Celebrity Life Style Part Two – It’s all about Boot Camp

Celebrity Life Style Part Two – It’s all about Boot Camp

I can do absolutely nothing for hours and hours but unfortunately doing nothing is not an option as Spring approaches. This is not, I have to point out because I am “full of Spring grass” or My Mare Gydja is “in season” or any other equine related biological explanation. No, the excessive level of activity in the Spring months is all created by a devious human invention. Boot Camp.

My Mate Roger tells me it’s preparation for the Shows and calls them ‘clinics’ but whatever cuddly supportive name he wants to give them it basically means being dragged all over the country in the Stable on Wheels and then having to go round and round in circles while various humans comment on the finer points or otherwise of my gaits. My gaits are fine just the way they are Thank You!

Home again its me

Various tricks can be used to deter the humans from taking you Boot Camp. There are obvious annoyances like losing a shoe just before said event or going ‘a bit lame’, though it has to be said that these are more a case of happen-stance than careful planning on my part. More often than not I have to accept that the Boot Camp experience has to be endured but no one said I had to endure it quietly. I make it my habit to shout, often and loudly to my mates. As a result of this behaviour My Mate Roger decided on one occasion that it was a good idea to take me to Boot Camp on my own, I was not impressed. I shouted all though the night even though there were other horses nearby and My Mate Roger was camped right next to me. By the morning I was a bit tired and My Mate Roger hadn’t got much sleep either. I don’t think My Mate Roger was happy with my performance on the track that day as this silly plan has never been repeated and one of my herd always accompanies me now when I go away.

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My Mare Gydja has her own clever method for making the humans look silly. It basically involves performing perfectly the very thing your human has identified as ‘the issue’ on the first ask at Boot Camp. She went to Boot Camp a few years ago as a ‘four gaited horse who possibly due to an injury as a youngster didn’t like to tölt’. The Woman wanted her assessed to decide whether to accept that the tölt was lost or whether it could be trained back. ‘Let’s see you try the tölt’ said the trainer. She watched for a minute and then gave her verdict. ‘Nothing wrong with that tölt at all’. The Woman was dumbfounded. For an encore My Mare Gydia showed flying pace when asked to canter round the corner of the school which is not bad for a ‘four gaited’ horse! She’s a clever mare who likes to keep the humans guessing. I have my own version of this trick. I spent years pretending to My Mate Roger that I was such a tolt machine that I couldn’t trot.

There are some benefits of Boot Camps though. Fleygur Fans come to visit and give me treats, I get to stare meaningfully at the tent entrance so that the humans feel obligated to feed me hay as soon as they get up, still wearing their pyjamas

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….and then there’s the horse whisperer. She dispenses wise words and wisdom to My Mate Roger but what she whispers to me is for my ears only and I’m not telling.

Check out what she says at 3mins 30secs

Boot Camp season approaches!

Read “Celebrity Lifestyle Part One” Here https://littlevikinghorse.com/2015/03/01/a-celebrity-lifestyle-part-1-its-all-about-food/

 

Two steps forward, one step back – The British Championships 2015

Two steps forward, one step back – The British Championships 2015

Roger has often said that ‘horses are a lesson in humility’ and on the journey to success it is helpful to remember that sometimes you will take two steps forward and one step back. In my last blog I wrote about how well Fleygur had done at the Spring Show, mainly because of how relaxed he was. Since the show he has improved even more, bringing his back legs under himself to power from behind and producing a much nicer and relaxed walk.   Roger has been using a number of exercises to relax him, get him listening and into the the right shape. We had high hopes for the British Championships, though tinged with a little apprehension. The British Championships were being held in West Linton, Scotland, a place Fleygur had never been, and we suspected that part of his success at the Spring Show was his familiarity with Oakfield Farm.

During preparation for the show Roger was having problems with Fleygur’s floating panel saddle slipping forward. When it stays in the right place it’s great, but too far forward and the panels press into his shoulders. When we bought him he wore a crupper, but Roger was concerned about how this might effect his spine, and Fleygur didn’t seem to like it much. Two weeks before the Championships Fleygur’s new Top Reiter Start saddle arrived and he seemed to go well in it.

