Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Showing Kids How to Draw an Icelandic Horse

ToonBrush shows kids how to draw an Icelandic horse with character. What a beautiful result!

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Buster Keaton Moment with Icelandic Horses

The lengths owners will go to stage a photo opportunity with their horses.  And the lengths the Icelandic horses will go to avoid them. It is a kind of Buster Keaton movement.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Defense Secretary Mark Esper Given Mongolian Horse

On August 8, 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was gifted a Mongolian hose by the government of that country during a visit.  Mongolian horses are genetically related to Icelandic horses.  Esper named the seven-year old, caramel colored horse Marshall after WW II General George Marshall.

"“He’s happy, he likes his name,” Esper said while standing beside the horse outside the Mongolian Ministry of Defense."  Esper noted that General Marshall and he shared a home town of Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

Per the article, "Marshall, who had served in China between 1924 and 1927 while an Army officer, came to Mongolia to procure horses for his infantry regiment, as the “best horses” were from the region, according to Esper.  As the story goes, a young lieutenant under Marshall’s command disciplined a stubborn horse by striking it. Marshall punished the lieutenant “because he had such high regard for Mongolian horses.”"

Esper presented the horse's caretaker with a saddle blanket with the U.S. Army Old Guard badge.  Marshall the horse will remain in Mongolia.

Charles Hagel, US Defense Secretary under Obama, was given a Mongolian horse he named Shamrock.  Donald Rumsfeld, Pentagon chief under President George W. Bush, called his horse Montana.  These horses stayed in Mongolia also.

You can view photos of Esper and his Mongolian horse via the link below.

Source: https://thehill.com/policy/defense/456657-mongolia-gives-horse-to-esper-as-us-looks-for-new-inroads-against-china

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Networking Among Ancient Icelandic Homesteads

Combining archeological evidence and written land registers from the 1100s to modern times, Gisli Palson investigates connectivity among homesteads and tenants.  Such connections could be quite complex since a homestead could own grazing or fishing rights on other properties. These complexities often lead to conflict and even violence as suggested in the Icelandic sagas. 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

New Neurological Disease in Icelandic Horses? Or Bad Ponies?

In 2011, several horses in southern Iceland were exhibiting strange neurological symptoms.  "These included shaking, poor coordination, and a vastly increased appetite. The matter was brought to the attention of several veterinarians, none of whom were able to determine a cause..."   They were concerned that the horses might be showing signs of a new neurological disease in horses.  The clue in solving the mystery was the symptom "increased appetite" since sick animals usually don't eat.

Veterinarian Mia Hellsten shared the case with the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP).  One of its members had seen similar symptoms in a dog. 

Blood work came back positive for marijuana.  Evidently the horses has encountered some plants growing outside and indulged.

Can you imagine an Icelandic horse with increased appetite?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

2019 New Zealand Icelandic Horse Youth Event

Here are some hightlights from the Icelandic Horse Youth Event held in New Zealand in 2019.  Both horses and kids are having a great time.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Carl Sandburg--Riding Horses in the Rain

Francisco Castro Vedella reads "Horses and Men in Rain" by Carl Sandburg.  You can be like the heroes of old if you ride in the rain.
 

Monday, November 11, 2019

"Showdown at the Strand" is a Podcast

Axe versus whale rib. Sword versus blubber. “Showdown at the Strand” is a retelling of one of the Icelandic sagas using American Western motifs. I wrote this story in honor of the heritage of my Icelandic horse Blessi. I planned to re-enact hunting stranded whales in Iceland by horseback around 1020 AD in a Society for Creative Anachronism event. But something happened so I wrote this story instead.

Chris Herron created an amazing podcast out of this story.  You can listen to the whale of a tale at Tall Tales TV, which one of the finalists for a 2018 Parsec Award.


