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.