Revere tolting an Icelandic-looking horse, a chestnut with flaxen mane and tail of course, on his Midnight Ride through Massachuchetts--which may be more historically accurate than a trot or gallop.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Ambling Horses in the American Colonies

Dr Deb Bennett just published another wonderful article on breed origination. September's issue of Equus Magazine includes her article "Horses of the American Colonies." Because of the lack of good roads, most of the horses in the colonies in the early 1600s were short, round bodied, muscular amblers. Using Hobbies, or small gaited horses from England/Ireland mixed in with some other breeds, Captain Hull in Rhode Island started breeding Narragansettl Pacers in the late 1600s, the first American breed. These horses were sold to the American south and exported to the Indies and other areas for plantation use. 

Dr. Bennett goes on to explain how the founding strain of imported horses led to the development of later American breeds. "All the riding horse breeds with roots in the original 13 colonies--including the Morgan, American Standardbred, Tennessee Walking Horse and the American Quarter Horse--descend from four strains first imported from Europe during the 17th century These were the English-Irish Hobby, the Breton-Canadian, the Scottish Garron and the Dutch (Flenish) "Hartdraaver." Dr. Bennett goes on to explain that Hartdraaver is a period name for the Friesian. English Thoroughbreds did not come into the mix until after the revolutionary war.

Note Hobbies, which no longer exist, looked like the contemporary Kerry Bog or Icelandic horse. I am endlessly amused visualizing Paul Revere tolting an Icelandic-looking horse, a chestnut with flaxen mane and tail of course, on his Midnight Ride through Massachuchetts--which may be more historically accurate than a trot or gallop.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Blessi and the Apple Paddle






Several summers ago, Blessi and I attended a Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) tourney. One of the most challenging obstacles did not involve throwing a lance or chopping a head off a bandit--oh no, Blessi was fine with all that. The tricky part involved an apple.

One challenge consisted of balancing an apple on
a paddle, carrying the apple to an elevated box, and dropping it in. So Lord Johannes, the equestrian marshal, puts the apple on the paddle that I am carrying. And what does Blessi do? He starts circling to the right to chase the apple. He was convinced that the apple was a treat for him and if we circled enough he could get that apple.





After he stopped laughing, Lord Johannes
walked in front of us--calling "This way Blessi"--to get Blessi to stop circling. We followed him and successfully dropped the apple into the box.


Several summers ago, Blessi and I attended a Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) tourney. One of the most challenging obstacles did not involve throwing a lance or chopping a head off a bandit--oh no, Blessi was fine with all that. The tricky part involved an apple.

One challenge consisted of balancing an apple on
a paddle, carrying the apple to an elevated box, and dropping it in. So Lord Johannes, the equestrian marshal, puts the apple on the paddle that I am carrying. And what does Blessi do? He starts circling to the right to chase the apple. He was convinced that the apple was a treat for him and if we circled enough he could get that apple.





After he stopped laughing, Lord Johannes
walked in front of us--calling "This way Blessi"--to get Blessi to stop circling. We followed him and successfully dropped the apple into the box.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Toppur Club Celebrates Icelandic Horse Day on Local News

Toppur, an Icelandic horse club in Iowa, staged a wonderful public relations event.   To publicize the International Icelandic Horse Day, the club arranged an eight minute-segment celebrating this horse breed on Iowa Local 5 News.  What a great way to  show off the calm demeanor and cuteness factor of the breed.

Just one note, my research shows that  the Norse did not use the Icelandic horse as war horses because they did not fight from horse back except on some very rare occasions. 

 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Leadership is not a rank

Kouldbloed Kim produced this video "Leadership is a choice, not a rank."  In the absence of any explanatory information, I believe this may be a TED talk of human leadership overlaying video of working with horses.  I love the crux of the video--horse can choose to see us as leaders by building a relationship.  Several research studies have shown that rank in a horse herd is a very fluid concept depending on circumstances, which horses are in mini-groupings, whether the mares are present, etc.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sanjak Long Crower Rooster

If you have never heard of the Sanjak Long Crower, you really need to hear a Sanjak Long Crower.

Many of the long crowing chicken breeds originate from the Balkans from the Ottoman period.  "The name comes from the ability of roosters to prolong a crow for an exceptionally long time, which distinguishes them from all other domestic and wild chicken breeds. Within the group, breeds differ with respect to the timbre, crow duration and power. Usually, the crowing itself lasts from 10 to 20 seconds, while in some Denizli and Kosovо Longcrower roosters–up to 60 seconds and more.  It is believed that this mutation in chickens emerged in Asia, approximately 2000 years ago. The first reports on longcrowing roosters are from Ancient China, and several centuries later in Japan."