Painting Humans to Look Like Animals

Amazing! Humans as canvases.  Johannes Stoetter paints bodies to create the most stunning animal artwork.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Model Matt Harnacke Rides Flying Pace

Matt Harnacke is dressage rider and professional model.  One of his video series is about experiencing horses of different breeds.  This is his first encounter with an Icelandic horse.  He has a lot of fun riding flying pace and tolt for the first time. 

Although Matt says there are no Icelandic horses in Australia,  FEIF, the international registry of Icelandic horses, records 262 Icelandic horses in Australia in November 2019. 


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Playgrounds as Bomb Proofing for Horses

Iris, who lives in the Netherlands, has been training Roos, a 6-year Icelandic mare, for a little over two months.  What a unique but effective way to train by using playground equipment, having drivers feed treats to the horse to let it know cars aren't  scary things, and taking advantage of urban bridges and tunnels to get the young horse prepared to face a wide variety of obstacles.   I wish Blessi was stabled within walking distance of a school.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Blessi's Poem Is Published


Crepe and Penn Literary Magazine included my poem "If a Pony Penned a Poem."  Guess who was the inspiration?  You can read it on page 66 of the following attachment.

Blessi also asked me to remind everybody that a peanut is a poem to a pony.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Friesian and Icelandic Ride in New Zealand

Haski the Icelandic, Mirthe the Friesian, and their riders enjoy a wonderful ride along Closeburn Station, Lake Dispute, New Zealand.  The country side is so beautiful.  I kept expecting Sam and Frodo to set out of the bramble and ask which way to Mordor.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Another Icelandic Bobs for Apples

Hannah Compton shared this video of her Icelandic Ollie bobbing for apples.  The horse has fun and drinks more water.

Blessi loves bobbing for apples.  At several horse shows, we have run a bobbing for apples contest.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

"Tom Petty" Sings "Free Horses"

Whoever knew that Tom Petty's original version of Free Falling was originally titled Free Horses and was about horses--just horses.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Icelandics carrying live sheep and piano

No Icelander walks when he can ride! Wherever they have to go, even a short distance, they jump on their handy little pony and skim away to their destination...The funniest loads are put on the ponies' backs. I have met a worthy couple jogging along driving a third pony carrying a spinning wheel! Ponies carry planks and iron for building, tools, provisions, and I have even seen a live sheep having a ride! A piano is carried out to the country between two ponies; and sometimes milk or cream is carried in tins, in wooden panniers. "

Mrs. Disney Leith, Iceland, 1908, pp. 39-40
Sketch is from Hesten i Nordboernes Tjeneste paa Island, by Daniel Bruun, 1904, p. 92.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Corvid Queen Publishing My Poem "The Night Troll"

Up until the past hundred years, most Icelandic horses had to survive on their own over the white, perishing Icelandic winters. Who knows what they saw under the white moon over Iceland?   I wrote a poem "The Night Troll" using that motif.  Corvid Queen is publishing it in January 2020.

In the meantime, here's some lovely film footage of Iceland at night under the moon.  Jakobina Ragnhildur sings "Moonlight Shadow" in Icelandic.  

Ride to Church in Slovenia

Two sisters ride their Icelandics to a beautiful hill top church in Slovenia.  They meet some cows on the way.  Interesting how Icelandics, regardless of country, will take any opportunity to grab a bite of grass or browse during a trail ride.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

"Why Do We Write" Published in Page and Spine

.
 Page and Spine has published my essay "Why Do We Write?"  As Anne Lemott explains, good writing is “telling the truth in an interesting way” which is hard, hard, hard to do “like bathing cats.”  But writers persist.

https://pagespineficshowcase.com/the-writers-table/why-do-we-write-p-s-nolfhttps://pagespineficshowcase.com/the-writers-table/why-do-we-write-p-s-nolf

New Type of Pet

Encountered a pet that I had never seen before at Petco. Can you guess what they are? Hint: They are very quick (my first 4 pictures were blurry) and very curious and very friendly. They like to snack from their hay bag.