For my part preparation for the show was difficult. Work commitments took me away from home so I couldn’t ride much and I had developed a sore back which was taking time to heal. I could not get time off before the Show, so Roger took the horses to Scotland on his own on the Thursday, and I joined them on Friday night.

A rest stop on route. Feeling Small

A rest stop on route. Feeling Small

On route to the British Championships. A seven hour trip.

On route to the British Championships. A seven hour trip.

On the first day of the Show Roger had the opportunity to attend a short clinic with a top rider, Charlotte Cook. Fleygur went well and with Charlotte’s help Roger was able to improve his performance even more. The next few hours for Roger were spent organising and running the Track and Trail class ( a new innovation for the BCs). I would love to enter this myself sometime but even though I had designed it my work commitments meant I couldn’t even get there to supervise Roger! After running around all day later that evening Roger picked me up at Edinburgh station and we went to bed late and exhausted.

So Saturday morning found Team LVH all together and ready for our classes, or were we?

Camp LVH for humans

Camp LVH – for Humans

Camp LVH - for Horses!

Camp LVH – for Horses!

Fleygur was entered in two classes the first was Intermediate Four Gait, where he has to show walk, trot, canter (on the correct lead) and slow and fast tolt.The second class was Intermediate Tolt, requiring slow and fast tolt. Because this is the BCs I couldn’t help Flegur with his anxiety by having Svipur in hand near to the track, and the lay out of the event meant that the track was along way from where he really wanted to be, back with Svipur.

It was immediately apparent that Fleygur was not happy. For both events he was difficult to mount, when he doesn’t move a muscle usually and as soon as Roger was on board he was trying to take off. For the first time ever he was also napping and refusing to go forward. We had never experienced this with him before and Roger had to use all his strength and riding skill he had just to keep Fleygur going forward and to stop him from going up. Trying to use more subtle aids and small moves to improve listening and shape were abandoned in favour of just staying in control!

BCs 2015 023

Trying to keep him calm

Oh no, not the armbands!

Oh no, not the armbands!

Roger struggled in the Four Gait to get four gaits and barely managed any trot at all! To get trot Fleygur has to relax and lower his head, and this just wasn’t happening. Canter wasn’t much better and I could see that Roger was struggling for control. However despite all this he did manage to scrape though into the final albeit in last place. His tolt class was much better and although I have seen better slow tolt, his fast tolt was good and he went through to the final in the leading position.

In between him fighting with Roger he did produce some nice gaits, and he wasn’t shouting so we hoped that by the finals day he would have settled and could be in with a chance.

Now it was my turn with Svipur in the Elementary Tolt. At the lunch break, having not ridden Svipur for a week or had the chance to show him the oval track I led him in hand through the warm up area and up to the track. He was really on his toes and by the time I put him back in the paddock I was starting to feel nervous. When the time came however he calmed nicely with my usual pre-hack exercises which include ‘kissing the stirrup ‘, responding the pressure by flexing at the poll, a bit of rein-back, and generally moving his feet around. All the stuff that completely failed to work with Fleygur earlier. However I completely underestimated the time before the class and barely got any tolting in before I had to be in the collecting ring, where I found I had to lead the class in. This is a disadvantage on Svipur, as he will go better on the track with a lead. I was just getting into my rhythm when Svipur spotted a rake lying by the side of the track, a track he had never been on and he was out front, and obviously it was there to eat him! Despite not being a spooky horse he spooked sideways and stopped dead! He went on again almost straight away but by now I had lost my rhythm and was guarding my sore back and we never quite recovered. As a result his tolt was  inconsistent and ‘rolling’. I was called for a tack check so didn’t hear my scores but I knew it hadn’t been a good performance and although we didn’t come last, we didn’t make the final.

Tack check is a standard part of Icelandic shows to ensure that tack is within the rules and correctly fitted and that the horse does not have any injuries. In the preliminary rounds this is done on a random sample, and in the finals all horses are checked.