Source: http://www.aviculture-europe.nl/nummers/17E03A11.pdf
).

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Relationship Between Mustang, Barb, and Arabian

After the filming of the movie Hildago, Viggo Mortensen commissioned a report on the origins and the relationship between the mustang, Barb, and Arabian horses, the breeds involved in the making of the movie. Dr. Deb Bennett researched and wrote the article, which also mentions gaited horses. Here is a link to the article.

http://media.wix.com/ugd/d9e31f_1501543a3f73a163f02226c7439fcee5.pdf

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Valentino's Renaissance Collection

As I am trying to develop more historically accurate garb for SCA events, I came across Valentino's
fall collection inspired by the Renaissance--tied on sleeves, Elizabethean collars, Harlequin treatments, velvets, brocades, puffed shoulders--amazing!!!

http://aeworld.com/fashion/fashion-women/trends-women/a-poetic-renaissance-collection-at-valentino-haute-couture-fall-2016/

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Another Icelandic-Quarter Horse Cross


I am not advocating crossing Icelandics with any other breed.  I am interested in what said cross looks like.  Pyrite or Pie is an Icelandic Quarter horse cross.  He seems to have inherited the best from both sire and dam, including a copy of the gaited gene. 

PS I know nothing about this trainer or horse other than what shows up in the video.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Yarrow's photo of White Horses in Iceland


In this video, David Yarrow explains how he captured this dramatic photo of a white Icelandic horse running in front of the whitecaps on the beach in Iceland.  The weather was so bad that his team was almost unable to get off the plane but such contrasts, as he explains, can make for the most dramatic pictures.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Greg Lake--Moonchild Looking for His Sunchild

Greg Lake was lead singer of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer and a soloist; He wrote the popular Christmas song "I Believe in Father Christmas. Lake died last year after a long struggle with cancer.

Here is a link to Moonchild. Here's hoping Lake found his sunchild.

"Dropping circle stones on a sun dial
Playing hide and seek
with the ghosts of dawn
Waiting for a smile from a sun child."

Monday, April 15, 2019

Gudmar Petursson Training


You may be familiar with Gudmar Petursson through his appearance on the Rick Lamb TV show, Knights of Iceland high speed riding demonstrations, involvement with Fakasel (think Cavalia) Icelandic Horse Park near Thorlakshofn. Or his competitions rides at national and international levels. Gudmar and his family began importing Icelandic horses to the US in the late 1990s. Gudmar selected Blessi for import 12 years ago (thank you Gudmar).

Gudmar is also well know for his training. For those of you who want to know more about how Gudmar trains to see if you can take advantage of Gudmar's quality elearnings on how to train, here are some links:

Stan Hirson has capture some of Gudmar's lessons and put them up on youtube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a9n8H2SUCE&list=PLu3XNly5-4bWeR4RNXhGKlXUMbu3JOPqP

Gudmar TV:

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Socatra Isle of Dragonblood Trees

Here's another destination on my bucket list--Socotra, Island of the Dragonblood Trees, in the Arabian Sea. One third of the plant and animal life is unique to this island which results in some of the most fantastical scenery on earth. Beaches are amazing. Interior tours are done by camel or jeep.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Icelandic Horses in Slovenia

Here's a lovely video of a father-daughter ride on Icelandic horses through the forests and mountain meadows of Slovenia.  How lovely to be accompanied by the Pyrenees mountain dog Zir.  I am glad to see that it is not just me and even riders in Slovenia have difficult preventing their horses from leaf browsing along the trail. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Stomp Your Feet to Raudi Riddaurin -- The Red Knight


Emmaus High School Chorale sings "Raudi Riddaurin," which is translated as the Red Knight.  This folk song was written by Hreidar Ingi.   The singers stomp their feet to sound like the "din of hooves" of proud Icelandic horses.

Here is a translation:
"Svo einmana verður enginn,
No one is ever so lonely,
að ekki sé von á gesti,
That they can't expect a guest,
riddara í rauðum klæðum,
A rider (knight) in red clothing
sem ríður bleikum hesti.
who rides a pale horse
Riddari í rauðum klæðum,
A rider in red clothing,
með rjúkandi sigð í höndum,
with a smoking sickle in hand,
hleypir, svo hófana dynur
rides, so the din of hoofs
heyrist í öllum löndum.
is heard in every land.
Riddari í rauðum klæðum,
A rider in red clothing,
með rjúkandi sigð í höndum,
with a smoking sickle in hand,
hleypir, svo hófana dynur
rides, so the din of hoofs
heyrist í öllum löndum.
is heard in every land."

