I love my rambling with My Mate Roger. Ambling down the country lanes, with the wind in my mane and wowing the locals with my amazing ‘chicken-pecker-chicken-pecker’ sounding tölt. Some times we go on our own, sometimes the Woman comes with us, with Blondie, Big Fat Cob or My Mare Gydja. This is me, and My Mare Gydja, taking a break on one of our rambles.
As the winter days begin to lengthen, and we long for the grass to start growing again, I can feel the Show season approaching. My Mate Roger increases our rambling, we start to practice my awesome fast tölt, and My Mate Roger tries to explain to me the importance of speed changes. Apparently going as fast as you can is not always what the judges are looking for.
Regular readers of my blog will know that my early show experiences were not my best. I got very anxious and didn’t understand what I needed to do. I still thought I was awesome, but My Mate Roger said our performance was embarrassing! Last year, however, was my year. Even the Woman said I was awesome, and one of the British Champions was heard to say that I was like a different horse. It was a good year. I won some trophies, and even Blondie got some rosettes.
Apparently we are going to all the shows this year. The Easter Show on 4th and 5th of April, the Spring Show on the 16th and 17th of May (both in Dorset), the British Championships in Scotland from 19th to 21st June, and the September Show, back in Dorset!
Editors note : not all the events listed above are on the events calendar yet. The sharp eyed will spot that LVH is double booked in June. LVH will be at the British Champjonships, but there will still be a display of Icelandic horses at the Kinver Fayre in Staffordshire.
Many Fleygur Fans will remember the dramas of last years show – broken down Stable of Wheels, arriving a day late, My Mare Gydja not allowed on the show ground…. and, well, basically I did not perform at my best. So the stakes for this years show were high. My Mate Roger had a lot to prove, and my ever growing fan base had high expectations. I wasn’t worried. All year everyone has been telling me how awesome I am, what was there to worry about?
This year, My Mare Gydja got to stay at home, as the baby Blondie was to have his first Championship experience. We set off, with my newly finished logo on the the Stable on Wheels, stopping to feed the Landy on the way.
We arrived, without incident, and after settling in to our very small paddock, we had a look around, and a brief practice on the Oval Track. My Mate Roger was very pleased with me. Gradually the field filled up with small paddocks and lots of Icelandic horses, many of whom I recognised from the Spring Show, and last years Championships. There were some serious competition horses there and I was looking forward to catching up with Krafter, who has competed in the World Championships. I thought I might give him some tips.
There was a professional photographer at the event, and Blondie was absolutely sure he was there just to photograph him. I got really fed up of explaining to him that the competition was about how well he showed off his gaits, not how pretty he was.
Even one of the judges called him a ‘beauty queen’. Really, it doesn’t help, he is vain enough as it is. I would also like to point out that, the small crowds of Fleygur Fans that gathered around our paddock throughout the weekend were only taking lots of photographs of Blondie for practice, before taking the ultimate photo of me!
My first competition was the preliminary round for the Elementary Tölt, and I didn’t put a foot wrong. There was no repeat of my shouting as I was going round, though I do confess to taking a sideways look at Blondie as we went past. He was standing by the track, grazing! The next competition was the prelim for the Elementary Four Gait. This is much harder, and requires more concentration. I had to show walk, trot, tölt and canter (on the correct lead). Of course I was awesome at this as well and came first in both. That evening, My Mate Roger was chuffed to be presented with our Elementary Combination trophy, for the highest combined score in the prelim classes. I don’t know why they present these to the humans, when the horses do all the work, but I was through to the finals for both events, and that meant another opportunity to show off my enormous talent.
Blondie’s first outing was in the Intermediate Loose Rein Tolt, where they go once round the oval track with normal contact, and then have to ride the long sides with no rein contact at all, without losing the tolt. Blondie came second in prelim round, so he was in the final for his class too.
I was supposed to be in another class, a brand new one for the Championships. This very special class was organised by My Mate Roger and the Woman. It was the class with the most entries for the whole show, and designed to show a true partnership, and the versatility of the Icelandic Horse. The Handy Combination consisted of riding one round of the Oval Track in any gait, and getting a score. Then the partnership had to negotiate ten obstacles, from bending poles, rein back, scary tarpaulin, a bridge, S-bend and more. There was a ridden class and a led class, so everyone could have a go. At the last minute My Mate Roger withdrew me from the class. He said it was because they were short of volunteers, and he had to do all the judging of the obstacles, but I think it was because he knew I would trash the opposition, and he didn’t want to discourage them. Blondie and the Woman had a go though, but he didn’t even get into the rosettes!
At the end of day one we deserved a rest and My Mate Roger gave me a lovely massage, to make sure I was limbered up for the next day.