These "Skinny pigs" (marketing name) are mostly hairless guinea pigs. Their unique appearance is the result of a spontaneous genetic mutation among a group of lab guinea pigs.
The herd that I saw at Petco seemed to be so much livelier and people oriented than the more familiar guinea pigs with hair housed beside them. Don't know if this is a trait of the skinny pigs or just of this particular group but they were darn cute.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

More Mounted Archery on Icelandic Horse

Ever wonder what mounted archery would be like on an Icelandic horse? Here is Sabrina riding Glöd at competition in Rättvik, Sweden. There are some advantages to having more of a 4-beat canter since it seems to be smoother.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Riding Icelandic Horses in Slovania

Slovania is a beautiful country.  What a better way to explore its landscape than on the back of an Icelandic horses.  In July 2018, I looked up Icelandic horse populations on FEIF (which is when this video was published).  Slovania has 363 registered Icelandics, which is more than Italy (317), Faroe Island (307), and Australia (280).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI_o-2bhVSE

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Cretan Horse and his Fast Rack

The Messara or Cretan horse breed comes from the island of Crete near Greece.  The breed has been on the island since at least 1000 AD.  In the 1600s when the island was ruled by the Ottoman empire, Arabian stock was crossed with the native ponies.  Today, there are around 100 registered individuals.  (source:  Wikipedia)

These horses do gait.  Here's  a video of the stallion Aetos showing off his slow and fast rack or tolt.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Úlfar Örn, Painter of Icelandic Horses

Úlfar Örn, Icelandic artist, explains why he chooses to paint Icelandic horses and what he sees in the souls of horses conveyed through their eyes.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Freestyle to Colors of the Wind

Dressage horses and their riders perform beautiful freestyles to classical music.  Here's a girl and her Icelandic Welsh cross having fun performing in a neck ring at 2019 Equiday in Germany.  Those are some significant jumps for a smaller horse.  And like all Icelandic horses, this guy lets his friend know when he thinks the performance is done.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

"The Queen of the Night" by Alexander Chee,


My current read is "The Queen of the Night" by Alexander Chee, a novel about Lilliet Berne, an American orphan, who works in the circus to escape America, become a streetwalker then maid for Empress Eugenie, transforms into a courtesan and eventual star of the Paris opera world as a falcon soprano--yes, I know a plot as fantastical and convoluted as the operas of the mid 1800s.

Here is a link explaining what is a falcon soprano.

And here is the rarest of females hybrid voices--
absoluta soprana. If you can only listen to part of this, I suggest minutes 2:20 to 3:50 using Maria Callas to illustrate witchy contralto to coloratura soprano.


I am fascinated by the cover of this book, which is a photo of the real life Virginia Oldoini (1837–1899). The beautiful Countess da Castiglione was supposedly sent to Paris to seduce Emperor Napoleon III to support Italian unification. The Countess da Castiglione was fascinated with photography. She worked with the studio of Mayer & Pierson and other photographers in the mid 1800s to produce 700 photographs of her life and visions of herself. 
"While many of the portraits record the countess’ triumphant moments in Parisian society, wearing the extravagant gowns and costumes in which she appeared at soirées and masked balls, in others she assumes roles drawn from the theater,
opera, literature, and her own imagination. Functioning as a means of self-advertisement as well as self-expression, they show the countess, by turns, as a mysterious seductress, a virginal innocent, and a charming coquette. Provided with titles of her own choosing, and often elaborately painted under her direction, these images were frequently sent to lovers and admirers as tokens of her favor. Unique in the annals of nineteenth-century photography, these works have been seen as
forerunners to the self-portrait photography of later artists such as Claude Cahun, Pierre Molinier, and Cindy Sherman. 
Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photos are from Met or Wikipedia.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Tails of Iceland--Equus entry

Here's the trailer for "Tails of Iceland," an entry in the 2019 Equus film competition.  Good luck to Art as Air, the producer of the film.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Icelandic Horses in the US -- Part II

Here is part two of the documentary of the Icelandic Horse.  Icelandic owners and trainers took a team of horses to a big horse 1990 show in Los Angeles to develop a marketing plan for the breed.  