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Blessi and I had a wonderful day this week.  My day was better than Blessi's since Blessi had his teeth floated. After the vet left, I sat in my lawn chair and read to block Blessi's access to the outside and grass as he recovered from the sedation.

Blessi always lets me know when he has recovered.  He walked over to the chair and started flipping pages in my book.  If he has enough fine motor control in his lips to flip a page without ripping it, he is ready to eat. 

When I got up from the chair, I moved it away from the exit.  Blessi surprised me.  He started experimenting with the chair.  Do I earn a treat if I shake the chair?  How about if I knock it over?  Did Pam leave some peanuts on the seat?  
 
 
 
(I had some peanuts in my pocket so I am convinced that some of the odor must have transferred to the seat of the chair.  He doesn't usually spend a lot of time sniffing seats.  Boy, would Blessi do well if he got to work the entry line at US Customs and he got to check for peanuts, apples, and oranges.)  
 
In between experiments, he moved closer to me to determine if he had achieved the threshold of innovative behavior required for a treat.


I didn't want to chance feeding a treat but I did take Blessi out for a long walk in search of the greenest grass.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Blessi Dressed for a Wedding

To take your mind off the political situation, here is a photo of Blessi dressed for his role of carrying a bride in her wedding.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Moab, Utah, on Icelandic Horses

I've posted a bunch of videos of trekking in Iceland through its unique landscape. Here is an interesting and uniquely American trek on Icelanidc horses through Moab, Utah, posted by Sueanne Clark. The landscapes are very different but the smiles of the riders are the same. And I did not know Icelandic horses wear feathered hats in the desert.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Pignon Liberty Training Methods


Here's a very interesting video of Frederic et JF Pignon demonstrating their liberty training methods. 
You can turn on the subtitles by clicking the "Settings" button, which looks like a cog wheel, and selecting English as the subtitle.
Jean-Francois talks about the importance of being the horse's leader and making it move; whereas Frederic discusses the importance of play and physical contact but always returning to a place of calm. It is notso much being dominant but fullfilling all the horse's needs. The basis of work should be pleasure. The challenge is how to create that sense of pleasure without creating a sense of discomfort.
I am picking up so many other good points, in addition to just watching these beautiful creatures dance for joy. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Do horses get sea sick?

Siberian ponies on the Terra Nova ship
during voyage to the South Pole
Yes, horses get sea sick.  Because they can't throw up, they colic instead.  Per Live Science"

"When Earnest Shackleton trekked to the Antarctic, he brought ponies (and whiskey) with him to help. According to his journals, those ponies didn’t fare so well on the water. They, like many people, responded to the pitching seas with confusion and dizziness. But because horses cannot vomit — the sphincter that goes from their esophagus to their stomachs is too tight — they experience colic instead. But even though they didn’t lose their lunches, the ponies were definitely seasick."





After the original hay ran out, Shackleton fed the horses a meat based diet.  “It consisted of dried beef, carrots, milk, currants and sugar, and was chosen because it provides a large amount of nourishment with comparatively little weight.”  Several of the early Arctic and Antarctic explorations fed meat to their ponies.

Although the ponies survived the sea voyage, none of them survived the unsuccessful trek to the South Pole

For more information, you can read the article at the link below:
https://www.livescience.com/33771-animals-seasick.html

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Horse Ferry on Lopez Island in the Pacific Northwest

One owner has come up with a unique way to "ferry" her horse from island to island among the San Juans in the Pacific Northwest.  After the first few sails, Blessi would probably be more interested in the hay bag.  Do horses get seasick?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Aberdeen Beastiary

The Aberdeen Beastiary just went on-line. This 12th century medieval English manuscript which
The attached photo comes from Adam naming the animals.
uses tales of animals to teach moral lessons. The book is wondrously illustrated and written in Latin.

If you click on the what looks like a timeline under the photo, you can access the original Latin with English translation, scholarly commentary, etc.