Fleygur and Roger at the Tack Check

Fleygur and Roger at the Tack Check

I was really down about my performance and to be honest I had not been in a great mood since I had arrived. I was tired and felt under-prepared. I definitely was under-prepared. Note to self: I can not just swan up to a show at the last minute, having not ridden my horse much in the last few weeks, do barely any warm up and take him on a track he has never seen before and expect a good performance! The best advice for Roger and myself that afternoon came from Charlotte Cook. For Roger ‘focus on what went well’  and for me ‘get your horse on that track this evening’. So after the days events had finished I tacked up and did just that. Svipur behaved perfectly, no spooking and we did some nice tolting with a bit of coaching from Roger. I tried to get a little trot too, Svipur’s weakest gait, but despite me thinking I had trot Roger told me it was pace so I stopped. I don’t want to teach him ‘piggy pace’! I think I will need some help with knowing what my horses feet are doing, and can feel some more lessons are needed. Roger took Fleygur for one round of trot, just to prove he could and we called it a day.

The evening was spent with the other competitors and visitors, a meal, giving out some prizes, thanks to those organising the event and some silly games (for those that didn’t sneak away at this point!). The Icelandic Horse people are a friendly and supportive bunch.

Finals day arrived. As I didn’t qualify for a final had the option to ride in a ‘Three from Four’ class, but I declined. I already knew I couldn’t get trot and I didn’t want another poor experience on the track. I would rather keep in my mind the nice tolting I had done the evening before, besides the class started at 8am and I needed my rest! Instead I spent the day being groom for Roger.

Fleygur was not much better and was still difficult to mount and handle. Now we were questioning everything. Did the new saddle fit after all? Was he in pain? May be it was just that he didn’t know the place. Should he just do tolt classes, avoid group classes, should we show him at all?  Roger tried to focus on the positives, Fleygur had shown a nice fast tolt, and his trot when he does it is good. He wasn’t shouting and anyway he was going into the final in his first class in last place so what did he have to lose? I advised Roger to treat it as a warm up for his Tolt final.

Slow Tolt

Slow Tolt

Trot at last!

Trot at last!

It worked! This time he got all the gaits and managed to move up two places winning a fourth place rosette. It had been a struggle though and even at the end Fleygur didn’t calm down and fizzed about on the track. I can’t help but wonder how well Fleygur could do if we can get his anxiety under control.

That horse is giving me a funny look!

That horse is giving me a funny look!

Forth place in Intermediate Four Gait

Forth place in Intermediate Four Gait

His last class was Intermediate Tolt final but Fleygur was still fighting, and he didn’t go as well as the day before. He dropped from first place to third and as if to underline his fall the skies opened and chucked down a load of hailstones. Welcome to midsummer in Scotland!

Hailstones

The final Tack Check accompanied by hailstones!

That evening over a glass of wine Roger and I conducted a post mortem and made a list of things to do and things to remember for the next show in September and all the others. Here it is:-

1. Always bring rain sheets (what ever the time of year). We did take them, but we didn’t for our first show in 2013.

2. Keep the weekend before the show free to practice and prepare

3. Get to the show early enough to get your horse on the Oval track, even if it is only once and practice your test

4. Always use the same warm up routine, different for each horse.

5. Work out a fixed warm up routine for each of them before the next show! (20 minutes for Svipur, 10 minutes for Fleygur)

6. Bring an alternative bridle and saddle (or don’t change your saddle two weeks before a show!)

7. If Fleygur is playing up get him going forward, rather than slow paced exercises at walk

8. While out hacking do timed tolts and trots to match the classes.

9. Consider teaching Fleygur one class, e.g T1 because the familiarity might help his anxiety

10. Have an honest debrief on what we have learned on the first night, and write it down.

rosettes BCs 2015Fine looking fella

Focus on what went well

Focus on what went well

Success is a Journey not a Destination – Reflections on the Spring Show

Little Viking Horse usually writes his own reports on the shows and whilst not doubting what an awesome horse he really is I thought his fans might find it interesting to hear a more balanced view of his achievements and some reflections on how far he has come.