This section records many of the rave responses of the audience to their first views of the Icelandic horse.  Some of the same barriers occur then as now.  One lady comments that the Icelandics racked better than her saddlebred and then asked if somebody could give her one.

Interestingly, this effort must have had an impact on the import of Icelandic horses to the US.  By far, the largest number of Icelandic horses and owners in the US are in California.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Page and Spine to Publish My "Why Do We Write" on Oct 11, 2019

Page and Spine will publish my essay called
"Why Do We Write" on October 11, 2019.  This is the second piece of mine that the site has selected.  Here's the first sentence: 

"Bruce  Chatwin in The Songlines visualizes that primordial moment when the First Man on the African Savannah shouts out his first words “‘I AM!” to defy the terrors of the African Savannah, which is the beginning of all songs and all stories.  "

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Icelandic Horses in the US--Part I

Laxnes Horse Farm made a 1981 documentary about the re-introduction of the Icelandic horse to the US in the 1980s and early 1990s.  (Icelandics were fairly popular in the US in the late 1890s and early 1900s before basically disappearing as a breed in the US). 

Voice over is mostly Icelandic but there are some interviews in English at the end.  The actress Jennifer O'Neil delivers one of the best explanations of the appeal of the breed.  She describes the horses as "beautiful,..just make my heart laugh" and describes riding them using words like fantastic trail horse, calm, smart, spirited yet sensible.  

But then as now, it's all about marketability.  O'Neil, who was very involved in hunter jumper world, was asked if she was going to buy an Icelandic horse.  Her response was "Are you going to give me one?" 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Injury Risk for Horses Increases with Hard Footing

From Wikipedia
Researchers in France studied the association of firmness of track footing and musculoskeletal injuries on French trotters training for harness racing.   Results showed  that racing over harder surfaces resulted in significantly more injury and trauma to the horses.

"Of the 18 moderate and severe lesions, 15 were identified in horses of the hard-track group, and 10 of those were in forelimbs. Moderate to severe tendinopathy of the superficial digital flexor tendon of the forelimb developed in 3 of the 6 horses of the hard-track group but none of the horses of the soft-track group. Metatarsal condyle injuries were more frequent in horses of the hard-track group than horses of the soft-track group. Severe lesions were identified only in left limbs. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that track surface firmness is a risk factor for musculoskeletal injuries in horses trained for harness racing."


Current FEIF rules call for a "firm" surface for the track used in breeding assessments and sports competitions for Icelandic horses.  I have heard some informal discussion on how to measure the firmness of the track but I could not find any official information as to whether FEIF plans to measure the hardness of the footing in the future to mitigate potential injury. 




Source:  "Effect of track surface firmness on the development of musculoskeletal injuries in French Trotters during four months of harness race training", American Journal of Veterinary Research, November 2017

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29076363

 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

"Hark, Hark the Dogs of War Do Bark" to be published in January 2020

I am currently working on a narrative non-fiction book titled Raising Rough Riders in the White House: Theodore Roosevelt and His Sons Archie and Quentin and Their Pony Algonquin

While researching the death of Quentin during WW I, I discovered serio-comic maps as both art form and propaganda devices. I wondered what would happen if the characters could talk. 


"Hark, Hark the Dogs of War Do Bark" is the result.  Scarlet Leaf is publishing this satire in January 2020.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Crepe and Penn to Publish "If a Pony Penned a Poem"

The online literary journal Crepe & Penn is going to publish my poem "If a Pony Penned a Poem" at the end of October.  Of course, the poem was inspired by Blessi.  Many thanks to friends who persuaded me to attempt to write poetry and submit it for possible publication.  Blessi is getting treats today for being my muse.
 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Icelanders and Their Horses

April Anderson produced a documentary on the unique relationship between Icelanders and their horses.  Here is the trailer.  It does help if one includes the link.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Do Icelandic Horses Like Bob Dylan Songs?

