Monday, January 04, 2010

Icelandic Horse Slow Motion

It is interesting to view the legs of the Icelandic Horse in slow motion. Conformation problems may cause the transverse legs to cross over each other (rope walking), and the style of riding with mechanical aids, or the pounding of the feet on the ground may cause the joints to hyperextend (such as seeing the bottom of the front feet from the front, as in the above picture, not a good thing).

Take a look at the picture and figure out which leg is which and what the flight pattern is of each leg. Do the legs looks like they are tracking up? travelling on one, two, or three tracks? or cross-tracking?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Icelandic Horses in the Rose Parade

Icelandic Horses were ridden in the Rose Parade for a few years.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Icelandic Horse and Parelli Natural Horsemanship

A gal in Germany practices Parelli Natural Horsemanship (PNH) with her Icelandic Horse.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Marketing the Icelandic Horse

North America has several breeds of easy gaited horses; horses that gait naturally.

In the Icelandic Horse world, we see the horses being forced to gait through heavy contact, nosebands, dig and pinch saddles, shoes, boots, whips, concussive practices, etc.

From an article about Marketing the Icelandic Horse:

Looking to other similar gaited breeds, coming into popularity in the mid 20th century along with the Icelandic Horse, we have the Peruvian Paso and the Paso Fino. Currently, their recorded numbers in the US are: Peruvian Paso 14,000 and Paso Fino 50,000.

There is a large gap between the numbers of Peruvians and Finos, that we wanted to find out why and what made the difference. It has been interesting and insightful to research the breeds, their history, and their marketing in the US, and to try to find some answers that may be helpful for the Icelandic Horse.

Each of these three breeds (Icelandic, Peruvian, Fino) had individual horses brought into the US prior to the middle of the 20th century, but it was in the 1950's and 1960's (post-war) when each one got their breed identity in North America.

For the Paso Fino: "Awareness of the Paso Fino as we know it today didn't spread outside Latin America until after WWII, when American servicemen came into contact with the stunning Paso Fino horse while stationed in Puerto Rico." The January
2004 cover of the Endurance News magazine sports a full page, color picture of a Paso Fino.

For the Peruvian Paso: "As part of their recovery in 1945 from the Chilean War, Peru made an all out effort to preserve their treasure, the horse, almost lost due to the war. Peruvians made a serious attempt to record the horses' fabulous history and guard their legacy. It was at this time they decided to have shows, form an association and start a stud book. However, in terms of historical continuity because of political problems, their isolation and the war, Peru has been at a disadvantage."

The difference between the horses coming to the United States is that the Paso Finos came with American servicemen and were mainstreamed into the American horse culture, easily sliding into wearing western tack, trail riding, becoming family horses, working cows. Acceptance of the Paso Fino Horse into the American horse culture was facilitated by this initial introduction.

In contrast with the Peruvian Pasos, the Peruvians were brought to the United States "guarded" (so to speak) by their trainers, and the mystique and mythology that goes along with it. It was said that "Peruvian tack has evolved with the horse for 500 years and most closely suits its conformation, riding style, and unique beauty of the horse for which it was created. The breed associations have continued to observe the tradition of Peru, and the Peruvian tack remains mandatory at most shows."

The number of Paso Finos grew rapidly, while the number of Peruvian Pasos limped along.

During this time, the Icelandic Horses were also first imported to North America, taking more of the same route as the Peruvian Pasos, entrenched with their own trainers and tradition.

Again, by recorded numbers we have Paso Finos at 50,000, Peruvian Pasos at 14,000, and Icelandic Horses at 2,000, for approximately the same time period of about 40 years in the US.

Rocky Mountain Horses, first organized in 1986, approximates 6,000 horses.

The Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association was established, March 22, 1989, As interest and awareness of Mountain Horses grows, so does the role of the KMSHA. It has grown from "a handful of horses" to over 1000 members, and nearly 6000 horses registered.

Fjord Horses and Welsh Ponies came into North America about the same time and they log in with 7,000 and 40,000, respectively.

What is the answer to increase popularity of the Icelandic Horse in North America?

The horses must be naturally gaited, meaning no need for manipulating gait by shoes, boots, saddles, whips, nosebands, sitting on the loins, heavy contact.