A new digital version has been uploaded by Aberdeen University, accessible here.
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary/ms24/f5r

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Relationship of Spooking and Whirl Directions


Dr. Temple Grandin and associates recently published the article "Behavioral Laterality and Facial Hair Whorls in Horses." When faced with a novel stimulus, in this case the sudden opening of an umbrella, "The horses with clockwise facial hair whorls turned to the right and the horses with counterclockwise facial hair whorls turned to the left more than would be expected by chance." Location of facial whirl seemed to have no impact.

Hum, the one time I saw Blessi have a major spook, he teleported almost 360 to the right, which is the direction of his facial whorl, I think. I will check tomorrow. Of course what does this mean for horses that have multiple facial whorls going in different directions.

Does anybody else have any observations to offer?

Sources:

Friday, March 22, 2019

My Portraits of My Niece MacKenzie

Here is some of my original artwork. I used photos of my then newborn niece MacKenzie to execute pastel portraits in different impressionistic styles.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Aberdeen Bestiary Details

To show you the kind of detail produced by the new digital capture of the Aberdeen Bestiary, here is a close up of the hunter shooting a magpie from a tree, significance is unknown. In the second, a knight has stolen a tiger cub. 

"The tigress, when she finds her lair empty by the theft of a cub, follows the
tracks of the thief at once. When the thief sees that, even though he rides a swift horse, he is outrun by her speed, and that there is no means of escape at hand, he devises the following deception. When he sees the tigress drawing close, he throws down a glass sphere. The tigress is deceived by her own image in the glass and thinks it is her stolen cub. She abandons the chase, eager to gather up her young. Delayed by the illusion, she tries once again with all her might to overtake the rider and, urged on by her anger, quickly threatens the fleeing man. Again he holds up her pursuit by throwing down a sphere. The memory of the trick does not banish the mother's devotion. She turns over the empty likeness and settles down as if she were about to suckle her cub. And thus, trapped by the intensity of her sense of duty, she loses both her revenge and her child. "

Monday, March 18, 2019

Scratch and Sniff Test for a Dragon's Blood Tree


I am attempting to write a flash fiction short story "The Eve Recursion" set on Socotra Island in the Arabian Sea. Socotra broke off from Africa around 3 million years ago so one third of flora is endemic or found only on this island. At one point, the characters walk up to a Dragon's Blood tree. As an aspiring author, I though it would be cool to incorporate the scent--pine, cedar like, floral, whatever--into the scene. I did quite a bit of research but could find nothing about the scent of a Dragon's Blood tree or Dracaena cinnabari.

I found the Botanic Gardens Conservation International web site (BCGI.org) that has a worldwide database of plants. They sent out an email on my behalf to the 13 botanical gardens that have a Dracaena cinnabari specimen. (Told you it was a rare plant.) I love scientists!!!!! The Jardin Botanico in Madrid, Spain, answered my request. A worker did a scratch and sniff test on their young Dragon's Blood tree. There is no odor.

Interesting synergy that ended up in my short story. In Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych of “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, God and Adam and Eve stand under a Dragon's Blood tree.

Photo of Dragon's Blood Tree from Wikipedia courtesy of Boris Khvostichenko.
Photo of “The Garden of Earthly Delights” from Wikipedia courtesy of Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Can Dogs Tell Time Through Scent

Here's a fascinating video investigating if dogs have a sense of time through the fading scent of their owners. In other words, does a dog expect her owner home at 4:40 pm each day because the owner's scent fades out to a certain degree each day.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

1903 Film of Siberian Ponies in Ziegler Polar Expedition

From 1903 to 1905, Ziegler financed  expeditions to reach the North Pole, all of which failed.  Anthony Fiala, commander of the expeditions, used Siberian ponies, as well as dogs, to haul sledges  The second expedition set off with 26 men, 16 ponies, 16 sledges, 117 dogs, and 9 sledges from Norway. 

As Fiala said about the ponies, " These little creatures behaved so well and proved of such value that I made provision to take more of them this time."  The ponies did a better job than the dogs of pulling the sledges over rough, jagged ice but the dogs were faster on smooth surfaces.  The ponies were considered "meat on the hoof" unlike some of the later expeditions that planned for the ponies to survive. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Regency Femme and Her Baby Carrier

I am researching Regency riding habits so that I can make my own. The Regency era was one of the few historical periods that featured empire style lines rather than the wasp-waisted fashions of other periods--a distinct advantage when one does not have a waistline so much as an equator. I thought you might enjoy the following fashion plate from Vernet's Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1805, that illustrates what the well dressed femme does with her baby.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

How Many Ways to Say "To Be or Not To Be"

Oh my gosh, this is hysterical. How many ways can you interpret a Hamlet soliloquy?