Day two was finals day, and the tension was high. First up was me in the Elementary Four Gait Final. Walk and tolt were done, and I was in the lead and looking good. We moved into trot, and then canter, and I was sure I was going to win, but I was pipped at the post, by Brekki! The Elementary Tolt Final was next, this was my specialty, and I gave it all I had . There was an awkward moment, where my prize was nearly presented to the wrong horse. I was about to demand a stewards inquiry, but the mistake was realised at the last minute, and I got my first place rosette and trophy.
My classes done, Blondie managed a third in his Loose Rein Tolt class, which is not bad for his first Championship, and in an Intermediate class too!
After each final class there is a ‘Tack Check’ for every horse, to make sure that nose bands are not too tight, no inappropriate equipment is used, and there is no harm to the horse. This includes checking inside our mouths to make sure there is no pinching. I wasn’t keen on this bit, but it is good to know our welfare has such high priority.
Finally, the show was over, and it was time to head home. As usual we were last to leave, but as was tradition, we could not do so without a little incident with the Stable on Wheels. All loaded up and ready to go, and the Stable on Wheels went lame! A few choice words from My Mate Roger, and hastily arranged assistance, and we were finally on our way.
All in all, it was a good show. My Mate Roger always said I had it in me to do well. He said I just needed to get a grip of my separation issues first. He claims his special training did the trick, but I knew I was awesome all along.
For the next show I will be moving up from Elementary, to Intermediate classes, so look out – Little Viking Horse is coming!
But for now, I am off on my holidays to Wales on Saturday. At last time for a rest.
Last Sunday My Mare Gydja and I had a staring role at a local country fayre. We had been asked to star alongside the Vikings, who were turning up to do battle, and be generally scary. Icelandic horses are the direct descendants of the horses of the Vikings, so it was only right the we attend.
It was a good opportunity to tell everyone how wonderful Icelandic horse are, so off we went. It all started well enough, and the Woman set up the stand, while My Mate Roger played at being a Viking.
But that was not all there was to it. Then we had to ride in the parade through the village. My Mare Gydja didn’t think there was a big problem, but I didn’t like it one bit! There was a marching band, shouting Vikings, banging drums, waving flags, Morris dancers, belly dancers, balloons and balls. My Mate Roger had to get off and lead me though.
Finally we got back the the show ground, and our camp, next to the Vikings. Lots of people came to visit us, and some Fleygur Fans were very small indeed. I was very well behaved, obviously.
Then it was our turn in the arena! I demonstrated the walk, trot and tölt, while the Woman stood in the middle explaining how awesome I am, and being bossy, as usual. Then we all tölted off together, and the crowd applauded us!
Then the Vikings started fighting, and it all looked a bit gruesome. My Mare Gydja and I agreed that humans are just a little bit crazy.
At last it was time to go home for a long rest. However today we are off to the British Icelandic Horse Championship and Festival. It is turning out to be a busy summer.
Three weeks after the Spring Show ended, and before we begin the count down to the Summer Show in June, I am finally recovered enough to submit my report. Fleygur Fans who follow me on Facebook, will have already seen some of the live posts from the show, and I have already boosted about the number of rosettes that Blondie and I brought home. Though it should be noted, for the record, that most of the rosettes are mine, and not Blondie’s.
We set off for sunny Dorset early, leaving Big Fat Cob and My Mare Gydja (and both riding hats!) behind in rainy Shropshire. It was a long trip, nearly five hours, and unfortunately Blondie has a habit of sitting on the rear bar, and rubbed a nasty hole in his tail. Being blond, it really showed up, but I tried not to tease him about it. He thinks a lot of his good looks, and was worried it might ruin his fancy dress costume, which the Woman had been preparing for weeks.
There were a few other horses there when we arrived, and the following day, after My Mate Roger and the Woman borrowed some riding hats, thirteen of us went for a ramble in the New Forest. It was very exciting with all the new horses to meet. Blondie was very very excited, and insisted on being at the front of the ride at the start, though he did settle eventually. The best bit was when we all got turned out in a a field full of lush grass, at the lunch time stop. We ran around a bit, working out who was boss of this new temporary herd, but in the end I found Blondie, and we stuck together, and got on with eating.
The next day, we had a long lazy morning, but gradually the field filled up with more and more small paddocks, with Icelandic horses in. Then came the fun part, the Spring Fling! First, the fancy dress, with the theme “Songs and Singers”. My Mate Roger had promised that our costume would be suitable for my celebrity status, and sure enough we entered as “Bat out of Hell” by Meat Loaf. Blondie and the Woman entered as “Angel” by the Eurythmics, the Woman having found a way to disguise the hole in Blondie’s tail, and he won a second place rosette. I got a third, but at the prize giving we were accused of trying to cheat, by eating the costume of the winner, who went as “A Needle in a Hay Stack”! We thought she had finished with it, that is all.