The horses must be easily rideable by novices (who are mostly attracted to the breed).

The horses must not *need* icelandic-style trainers (certified; professional; holar graduates, etc.) to be ridden.

The horses must not *need* special tack to be ridden.

The riders must not *need* icelandic-style trainers to learn how to ride the horse.

The horse must easily adapt into North American western riding style.

The horse must improve conformationally and in natural gait to compete with the naturally gaited breeds of North America.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Contact for Gait

A discussion about contact for gait:

"Why do people think a horse needs bit contact to gait. Mine don't! I don't get that. Am I wrong? I just don't see how their mouth and neck is gonna make them move their feet and joints differently. Unless tension creates gait. Which isn't natural is it? Or is it...

When I think about gait I think about myself. I can walk differently and in certain shoes that pinch or when my toenails are cut too short I walk funny. But if you led my mouth I would raise my head and stop thinking of much but how I hate your guts for not allowing me to have a nice ride and be tense and I guess yes, that would alter my gait but not necessarily for the better!

I mean contact is one thing but why do you have to be ridezilla??!!"

A response: Because they've never learned anything different...

Another response: Yes, that's one reason.

At this point though, I'm highly suspicious that there are other reasons. I'm very suspicious about some great big SECRET conspiracy, going on, right under our noses about the HONEST gaiting ability of many horses in many breeds.

Scenario for you: You buy yourself a very expensive *gaited* horse. But, when you get said horse home, and attempt to ride said horse, in gait, said horse either can't or won't do said gait. Sound familiar to anyone?

So, you think, hum, maybe that guy / gal I bought this horse from was right and I really do need to use the bit, tack, shoes, trimming method etc., that they used and told me to use. OR, it must be my faulty riding or the wrong tack.

So, you begin to question your own good horse sense at this point. After all, the horse seemed to gait great when ridden by the seller / trainer and even did great for you when you tried it out at the place. But, you are thinking, at the time, just wait till I get you home, you darling thing, and I get this awful bit out of your mouth and get you comfortable. You feel like a hero at that moment.

Reality land sinks in. This horse can't gait without artificial aids. Mechanical FORCE! So, what are you to do? All horse's that are touted to be NATURALLY GAITED are NOT! It takes a keen eye and some serious experience to see the difference between a forced gait and a truly natural inclination to gait.

Then, if the naturally gaited horse is ridden using mechanical methods this further complicates things. Did you check out the trim? Does the horse's gait depend upon it's SPECIAL TRIM or SPECIAL SHOES? These things happen all the time to good honest buyers who don't have a clue what they are REALLY SEEING.

Some of them are very embarrassed by being taken in and so resort to the same methods that the seller used to fool them in the first place. Sometimes the seller doesn't know any better and assumes all gaited horses require such methods in order to gait.

Quotes used by the people in the discussion:

"Be who you are, say what you think, because those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind."

"Intelligent people talk about ideas. Average people talk about things. Small people talk about other people."

“PERHAPS the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.” ~~Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Stepping Pace Gait

The stepping pace is a lateral gait which can be done at the speed of walk, intermediate gait, or fast gait.

This is a natural gait of some Icelandic Horses.

For more information and description, along with video, of stepping pace, please see:

Stepping Pace Description

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Icelandic Horse Games

Here's a cute video of some kids in Germany dressed up in costumes, along with their Icelandic Horses in costume, playing games, which are good training exercises.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Can Icelandic Horses Line Dance?

If other breeds can learn to line dance (with kids as teachers), can Icelandic Horses learn to line dance?

Who is willing to try it?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Beautiful Icelandic Horse

This is a beautiful chestnut Icelandic Horse gelding with flaxen mane and tail. The colors of his tack are gorgeous, with the turquoise saddle pad matching the breast collar and the bridle. He is carrying a Myler sweet iron, but the reins are attached to the sidepull.

Wind Gait Icelandic Horses:

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Icelandic Horses in Alaska

From Misty, in Alaska:

Riding to the post office at -10. We decided to skip going to the library. It is supposed to be -20 over the weekend. I don't know where global warming is- Alaska's record highs occured back in the 30s.

Icelandic Horse in Alaska Parade

Here is Misty, with her Icelandic Horses, in a holiday parade in Alaska.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An IceHorse Christmas

My Icelandic Horse Charm poses for a Christmas video.