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dog Plays Keep Away with MiniHorse

Clever German Shepherd has found a way to get the minihorse to play with him--just steal her ball.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Icelandic Horses are on the Ball

Mathilde and her "cheval islandais" Undur are really enjoying a game of soccer.  What is so great is that Mathilde is using a neckrein--no bridle--on her horse to play this game.  What enjoyment!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Touring Iceland by Horseback via Hestasport

A wonderful vision by Hestasport of vacationing in Iceland and viewing the sights by horseback.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Amazing Spiders

Who knew about all the marvelous adaptations of spiders--from cartwheeling spider to silkhenge spider to netcasting-ogre-faced spider to the mirror spider to urticating hair flicking spiders to the camel spider which will chase you to stand in your shade. And so many of these spiders have only recently been discovered. Guys be sure and check out any bunches of bananas that you buy because of the Brazilian Wandering Spider.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir --Icelandic Mystery Writer

The murder rate in Iceland is 20 times lower than the world average, which works out to be .3 murders per 100,000 people.  To put it another way, there were 25 murders in Iceland between 2000 and 2012. 

This has not stopped Iceland from producing some excellent mystery writers.  Recently, I read two books by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.  Someone to Watch Over Me and Day is Dark  feature her leading character Thora Gudmundsdottir, a lawyer.    Her books feature suspense, twisty plots, interesting characters, sly humor, and a touch of the supernatural, as one would expect in the land of trolls and ice.

The reader also gains insight into daily Icelandic life such as the devastation of personal finances caused by the failure of Icelandic banks resulting in Thora's parents having to move in with her, her children, and boyfriend Matthew from Germany. The constant fight to maintain dry, warm feet when dealing with the winter snows.  Or Iceland's unique cuisine as indicated by this passage:

"Mathew had managed to adapt to many aspects of Icelandic society, but taking cod liver oil was the exception.  Thora allowed him to skip it--he had enough to put with from her friends, who had all come up with the same idea when Matthey and Thora were invited to dinner or a party: to ply him with cured shark and brennivin."

My view of Iceland is so influenced by owning an Icelandic horse.  I assumed all Icelanders were avid riders and most owned horses.  I have read two books by Sigurðardóttir and no horses have turned up--cats, dogs, but no horses.

Monday, February 25, 2019

"Jack Spriggins, Villain" published in Bewildering Stories

In addition to blogging about my Icelandic horse Blessi, I write fiction and non-fiction articles for various publications.  E-magazine Bewildering Stories just published my fractured fairy tale "Jack Spriggins, Villain."  This exposé documents what really happened to the Geants of Cornwall and the impact of Brexit on this minority group. 

http://www.bewilderingstories.com/issue798/jack_spriggins.html 

You can check my other blog Pamela Nolf--Writing to A Muse for additional links to my work. 
https://pamelanolfwriting.blogspot.com/

Friday, February 22, 2019

Joy of Play among Icelandics...and a Draft?

Here's a wonderful little video of young Icelandic colts and a Draft youngster playing.  Mass chaos ensues.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Free on-line books from Metropolitan Museum of Art


If dismal hibernal weather is causing you to be housebound, you can check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art Web site for more than on-line shopping. The Met has made hundreds of their out-of-print books available on-line for both reading and downloading. Besides books on ceramics, armor, paintings, costume, and sculpture, you can check out such titles as:
- Ancient Egyptian Representations of Turtles
- Cochinreal Red: The Art History of a Color
- Andean Four Cornered Hats
- Li Kiung-lino Classics of Filial Piety

Some of the books feature horses. One of my favorites is "Man and the Horse: An Illustrated History of Equestrian Apparel. " It includes interesting information about ambling horses, and how to interpret what it means when the artist chose to depict a rider on a trotting horse versus an ambling horse.

Here is a link:

Monday, February 18, 2019

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Soapstone as Viking Cookware

Norse used pots carved from soapstone or steatite, which is mostly made of the mineral talc.  The stone is very soft and easily carved.  Many cultures used this stone for carving and cookware.   "In the Viking Age, however, the use of soapstone for pots and vessels virtually exploded and almost completely expelled the former pottery tradition [from Norway] to Denmark/Germany and possibly Iceland."