Some more fun classes followed, and My Mate Roger and I got more rosettes, for the Handy Pony, and the Beer Tolt.
The group ramble, and the Spring Fling classes were a great way to recover from the trip down and help us settle in, but the serious classes were due the next morning, and it began to dawn on My Mate Roger and the Woman, that some serious preparation was needed. We don’t have an oval track at home, or a school, or even a flat field to practice on, so we took the chance to practice on the oval track before the competition got going.
Then disaster struck, something that would threaten the whole Show. Months of preparation, and hard work was all at risk. Not to mention the potential waste of the beautiful weather. As the word spread across the Show ground, the humans gathered in small groups, talking quietly. The Show might have to be cancelled they said, and looked anxiously in the direction of the Oval Track. The wet, British weather, and burrowing bunnies had taken their toll on the surface, and part of the Oval Track had collapsed! Could it be fixed? How long would it take? Would it be safe? You can’t have an Icelandic Horse show without an Oval Track! All these silly pony games, dressing up and falling over (the Bendy Pole Race) is all very well, but at an Icelandic Horse Show you have to show off the gaits, and for that you need the proper amount of space, and a good surface.
Not to be deterred, ‘Nick the Viking’, and ‘Chairman Tim’ (see notes) worked until it grew too dark to see, digging out the damaged track, and as night fell, a gaping hole was all that remained of that part of the track. At first light a team of volunteers arrived to help, along with My Mate Roger, and the hole was filled, stamped down, tested, and left ready for inspection by the judges. The start of the show was delayed but, with a slight adjustment to part of one side, the track passed inspection! The Show was on.
Blondie and I both entered this. In the qualifier round, My Mate Roger qualified for the finals, but Blondie came seventh, which meant he just missed out. For his first time, it was not a bad score. He tolts slowly, and unlike me, he was not bothered when the other horses tolted past him; and everyone thought he looked cute. The following day, one of the finalists withdrew, which meant that Blondie got to have another go, and he managed to move up a place, winning a fifth place rosette, and I won a joint third.
Happy Hackers 4 Gait
Blondie didn’t enter this, because he mainly walks and tolts at the moment, and hasn’t yet worked on his trot. I found my trot last year, so I could have a go at this class this year. I did quite well, I even managed to canter on the right lead, trotted when I was asked to, and didn’t shout out once. We came Second in the qualifying round, and second overall in the finals the next day. I was a very Happy Hacker!
Happy Hackers Loose Rein Tolt
This is Blondie’s favourite, because he gets to show off how Icelandic horses can tolt on a loose rein. It means the horse really has to be able to carry itself well, and the communication between the horse and rider has to be good. They can not rely on the reins for control. This is why I can not do this class. For his first time, he did very well, and got good scores for the beat of his tolt. Not many entered this class, so to keep doing well, he now needs to learn to power more from his back legs, bringing them under him to push forward. That way he will be better collected at the front end, not stick his nose out so much and bring his back up, making himself stronger. I am an expert at this of course.
My final Class was T1 Tolt, and it didn’t go so well. My Mate Roger and I disagreed about the speed we should be going, and I wasn’t really listening to him. I think we were both a bit nervous, and as this was not a Happy Hackers class, it was a bit more physically demanding too. I was tired! My Mate Roger did not have a good feeling about this class before we entered, and he decided that we would not ride in the final the next day, even though we did qualify to do so. Enough is enough, and this class proved to be one to many. You have to know when it is time to stop. We had had a good show, and My Mate Roger was made up, when he found that our combined score from the Happy Hacker classes, made us the Happy Hacker Champions!
During the Show a few of my fans came to visit me, and admire the wonderful Icelandic Horses.
All in all it had been a good show, and after all the others had left, Blondie and I got a bigger paddock to rest in before the long trip home.
I am not the only Icelandic Horse living in the UK, though I am sure I must be the most famous. Icelandic horses were bred for transport over long, and rough terrain, and also for eating, but I don’t like to think about that! Icelandic horses can do lots of things, but I think rambling is what we are best at. So, in the midst of all the preparation for the Spring and Summer Shows, I thought you would like to hear from two of my cousins, who love their rambling as much as I do. Here is their story.
Hello, LVH fans. It is a great honour to be asked to write this blog on LVH pages. My name is Flo, which means Flea. I am nearly twenty-three years old, and live with my long lost daughter Flicka, whose name means Girl, near the New Forest, in England. Flicka and me was separated in Ireland, but ten years ago she came back to me. I was so pleased, we now live together and go everywhere together. We are looked after by our ‘mate’ Colin, who we are training to understand his role in life, which is of course to look after us. I have been with him for fourteen years, and think he is nearly trained. We are both Viking horses.