Santa baby, just slip a sable under the tree, for me
Been an awful good girl
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, a '54 convertible too, light blue
I'll wait up for you dear Santa baby,
so hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed
Next year I could be just as good
If you'd check off my Christmas list
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, I wanna yacht and really that's
Not a lot
Been an angel all year
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa honey, one thing I really do need, the deed
To a platinum mine
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie and fill my stocking with a duplex, and checks
Sign your 'X' on the line
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations bought at Tiffany
I really do believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring
I don't mean on a phone
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry ... tonight

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Loose Rein Gaiting with Icelandic Horse

Another nice video of gaiting on a loose rein with an Icelandic Horse.

There's another video here:

Relaxation, Loose Rein Riding, with Head Nod

Friday, November 28, 2008

Here We Go, No Hands!

This is a fun video to watch. The horse appears to have a little problem with the bit, but the rider does not seem to be keeping a lot of contact on the reins, so that's good. She is comfortable enough to drop the reins (altho Reynir drops the tolt and goes into trot; he may need the contact to be able to perform the gait).

It is very nice to see the much looser rein, and less heavy contact.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Icelandic Horse Drawing

Sofie from Denmark did a great job on this Icelandic Horse drawing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Icelandic Horse Riding in Shorts and Sandals

Our winter is pretty warm right now... in the high 80's. Kevin took a little ride on Cookie, Icelandic Horse mare, in shorts and sandals, bareback, bitless.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Queen and Icelandic Horses

Happy Birthday (belated) to Prince Charles!

I understand that he wanted to have a more relaxed portait for his birthday and chose a "seat" that more resembled that of Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby.

Burnaby had the reputation of being a very strong man. Strong enough that legend said that he carried a pony under one arm! And that pony was supposedly an Icelandic.

His great-great-nephew Alan Tritton has some words about that story:

I was delighted to see the portrait of my great-great-uncle Colonel Fred Burnaby. I feel I will have to put you right on the story of the ponies, however — it was not a legend.

Queen Victoria, who had a penchant for small ponies, had ordered a dealer to show her two ponies of a rare Icelandic breed. This dealer was talking to two of his fellow officers, who decided to play a joke on Uncle Fred, as he was known in my family. They took the two ponies upstairs and deposited them in his bedroom, where they decided to stay.

Panic set in as the dealer’s appointment with the Queen drew near, whereupon Uncle Fred picked up the two ponies, one under each arm, took them downstairs and deposited them in the courtyard. The dealer just made his appointment with the Queen.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Skjoldur, Icelandic Horse

From John Parke:

We returned home two weeks ago after our trip to Colorado for the funeral of my wife Marilyn's young nephew. I went out at night to feed the horses and noticed that Skjoldur had a heavy discharge pouring out of his eyes. When I saw him the next morning, he was a little wobbly and his eyes were so opaque that he was effectively blind. I took him into the nearby Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Clinic where he was immediately put onto intravenous fluids.

He was diagnosed with an internal infection of possibly his heart and of his liver. He slowly improved for a week until he worsened again. After test after test, his veterinarian informed us that it was clear that his liver was no longer functioning and that there was no hope of recovery. When she told me how he would suffer as his brain deteriorated, we made the decision to put him down last Friday. He was only eighteen years old.

I've been in trial but was able to get out early that afternoon and reach Alamo Pintado while the sun was still up. It was a beautiful day. I brought Remington over and met Marilyn at the clinic. I found Skjoldur in his stall at the intensive care barn wobbling on his feet with his head hanging down to the floor. After an intern disconnected his tubing, I haltered him and led him out into the sunlight.

When he saw Remington, Skjoldur rushed over and laid his head against Remington's neck. We put them into the large grassy "playpen" behind the hospital and turned them loose. They both had a good roll in the sand. They then grazed on the fresh grass together under the warm sun while we took turns petting them and taking pictures for half an hour or so. When one would move off a ways, the other would race over to be with him. They were obviously joyous to be in each other's company again. As the sun started to dip below the horizon, the veterinarian and an intern came over. I fed Skjoldur a final cookie while they administered him an overdose of anesthetic. We left him lying peacefully in the grass under a sycamore tree. I pray his last thoughts were happy ones.