What does a herd of Icelandic horses do when serenaded by Bob Dylan's song "All the Tired Horses"?  They continue to graze with two sentinels looking out because of that wild harmonica.  Fredrico Borluzzi shares footage of his tour of Iceland in 2017



Saturday, August 31, 2019

Jeff Corwin Rides an Icelandic Horse

Here is another celebrity, Jeff Corwin, riding an Icelandic horse in Iceland.  I was trying to explain to folks how rough the terrain in Iceland can be.  This video shows the need for an agile, sturdy horse.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Icelandic Shetland Cross

Ever wonder what an Icelandic horse crossed with a Shetland would look like?  Here's cute Lando.  I wonder if he is gaited.  Note I am not advocating crossing Icelandics with other breeds.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Dogs Doing Cross Country at Burghley

Dogs Do Burghley - Burghley 2017 XC Preview from Equine Productions on Vimeo.
Here a pack of dogs try out the jumps at Burghley cross country.  I love the enthusiasm of William, the smallest dog, who keeps up in his own way.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

My "Riding with Theodore Roosevelt" article Cited by IFCE and Le Cadre Noir

The IFCE (Institut francais du cheval et de l'equitation), Les Haras nationaux, and Le Cadre Noir sponsor a library of equine references.  "A unique, scientific, technical and patrimonial documentary collection dedicated to equine industry of more than 50,000 references, in constant evolution. "  

My article on "Riding with Theodore Roosevelt" was added to this site.  Unfortunately, the organization use "Ridding" rather than "Riding."  Regardless, I am honored to be associated with these organizations in any way.

Monday, August 19, 2019

German Kids Make a Film About the Icelandic Horse

Children in German made a film about their favorite breed of horses.  The outtakes at the beginning are especially cute.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Stray Icelandics Meet Hikers in Norway

Here we have a group of hikers in Norway who encounter two Icelandic horses.  Hikers get a great photo op.  Horses get some attention and treats.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Icelandic Herding Sheep in Colorado

Here's a great video of a rancher bringing his sheep back to more protected fields over the winter.  As I watched the video, I noted the Western saddle and tack so I took a closer look.  This was filmed in Colorado.  I wonder how how many Icelandics are being used for this purpose?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Similarities of Horse and Human Skeletons

I encountered this 1905 Scientific American magazine cover in Wendy William's book The Horse.

The photo is amazing in and of itself--a piece of art. We don't often get to see how horse and human skeletons mirror each other when in an upright position. PS Photo is public domain from Hathitrust Google.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Icelandic Horse Used in Vaulting

Here is a team of kids at Fákar og Fjör demonstrating their vaulting skills.  The pinto Icelandic decides to add an additional parameter by bucking.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Adelle's Hello Sung By Kittens

You had me at "Meow"! Humane societies are one of the best places to adopt cats and dogs. All of my current kitties are rehomed or adopted from humane societies.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Valois Black Nose Sheep "harassing" hikers in Alps

I had never heard of this breed of sheep before so I looked them up. They don't have your normal sheep personality. Here is a video of them "harassing" hikers in the Alps with their cuteness. As one hiker says, "I think they are not dangerous, they are just following." Somebody needs to adopt some of these critters.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Learn Icelandic in Seattle


Learn to speak Icelandic online (and an awful lot of work). The Seattle Iceland Club has a link to some free sample on-line lessons in speaking Icelandic (after that you need to pay). I looked at one of the intro videos and had trouble with the Icelandic version of Good day. I am sure that has to do with the slight hearing defect that I have.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Icelandic Horses Christchurch, New Zealand

Here's some lovely drone footage of eleven Icelandic horses and riders trail riding along the sea near Christchurch, NZ.

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.