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December 9, 2012: I get by with a Little Help from my Friends

A half-inch or so of snow fell last night – just enough to brighten an overcast day. This morning Pete and I took Siggi and Hrimmi out. He rode Siggi and I walked Hrimmi. It went very well. I can now say walk on, and she will walk on. If she hesitates, I squeeze and release the line. If she still hesitates, I do a shoulder release. As she moves, she gives me this look which indicates that quite clearly, her coming along with me is was her idea all along.

I next rode Tinni and ponied Signy. This is a good combination. Both are older horses with very good trail manners. And both are extremely trail savvy. Both waited patiently as I unhooked Rainbow up at one trailhead, and then hooked her up at the other.

I next took Raudi out on the same ride. She was hyper-alert, but again, reluctant to trot. Differing saddlepads haven’t resulted in any major changes. So I’m going to keep doing research about saddles and saddle fit.

I’ve decided that for now, arena work is not for us. If we’re to venture back into such a place, it will be in order to work with someone who knows and appreciates the mindset of Icelandic horses. I know, I know, it sounds like I’m glorifying these horses by saying they’re BETTER than other breeds. I’m not doing this. Rather, I’m saying that they’re DIFFERENT than other breeds.

Icelandic horses ARE very intelligent, easy going, and calm. They do very well with trainers who work with, rather than attempt to dominate them, which is what the natural horsemanship people do. Round penning, a glorified form of chasing, is out, as is pinning the horse down, tying up its legs, and sitting on its head. And pressure –release tactics are out because the Icelandic horse will, rather than yield, move into, rather than out of a given space.

How does one explain all this to a trainer whose life work has centered around successfully using and promoting these techniques? I say, let them do what they do so well—and I and others will do what we do so well.

No, the person or persons that I would most like to work with live in Canada or the Lower 48. But I’m in communication with others who pretty much share the same viewpoints when it comes to Icelandic horses. They’re at the distance, but because we social network, close by.

The people that I’m about to mention are on the editorial board of the Icelandic Horse Quarterly Committee. Our editor is Nancy Marie Brown, who is a writer, editor, scholar par excellence. I’ve never met her, but I’m in awe of her. She’s kind, thoughtful, and extremely level headed. And she does quite well in dealing with literary prima donnas like me.

In thinking about my Quarterly Committee list, I have to first mention Andrea Brodie. At this time of year, in 2010, she got wind of the fact that I was thinking about getting an Icelandic horse from a rescue group, and training it to be our trip pack animal. She said nonsense, that we could borrow one of her horses. We subsequently went to Colorado and stayed a week at her place. And while we were there, we began working with Signy, who we purchased at the summer’s end. Andrea did us a good turn by selling us Signy – she is as Andrea said, level headed, strong, and very independent. Andrea added that once Signy trusts a person, that she will do anything for them. I now feel this way about Signy – she and I are very close.

I met Chris Romano, the publication cartoonist, a few years back, when I was visiting Pete’s family in California. I had a wonderful visit—I spent time with Chris, her husband Bruce, and their two horses, Fudgy (an Icelandic) and Gizmo (a Paso Fino). Chris has illustrated some of my articles and Raudi’s Story. Red Horse Press may publish a book of her cartoons in the near future. Lately, she’s offered me some very good ideas as to how I might get Raudi unstuck. I am acting upon them all.

I also met Nancy W-D a few years back. She lives in Maine. We did a clinic at the Icelandic Horse Farm together. Since, we’ve corresponded about horse training, by exchanging journal excerpts.

Alex Pretziger, who lives in Michigan, has also given me a great deal of useful feedback.

And I’ve just begun corresponding with Pamela Nolf, who lives in Oregon. She recently read my dispatch about being stuck and offered me a lot of useful advice. She also had a lot of good marketing ideas for Raudi’s Story. And today she posted a review of the book on her website, entitled www.blessiblog.com. I took a look at the site today – her stories about her horse are quite funny. Blessi, like Raudi, has a very distinctive personality.

These are just people who are at the distance. I also have a network of friends, some of whom own Icelandics, and some of whom don’t, for input when I’m stuck. There’s Marj, who owns Delilah, a half Icelandic, Fran Buntzen, who owns two Icelandics, Vicki, who owns one Icelandic, Heather, who owns a half-arab/half quarter horse, and Sharon who owns a Hanoverian. So yes, I do get by with a little help from my friends.

Next: 364. 1211/12: If the Saddle Fits, Let the World Know about It