Although we didn't think we had any tears left after Colorado, Marilyn and I cried our eyes out this weekend sharing memories of our lost pony. Skjoldur was a paradox. He was a stunningly beautiful little horse at just under 13.3 hands high. His summertime palomino pinto coat would turn snow white in the winter. His wavy full, flaxen colored mane was unusual even for an Icelandic. He looked like a toy horse come to life. He was gentle and affectionate. We sometimes used to call him little happiness. My friend Lynne Glazer told me once that Skjoldur was the pony every woman wanted when she was an eight year old girl.

But Skjoldur also proved himself to be one of the toughest horses in the sport of endurance riding. He had tremendous metabolic recoveries and was essentially tireless. During the XP 2001 ride from Missouri to California on the Pony Express trail, he completed 32 fifty mile rides, 1,600 miles, in a 52 day period. He was the first horse in the AERC to complete 1,000 miles of sanctioned endurance rides in a thirty day calendar period. He completed 40 rides that year for 2,010 miles with no pulls. He won first middleweight and first overall in our region, the regional mileage championship, the middleweight Pioneer Award for most points nationally in multi-day rides, and came in 2nd for the national mileage championship even though all of his rides but one were in the last half of the ride season. Almost all of his career miles came from multi-day rides. He was never entered in a ride less than fifty miles long.

Five gaited, he was just as smooth at the trot as he was at the tolt. He liked to poke along at a steady pace, preferably two or three feet behind Remington's tail. But he was a demon going downhill. He would trot and canter at full speed down the tightest trails, flinging his body around the turns. He had a way of paddling out his front feet so that he didn't have to slow down as the slope got steeper. My most thrilling ride ever was his 2,000 foot wild descent from the mountain ridge down to the valley floor at 2 am near the end of the Californios 100 mile ride three years ago. I can still feel the exhilaration of not being able to see whether we would fly right or left or dip up or down as he rocketed down the single track trail
in the pitch dark. It pains me to think I will never feel what it is like to ride him again except in my memory.

But it comforts me to know that so many people will remember Skjoldur. Although he was Remington's back up for me, calling him a back up would be like calling Ginger Rogers Fred Astaire's assistant. Skjoldur was the Icelandic my family and everybody else got to ride in endurance. Probably my most memorable endurance rides were with Marilyn in Utah, my son Andrew in Nevada and my son Willie in Wyoming. Nine different people completed fifty mile endurance rides on him. My friends Laura Hayes and Kat Swigart each completed several rides on him. Jane Blair rode a fifty miler on him wearing a cast at Bryce Canyon three days after breaking her arm falling off her own horse. Everyone who rode him thought he was the smoothest horse
they had ever ridden. Lori Cox wrote after riding him in a seventy five miler in Nevada that it was like riding a horse on wheels.

Skjoldur was also the horse my non horsey friends felt safe on in weekend trail rides at the beach or in the mountains. The many children and other beginners who were introduced to horse back riding on his back were proud to know they were on a horse who could take them as far as they could imagine. Remington and I tend to be loners on the trail. By allowing people to ride with us, Sjoldur served as our bond with family and friends. My life is richer for the deep friendships we made throughout the endurance community in the years we shared with him. He was so much a part of our lives.

We never had the sense that Skjoldur relished going down the trail mile after mile for its own sake the way Remington does. Instead, it seemed that Skjoldur did the amazing things he did simply because we asked him to. When he was young, he would get nervous and sometimes spook and throw me when I would ride him alone on conditioning rides. The more angry I would get, the more nervous he would get. So I composed a dumb little song about how I loved him from the minute I picked him out of the herd and how lucky I was to have him. I would sing this out loud to him while we trotted along. It forced me to calm down which, of course, allowed him to relax. This dumb little song has been going through my head all day even while I've been in court. I hope it never stops."

Sunday, October 19, 2008



There is always a concern with nosebands that are too tight. To protect the horse's welfare, we should ask why the nosebands are so tight? what is the reason for it?

Is it a case of the horse not knowing how to respond to the bit as a tool of communication? or a case of the rider not knowing how to use a bit?