Like LVHs mate Roger, Colin has a mobile stable, and he puts us in it and takes us to the New Forest, a place called Ashley Walk. He parks in the same place, and gives us some hay while he sorts himself out, which can take ages. We have to be very careful of our hay, the wild ponies try to sneak up on us, and sometimes the long eared ones. Colin has to keep chasing them away. After our hay, he takes us to a small river to drink, then he gets on Flicka, sometimes with a struggle, and we go off on a ramble! I usually start ‘in hand’.
Flicka, who Colin calls ‘my friend Flicka’ most of the time, and when she tries to run off with him, ‘the Flicka monster’, can be very keen at the start. It’s a bit of a hill, and she tries to run up it, not always in the direction as Colin and me was going. I love this, as he sometimes drops the rope and it takes him a while to get it back. I have a lovely chomp on the heather, while he tries to get it from Flicka -great fun!
We climb the hill ,and soon have a nice tolt on a track where the ‘bouncing bombs’ were tested. Last year Colin fell off me up there, unlike the bombs he did not bounce, but he did explode! Before he hit the ground this yellow Jacket became very large, Flicka said he looked like the ‘Michelin man’, but I don’t know what that is? Then he made hissing sounds, and we ran off. He caught us, but seemed very lame, and hobbled back to the mobile stable. He did not ride us for a long while, we need to try this one again. It’s on Youtube, to watch Flo and Colin falling, click here.
We usually get a lovely rest under some trees. Flicka has a roll and we share an apple with Colin. We share it fairly, one slice for Colin three slices for me and Flicka. That’s fair, we have done all of the work.
Sometimes he brings blond ‘ yard friends’ with him, both have black dogs, we like black dogs. One has a lovely pony called Sexy Simon, I fancy him, but Flicka tried to bite him, and recons he is above his station! The other one came a couple of times, but neither come anymore. I hope it was nothing I did! Apparently they are both looking after us, while Colin goes to Iceland later this year. We wonder if we will get extra treats if we look hungry. Colin can be mean with the treats.
There was another blond, again with a big black dog, who had been out on me a long while back. She was at our home last week, I thought she was coming riding, as she has ridden me before, but she came and stuck a large thing in my mouth, and did things to my teeth . Apparently she is a vet. Moral beware blonds with black dogs! We like her really, our mate Willow, an Arab princess, was very lame, and she came and made her better again very quickly. We love Willow, thank you Helen, the vet, and her black dog!
Apparently another blond is going to ride me soon, but not very far, she has a big dog as well, but he is brown. She is only a little Flicka herself ,and needs her mummy with her. I have promised to be good.
Anyway, back to our rambles, we sometimes go up on a mound, it from the war again. We can see for miles and miles. Flicka thinks we can see Ireland, were we was born, but she is just dreaming, it’s Dorset, where Colin lives.
We come down through some woods, to a lovely stream with fresh water, we play a lovely game here. Sometimes Flicka goes through the water, I stop for a drink, Colin drops the rope, I have a drink, Flicka will not come back, Colin gets off, we both have a drink, and then a munch on the heather. A week ago a dog walker took a photo of this game. Her name is Susannah, she worried us a bit as she does ‘endurance’, and takes her Arab pony on very long rides. We don’t want Colin thinking he can do endurance – not with us he isn’t!
Sometimes we see strange things, they are called ‘Drifts’, where the wild ponies are chased by men on ponies, really fast. Flicka got caught in a drift once, with Colin, she was very good and stood still, despite charging ponies. Colin fell of a horse called Drift once, in Iceland – but that’s another story.
Sometimes we scare other horses and people, but we don’t mean to. We did this to a man, all dressed up on something called a ‘Hunt’. He was with lots of girls on ponies, but had a very tall horse – it shot sideways – he said we was dragons! We are not dragons, we are Viking Horses, just like LVH!
We are usually tired when we get back. Colin takes the saddle off ,and I have a roll or two, then we go back to the trailer, and like LVH, we have to meet our public. Seems to be lots of ‘tourists’, with little Flickas and boys, who want to say hello, and often have their photos taken. We have have met people from, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Belgium, USA, Pakistan, India, and even from Wales. Only the Germans ,and the Finns knew we was from Iceland.
Anyway, then its back home, to tell Willow our stories , snooze in the sun, and watch the tall horses go round and round in the ‘school’. We don’t understand this ‘school’, why would you want to be in the school, there is no heather to eat if the rider falls off!
With thanks to Flo, Flicka and Colin, for sharing their story.