Fleygur’s performance at the Spring Show was my favourite. Of course there were horses there that were more powerful, more flamboyant and more talented, but I was delighted with him.

Loose Rein Tolt

Loose Rein Tolt


Spring Show 2015 533

Impressive Pace Horses


Beautiful tolting

Beautiful Tolting

 

Spring Show 2015 422

Nice Moves

 I was delighted with his recent performance, not because he won his Intermediate Tölt class and came a very close second in the Intermediate Four Gait, although of course that was great, I was delighted because only a few weeks earlier we discussed withdrawing him from competitions all together, and this could have been his last one.  He really pulled it out of the bag at this show and achieved some good scores and placings, but the main reason he will be back is that Fleygur seemed so much more relaxed and Roger wasn’t having to fight with him all the time. They have come such long way since their first ever show, the British Championships in 2013.

Let me wind back a little to give you a sense of quite how far he has come. When we bought Fleygur in 2009 he was our first Icelandic horse. He had been very well cared for (his previous owner was much more successful keeping his weight down than we are!) but he had not been ridden much for a couple of years due to his owner developing a back problem. When we tried him out he was difficult, he was an absolute gentlemen on the ground but the complete opposite when ridden away from his mare. I couldn’t believe my ears when Roger said ‘we’ll take him’. So why did we? Roger describes it like this

He was frantic. He shouted constantly for the mare and felt like he was going to explode at any minute but he didn’t, and he didn’t buck, bolt or rear and I just felt he wouldn’t. He felt really wound up but I thought he was a good stamp of a horse

I could add that as winter was approaching and his owner was keen to find him a new home as soon as possible his price had recently been cut in half and Roger always likes a bargain!

Fleygur continued like this for some months. He did everything you asked of him, but he was always anxious when ridden out alone. He didn’t spook but he lent on the bit and pulled, all the time. If you gave any release he would take off with you and I have never known any horse walk so fast on the way home, an uncomfortable short choppy walk. Even when I hung back on my cob, if you let him Fleygur would continue his speed march home disappearing out of sight round the corners. I once got so fed up with him marching home that I made him stop and insisted he stood still. If he moved I was determined to stand still longer, I now think that it was a silly battle of wills that was not really going to teach him anything, but I was so frustrated and uncomfortable it was what I resorted too. The thing is he stopped every time I corrected him but eventually he started trembling and I could feel him starting to boil over. I really thought he might go crazy so I jumped off and walked him for a bit. He immediately calmed down and I was able to remount and ride him home.

I stopped riding him. He was too strong for me and I didn’t like the amount of contact I needed just to have some sort of control, and anyway he was Roger’s horse!

After we had owned Fleygur for about six months Roger developed a sore back and the more he rode Fleygur the worse it got. In all other respects he was a lovely horse to have around. A real character, quick learner and a dream to handle on the ground, but this wasn’t going to work and Roger said we would have to sell him. Being the sentimental one I offered to swap horses for a while. I was hoping Roger would be able to sort out his back and we could keep Fleygur, so for three months Roger got to ride my lovely armchair Cob, Beanie and I was back on the horse that use to make me cry with frustration.

Over those months a number of things changed. We changed his French link snaffle for a Waterford, which he couldn’t lean on in the same way and gave me something to work with. We went to Iceland where we rode lots more horses and had some lessons. We asked everyone we met, in Iceland and back home about how to deal with horses that pulled. I tried really hard not to ‘pull back’ and to get him to relax but the progress was so slow I barely noticed it. We didn’t really know other people with Icelandic horses back then, and before the days of Facebook groups it was much harder to make and keep the links and find out what was going on.

We visited a Western Equestrian Show locally which seemed to be the antithesis of the riding we were doing with Fleygur, nice quiet calm horses all on a loose rein. It was clear that Roger was seriously thinking of going back to Western riding and buying a Quarter horse. At the event we met a human and equine physiotherapist who gave Roger a treatment and recommended he reviewed his riding position.