Or possibly the bit does not fit properly and the horse is trying to get away from the nutcracker action?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Icelandic Horse Bronze Placque

Mary Ann makes quite a few decorative items with Icelandic Horses on them:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Listen to The Horse

If you listen to your horse, with more than your ears, you will hear him talking to you. ~~Judy Ryder

The horse, if you take the time to notice, will be trying to communicate to you.

In this picture of an Icelandic Horse, the noseband is not too tight; that's good. But the horse is opening his mouth for a reason. It could be that the hands are not educated enough. It could be that the bit doesn't fit. Or possibly that he has a physical mouth problem that needs attention. Or any number of other things.

In any case, a good horseman will listen to his horse, and attend to any indication that things are not right.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Judy Ryder

Who is Judy Ryder?

Judy Ryder is a long-time gaited horse owner, student of the horse, and friend / partner of many gaited horse and non-gaited horse clincians and trainers, as well as many other equine professionals. She is an educator and facilitator.

She is an advocate of the horse; particularly an advocate of the Icelandic Horse. One of her priorities over the past decade, has been to bring good horsemanship to the Icelandic Horse breed, as well as educating owners to a higher level of horse knowledge, including saddle fit, benefits of barefoot, natural gaits, gait identification, deleterious effects of tack (i.e. tight nosebands, caulks, ice nails, pinching saddles), mechanical and artificial aids for obtaining gait, benefits of early handling and early learning for young horses, and more. The list is never ending.

Judy Ryder has been published in many magazines and newsletters, including Eidfaxi and The Gaited Horse Magazine, not to mention the hugely education site, Icelandic Horse Connection; and the very popular IceHorses email list on YahooGroups.

Her photographs have been included in Lee Ziegler's Easy Gaited Horses book, as well as others; and she has produced several horse training videos and podcasts.

Judy Ryder is a one-woman force in getting things done, and has been able to affect many positive changes for the breed. She's a one-woman horse avenger in a world where barbaric, depersonalizing forces had mysteriously taken over.

However, she would be the first to give credit to all of the Icelandic Horse owners with similar thoughts, the people on the IceHorses email list. Many people have supported her over the past decade.

At one time, the USIHC said to her, "You can't do that" to which she replied: "Those who say things can't be done should stand out of the way of those who are busy doing them."

She has gotten more positive things done for the breed than any single individual or organization!

Judy is a very logical person, able to employ Occam's Razor to any situation. For example, at one time, the "icelandic" bridles consisted of just one strap going from the bit ring on one side to the bit ring on the other; no throat latch, no brow band.

People were paying quite a bit of money for these "icelandic" bridles... the question was "Why?" There was no good reason. And the question of tight nosebands has been a hot topic for many years. One of the responses to this "why" was that the O-ring snaffle was used, and the tight noseband was necessary to keep the bit from pulling through the other side of the mouth.

Sounds like the hands are too heavy or strong. Millions of people ride horses with snaffles and no nosebands and don't have a problem of the bit pulling through the mouth. Must be a situation of poor riding.

Some of the other topics that Judy has had a positive influence on are:

[] Saddles. It used to be that you "had" to have an "icelandic" saddle to get gait from your Icelandic Horse. Of all the saddles in the world, "icelandic" saddles least fit Icelandic Horses!

[] Shoeing. It used to be that you "had" to shoe your Icelandic Horse to get gait; and that barefoot was being mean to your horse. But there were a lot of horses with contracted heels; a lot of Icelandics bolting.

[] Nosebands. It used to be that you "had" to have a noseband and it had to be tight to control the horse.

[] Gaits. It used to be that the Icelandic Horse only did "tolt" and "pace" as extra gaits. No one realized that the horse was capable of a full range of gaits, or that some Icelandic Horses are only three-gaited as regular trotting horses are.

[] General training and riding style.

More recently, she has pointed out riding style and tack, in the show ring, that may not be good for the Icelandic Horse, which subsequently was supported by the article in Cavallo, a German horse magazine, FEIF's welfare policy, and Shame in the Horse Show Ring (See the Natural and Artificial Gaits video.)

It takes a very strong person, mentally and emotionally, to swim against the tide, to go against the majority. She takes great pride in being a voice of reason and logic, for the horse.