I have always wanted a soapstone cookpot because of its lovely look and cooking advantages such as heat retention.  It is delicate if exposed to sudden changes in temperature.  When I found a soapstone pot at a thrift store, I purchased it immediately.  Iron skillets are "seasoned"  but soapstone pots are "cured."  Uncured soapstone is a nondescript grey.  There are many ways to cure the pot.  I used the method of applying cooking oil (olive oil is what I selected) and placing the pot in a heated oven for gradually increasing amounts of time.  As you can see above, the stone turned a beautiful shades of dark gray with shiny flecks and streaks.  I can't wait till my next Society for Creative Anachronism encampment to show off my historically accurate pot.










Here is a link to an article on the Norse use of soapstone for cooking utensils. 
https://perstoremyr.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/2002_storemyr_heldal_soapstonehistorynorway.pdf

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Europa Regina and Iceland as Old Maps

Old maps can be such fascinating views not only into geographic features but as to how cultures view their world. The first map is Europa Regina first envisioned in the 1500s that shows Europe in the shape of a queen. This individual map circa 1530 AD was made for Holy Roman Emperor Charles V showing his claim to rule Europe with Iberia as the crown of his kingdom and Bohemia as its heart. Per Wikipedia, "The most obvious connections to the Holy Roman Emperor are the Carolingian crown and the imperial insignia - sceptre and orb. Another connection to Charles V is the gown, which resembles the contemporary dress code at the Habsburg court, and the face of the queen, which some say resembles Charles V's wife Isabella. As in contemporary portraits of couples, Europa regina has her head turned to her right and also holds the orb with her right hand, which has been interpreted as facing and offering power to her imaginary husband, the emperor."
The second map shows the 16th century view of of Iceland, surrounded by monsters of the deep.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Blessi as Laurel and Hardy Ladder Scene

Once upon a beautiful, sunny day in the Pacific Northwest. I spent most of the afternoon with Blessi. The pastures are very muddy so, being a smart horse, he doesn't run much on the slick surface. I took Blessi to the arena and let him run. As I was talking to a fellow boarder, I noticed that he seemed to be fixed on something near the viewing platform. I didn't think anything about it until I noticed that he had been doing something in that area for five minutes. Hum, maybe I should check this out..perhaps he has found a cup to play with and with his habit of flinging things I don't want to pay to replace any more drinking cups.

So I walked over and it was worse. The speakers to a stereo system had been mounted at just his height. He was running his nose over the surfaces looking for buttons to flip or pull. (Luckily speakers don't have knobs.) Blessi once removed all the magnets and markers off a stable bulletin board so he will "investigate" new items for amusement potential.

I diverted him and started to pull the trot poles out of the corner. I almost had to tie him to a post since he was so insistent that he was going to help. First, I put a pole down on the ground and he would nudge it with his nose to move it about. Then he started walking with me to retrieve the poles. I had to divert him again since the poles are heavy and awkward and he was trying to grab them. I just envisioned the two of us in a Laurel and Hardy ladder scene. The poles were stacked against the wall as shown in this scene.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Boots for Fuller Calves

For those of us with short, thick Icelandic horse style legs, here is a boot that I found that fits well and
still looks stylish. This Ariat Heritage has the same riding sole/heel as their paddock boots but it is much easier to get on than the tall English riding boots.

The boot decoration is a left over piece of a belt that I originally disassembled to make a period bridle for Blessi. Blingy jewelry that is perhaps too tacky to wear as personal jewelry makes great boot enhancements.

Notice the nice soft shine on the boot. While learning to make period bridles, I picked up the tip of using wax to buff a shine onto a boot. I used a cheap, white wax candle to rub a thick coat on the boot. I then took a soft rag to rub off the excess wax. This methods adds shine and a bit of waterproofing.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Female Elk Learn to Avoid Hunters


I am always fascinated by articles on how animals learn. Researchers have found that female elk develop more successful hunter avoidance strategies as they age. After age 10, the females are almost invulnerable. Bulls rarely make it past 5, whereas cows can live up to age 20.

"A team of scientists wanted to know: What makes senior cows so survival-savvy? Is it because these elk are more cautious by nature, which made them better at evading hunters all along? Or is it nurture, and cows can learn to dodge hunters over their lifetime, even if they start out more daring? It seems both factors are at play,..."

One observed strategy is that they will take to rough terrain when pursued by bow hunters. One researcher suspects that male elk could learn also but the males tend to be more heavily targeted by hunters both for trophy reasons and hunting regulations.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/15/science/female-elk-hunters.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=5&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2017%2F06%2F15%2Fscience%2Ffemale-elk-hunters.html&eventName=Watching-article-click&_r=0