We decided we needed to know more about Fleygur and contacted his breeder for help, We booked a lesson with Janice Hutchinson at Siamber Wen Icelandic’s where we discovered that Fleygur had always had a good tölt, and that he use to have a nice trot too, though we had not been able to find it up to that point, but we also found out that he had always been an anxious type of horse. It appeared that Roger was right, he was a ‘good stamp of a horse’, but he did have issues!

Janice told me I might make a good enough rider in a couple of years time if I worked at it and although I had only recently returned to riding, I had ridden since I was six so I took this quite badly! The thing is, now I look back she was right, I am still working on it, but my riding is significantly better now. After her feedback I made a determined effort to stop ‘wiggling’ in the saddle and Janice made a significant correction to Rogers riding position too, which he has maintained ever since and his back problem has not returned.

We continued to research, got help and lessons from Fi Pugh at Old Hills Icelandic’s and that summer we took Fleygur and Beanie to the Gower Peninsular on holiday, and on one particular day riding over the Common at Cefn Bryn I commented to Roger that Fleygur really wasn’t pulling, even though we were heading back to the yard. We swapped horses and Roger rode him the rest of the way home. He announced that it was like riding a different horse. I was so chuffed.

The Gower

The Gower

Although this was a break through the problem wasn’t fixed and there were plenty more challenges to come, but now at least we knew that we could give some release to Fleygur and that returning to a softer feel was not out of the question. As Fleygur became more relaxed and his bond with Roger grew stronger his character really began to shine through. He has become so relaxed at home that Roger often doesn’t tie him up and I really think he would go anywhere with him.

Two years later and we were offered the opportunity to buy Gydja, Fleygur’s mare, how could we say no? When we brought her home it was clear that Fleygur recognised her and although this now presented us with the opportunity of each taking an Icelandic horse to one of the shows, we had not really thought through the likelihood of this increasing rather than decreasing his separation anxiety! Nevertheless I am glad we bought Gydja, she is a lovely gentle but spirited horse and I think Fleygur was pleased too! You can read about his Favourite Day Ever on this link

It was around this time that Fleygur began his celebrity career, I started his Facebook page and later the website and YouTube channel. Later that year he even got short-listed in the Finals of the Equestrian Social Media Awards 2014 (Talking Horses category) and got his photo in the Guardian Newspaper! Clearly it was time he had his own logo too, designed by a colleague.

Little Viking Horse in the Guardian Magazine

Little Viking Horse in the Guardian Magazine

   

We started taking Fleygur to clinics (or Boot Camps as LVH calls them) at Old Hills Icelandic’s and had lots of good advice from Karen Birgitte Rasmussen and began to think about shows….

The first show we attended was the British Championships in 2013. You can read Fleygur’s account here, but believe me he underplays what a disaster it was! Fleygur was barely controllable, and shouted the whole time for Gydja. Roger tried his best to calm him, but nothing seemed to work and he scored a very low 1.8 in his first ever class. Despite putting a good face on it, and lots of encouraging comments from people, Roger was gutted.

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A very wound up horse

We attended more clinics and started to attend shows at Oakfield Farm in Dorset. These were much more relaxed events where we were able to work on Fleygur’s separation anxiety. He still shouted a lot but his did sometimes put in some quite good performances and at the next British Championships in 2014 were he was much improved and brought home the shields for Elementary Tölt Champion and Elementary Combination.

Elementary Tolt Final

Winning the Elementary Tolt at the 2014 British Championships

 However his anxiety constantly hampered his performance and even though he was often placed in his classes he was still too stiff, too ‘upside down’ and often called out for his mates. We had a long way to go, and had begun to question whether taking him to shows was really fair on him, as he got so wound up. Quite how far we still had to go became most apparent when Roger took him on his own to a team training event (otherwise know by Fleygur as ‘Mega Boot Camp’). He travelled well on his own, but once at the event he called – all night and when Roger rode him the next day he was exhausted and tense, this was not a winning combination. It was a tough weekend for Roger and although he got some good advice about preparing for the Easter Show the following weekend his confidence was not high.