Judy is a superb leader, one who is very fair, and always considering the horse first and foremost. There are few people who have her knowledge of equine biomechanics and gait, not to mention good horsemanship training, which she shares freely.


By Kathleen:

We met a lady on the trail one day, riding a big hairy Icelandic. She was bareback and riding with a halter.

Imagine my surprise to find out this was Judy Ryder! She is one heck of a horseman, and extremely knowledgeable, and unpretentious.

Judy is able to see things as they are, offer suggestions to make things better, and has superb foresight to benefit the horse in all ways.

She has been a fore runner in the horse world with clicker training and natural horsemanship.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Are the Gaits Natural or Artificial?

How do you determine if the gaits of the Icelandic Horse are natural or artificial?

Here are some helpful hints:

More information at the Icelandic Horse Connection

Monday, September 15, 2008

Icelandic Horse Riding At Night

My Icelandic Horse mare has no problem riding at night. We occasionally go out riding on the nights of the full moon.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

The Bit, As a Communication Tool

Leaning on the Bit

Horses who race have learned to lean on the bit to balance themselves. This is a bad habit, usually resulting from a lack of training. Dental problems should not be ruled out, however, when undertaking a course to transition a horse from leaning on the bit to using the bit as a communication tool.

Horses who have learned to lean on the bit do it from lack of understanding, sometimes fear of the bit--they "grab" it before it grabs them! More than likely, they also have not been taught to accept the bit. A horse traveling with his mouth open shows discontent or evasion of the bit, again, most likely a training issue--either the horse doesn't understand or the rider's hands are heavy. In either case, more training of horse or rider is warranted :-). Using a noseband to close the mouth is not the answer.

The bit should be used as a fine-tuned communication device. All other communication and direction for the horse should be coming from the seat and legs. The weaker the seat, the stronger the hands. There is also an analogy thinking of the bit as a lollipop--the horse uses his jaw movement, mouth, and tongue to "taste" the lollipop. As sweet and wonderful as the lollipop can be, if it's jammed in his mouth and pulled on with no relief, it becomes an instrument of torture. Once the horse focuses on his pain and attempting to get relief, he will no longer be in willing communication with the rider.

Leaning on the bit is a habit, and will continue from one rider to the next. The habit may have been developed when the horse was ridden by the original trainer, or whenever he learned that "hands" could not be trusted. In order for a horse to lean on the bit, there must be something there to pull against. If not, the horse cannot lean on the bit!

An astute rider will use only the weight of the reins to maintain contact. Hard hands make a heavy-on-the-forehand horse into a VERY heavy-on-the-forehand horse! It makes a horse stiff and resistant in the neck, poll, jaw. His mouth gets harder as time goes on.

Most horses will eventually complain about heavy contact--either by tossing their head, leaning and pulling on the rider's hands, hollowing the back, running away, etc. The horse, for the most part, will give several warnings to the rider before getting to this point; however, a rider with heavy hands is not in a position to "receive" communication FROM the horse and may have missed all the cues from the horse.

If a horse is continuously ridden with heavy contact, it will make him more heavy on the front end.

No matter from whom, or how your horse learned to lean on the bit, it is now your responsibility to change things! Change the role the bit plays, and your horse's reaction to it will change.

Starting The Change

Look into riding lessons in these disciplines: dressage, classical horsemanship, centered riding, connected riding. Find someone who can help you learn how the body influences the horse.

Use very light contact, allow the horse to be responsible for his own front end (and that you will not be holding it up), acquire educated seat and legs, teach your horse to understand the seat and legs. Use a good dressage program of half-halts, transitions, rein-backs, circles, serpentines, figure 8's. Utilize John Lyons "Give to the Bit", Parelli's 7 Games and lateral flexion, Bill Dorrance's ground work, and / or some TTEAM groundwork. To help your horse understand, bridge these learning exercises with clicker training. Educate your hands to take light contact, slowly, and release contact quickly; as it is the "release" that teaches the horse.

This will all take time as the horse learns to trust the hands, to give to the bit, to relax. It may be difficult for him to transition to light contact, but hang in there--even the dullest mouths have been changed! The important thing to think about is that the bit does not control the horse. The rider who gains control of the horse's mind, has control of his feet.

Icelandic Horse Connection

Icelandic Horse Connection