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April 18, 2011

Soldotna Road Trip

Tonight my heart is heavy for my steady eddy horse is now at Nilla’s place in Soldotna. I could not have done any better by my horse. He got to go to Nilla’s in style, in our brand new trailer, the one with all the bells and whistles, including l windows that fold down. (The windows, they enable horses in transit to enjoy the passing scenery). We scheduled two days for this trip so that I was able to spend time situating Tinni in his new digs. He was properly re-introduced to his old stablemate Rjupa. And he was introduced to Bob, Bella, and Magik. Rjupa was once boarded where Tinni lived. Back in the day, the two horses didn’t get along. But Tinni quickly realized that now things are now different. Rjupa, under Nilla’s care, has became a happier and calmer horse. And he’ll have Rjupa’s foal Bob to deal with should he become homesick. Bob is like Siggi, a dun. And he is, like Siggi, also very curious and playful. I have my fingers crossed. I hope that Tinni will take to Magik, Nilla’s little pony.

Nilla with Rjupa

We also went for an evening and a morning ride. I rode Tinni and Nilla rode Rjupa. This gave Tinni a sense of the lay of the land. On both rides, Tinni was more animated than usual. This was a nice change of pace for him – perhaps his daily walks around the loop with me and the goats was getting old. It’s hard to say; however he enjoyed the outings. And I spent considerable time brushing Tinni who is shedding.

So why am I feeling so forlorn? For many years Tinni has been my Number One riding horse, my stalwart companion, the fellow that I could ride at any time, day or night. He was the horse I put kids and beginners on. Rather than listen to them, he listened to me. He was adept at gauging how proficient his rider was, and acting accordingly. I came off a few times, and in this way learned that this was not the end of the world. Tinni and I are now joined at the heart as well as at the hip. This may be a matter of perception. Some might see a slightly swaybacked pony with a touch of gray on his forelock. But I see a prince, a beautiful black horse who radiates confidence, intelligence, and kindness. I’m not talking here about the black stallion. Rather, I’m talking here about a less spirited, smaller, but infinitely more loyal riding companion. In my mind, he is, and will always be the quintessential Icelandic horse. I once told his former owner, Katelyn Barnett that “he’s a great horse,” to which she responded “no, he’s just a good horse.” This business of good and great seems to be what is causing factionalization in the Icelandic horse community. Some, like Katelyn, equate greatness with flash, speed, high energy, and clean, clearly defined gaits. And some, like me, equate greatness with dependability, willingness, and common sense. Raudi and Siggi are on the verge of becoming great. But this would not be if Tinni had not taught me to cultivate these traits in the two. It’s our job as horse owners to bring out the best in our animals. But we can’t do this without training. I live in a somewhat isolated area, so (as I said in previous dispatches) Tinni has been my teacher.

This is my one concern. I hope that Tinni doesn’t feel like I’ve abandoned him. Haley, Katelyn’s friend, and her mother Joyce brought him here five years ago. And it took a great deal of time before
He called this place home. Over time, I became adept at scanning the paddock, in order to see where Tinni was standing. Early on, he spent considerable time by the fence, staring out into space. This later became the place he retreated to when he wasn’t feeling well, like when Siggi pulled out a huge swatch of his forelock.

Tinni truly loved Katelyn, his childhood owner. And so to him, her taking off for Iceland was the ultimate form of betrayal. It was for this reason that I was always careful to include him in on things. I rode him as often as I did Raudi, and maybe y even more. And I was careful to divvy out my riding time between him and her. One was not neglected for the sake of the other.

Sometimes it’s better to look ahead than back. In the fall I’ll return to Nilla’s and Tinni and I will be reunited. Pete and I are hoping that by then that Siggi will have matured some, and be less of a thorn in Siggi’s side. In the meantime Pete, Siggi, Raudi, and I have a big trip ahead of us. In our absence, Janelle will take excellent care of Jenna, and Bill Schmidtkunz will take equally good care of the goats and chickens. The trip will also be good for me. I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut these past few years. My day-to-day life now consists of a circumscribed routine that revolves around taking care of the animals and the place. I need to be reminded of what it’s like to be again live simply and to be footloose. Can I do this having three horses and two dogs to tend to? I’ll just have to wait and see.