Fleygur was entered in two classes but when we got to the show it was clear he was not feeling himself. He was subdued and didn’t eat all the food provided – which is unheard of for him. He played it all down a bit in his Easter Show Report but we were worried about him. Roger withdrew him from one class, and declined to ride in the final of the other. For the first time Fleygur came home with no rosettes. Had it all been too much for him? Was it fair to keep asking him to perform on the Oval track when he got so tense? Had he gone as far as he could? Perhaps it was time to gracefully retire him from competitions and for Roger to concentrate on bringing on our new youngster, Jandi.

Time to retire?

Time to retire?

We decided to give him one more go at the Spring Show at Oakfield Farm Icelandic’s. It was a place Fleygur had been to several times, and the atmosphere there is relaxed. Roger entered him in two intermediate classes, Tölt and the Four Gait. We would give it one more go, and decide whether or not to take him to the British Championships in June based on this.

As we attended more shows we had progressed from me having to hold Svipur near to the track to keep Fleygur calm, to me walking with him in hand after Roger had warmed him up. This meant that Roger could watch the other competitors and concentrate on what he had to do in his next class while I focussed on getting Fleygur to relax. I kept him moving and focussed on me, talked to him and knew where he liked to be scratched or massaged best. It seemed to work and both Roger and Fleygur were more relaxed entering his classes. We couldn’t do this for the Intermediate Tölt as I was riding Svipur in this class too, but probably because he had Svipur with him he stayed calm and went on to win the class.

Fleygur in tolt 

He performed well in the Intermediate Four Gait too going on to win second place with a score very close to the winner, but it was not his placing that pleased me the most. It was how much more relaxed he was, and although he still needs to bring his hind legs under him more, and we need to try to help him be less stiff in his back, his shape was much improved – and he didn’t shout! Well maybe once. He just looked so much more relaxed. This video shows the tolt section of his Intermediate Four Gait class, there is still more to do, but for anyone who saw him at his first competition in 2013 this is a huge improvement.

Svipur and I got a third in the Intermediate Tölt and Roger and I were also presented with our Winners rosettes for the 2014 Rider Rankings.  So the Spring Show was a big success for the Little Viking Horse.

Spring Show Success

Spring Show Success


2014  Rider Rankings Winners - Non-FIPO Elementary Tolt (Catherine), V5 Elementary Four Gait and T8 Elementary Tolt (Roger)

2014 Rider Rankings Winners – Non-FIPO Elementary Tolt (Catherine), V5 Elementary Four Gait and T8 Elementary Tolt (Roger)

 

  

Roger and Fleygur in the Four Gait

Roger and Fleygur in the Four Gait


So much more relaxed

So much more relaxed


It was a lovely show with good food, great company and excellent hosts. When we started with Fleygur we knew next to nothing about Icelandic horses and the gaits and sometimes I still feel I know nothing, but what I do know is this – being with our horses should be fun. It could have been the right decision to withdraw Fleygur from competitions, it’s no fun seeing your horse so stressed and at some point he will retire from being a ‘sports horse’ and just be a rambler instead. The competitions are actually a small part of what we do with our horses. It’s not all about winning but knowing that you are making progress and being recognised for that is a wonderful feeling.

The Icelandic horse community in the Britain is welcoming and helpful and there are many people who’s advice and help we have sought along the way, so thank you to everyone who has been part of our journey so far.

 

A final few photos from the Spring Show.

Flegyur in tolt

Flegyur in tolt


Five Gait Class. Riders of all ages.

Five Gait Class. Riders of all ages.


Relaxed at Oak field Farm

Relaxed at Oak field Farm


A well earned shower

A well earned shower

 

 

 

 

 

Fleygur relaxed on the track

Fleygur relaxed on the track


Discussing saddle fitting

Discussing saddle fitting


Who said Icelandic Horses can't jump!

Who said Icelandic Horses can’t jump!


Third place in the Intermediate Tolt

Third place in the Intermediate Tolt

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Track and Trail event at The IHSGB 2015 Summer Festival and British Championships

The Icelandic Horse Society of Great Britain are holding their 2015 Summer Festival and Championships on 19th – 21st of June at West Tarf, West Linton, Peebleshire in Scotland click here for details of the event and classes. My Mate Roger and the Woman are organising a special class called Track and Trail.

The Track and Trail class is intended to show a true partnership between horse and rider. The class will demonstrate a versatile Icelandic horse by combining a simple gait test with a test of the horse’s obedience and trust in their rider. The Woman say’s

It aims to be an all inclusive class and provides a great opportunity for those of you who have limited or no experience on the Oval track to have a go in your best gait, and receive a mark and comment from a qualified judge. The obstacles in the trail section are a good test for any horse, things we should all be able to do while we are out hacking, so this provides a real test for those who usually only compete on the Oval track.

Blondie has a go at the 'Bridge'

Blondie testing out the ‘bridge’ on the trail

 

Practising at home

 

I am sure I would be awesome at this class, but as My Mate Roger is the Judge and the Woman has designed the course I am not competing in it. I do apparently get the very important job of testing the course and setting the optimum timing.

Fleygur in tolt

Little Viking Horse strutting his stuff on the track

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the course that the Woman has designed

 

IHSGB SUMMER FESTIVAL and BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS 19th – 21st JUNE 2014

West Tarf, West Linton, Peebleshire EH46 7AA

Track and Trail class
Rules and guidance, and course outline

We are very pleased to confirm that this class is sponsored by Massage for Mobility click here for their website The winner will receive a massage for their horse on the Sunday.

 

What it is not

The Track and Trail class is not just a ‘handy pony’ class for children, though of course children are encouraged to enter too. It’s not ‘just a fun class’ though we would like you to have fun and enjoy the experience, and the judges and volunteers will help and guide you.

It is not a ‘Le Trek’ event and will be scored differently (more simply) though experience at Trek events will have been a good preparation for this class.

This will be the second time we have run the Track and Trail event at the BC’s and its existence depends on volunteers and people being committed to providing a diversity of experiences for people attending the show.

What it is

The Track and Trail class is intended to show a true partnership between horse and rider. The class will demonstrate a versatile Icelandic horse by combining a simple gait test with a test of your horse’s obedience and trust in your guidance as their rider.

It aims to be an all inclusive class and provides a great opportunity for those of you who have limited or no experience on the Oval track to have a go in your best gait, and receive a mark and comment from a qualified judge. The obstacles in the trail section are a good test for any horse, things we should all be able to do while we are out hacking, so this provides a real test for those who usually only compete on the Oval track.

It is also open to lead-rein and in-hand entries, which will constitute a separate class.
Section 1 Track

Choose your best gait and decide on which rein you are going to enter. You will be asked to inform us of your chosen gait before the class commences.

Enter the track and begin your test before you reach the first corner, making clear nod to the judge when you start.

If you are showing canter you may start your test at the first corner.

For trot, slow tolt, fast tolt or canter show one complete circuit.

If you are showing walk (including lead-rein and in-hand entries) you are only required to show walk along one long side. When you have completed this please turn around and exit the track as quickly as you can.

If you are showing pace you complete one circuit showing pace on each of the long sides. You will be scored on your best attempt.

As soon as you have completed the Oval Track section proceed to the waiting area for the Trail section. Depending on the number of entries there maybe a delay before you ride the second section.

 

Section 2 Trail

It is planned that this years Trail section will be laid out along the Pace Track, however you are not required (or permitted) to ride this section in Pace!

You will not be permitted to ride the course before the class opens.

There will be ten obstacles (see below) and a maximum time allowed for each entry. This will be confirmed on the day after the course has been tested, but is likely to be around five minutes. It is not a race and the timing will be ample to complete the course but is intend to keep up momentum.

If you are unable to complete an obstacle you will not be permitted multiple attempts and in most cases the scoring is designed to give a zero mark after a set number of refusals. If you wish to ride a failed obstacle again for your horses’ education we will try and accommodate this at the end of the class, depending on demands on the Pace Track.

Obstacles should be ridden in walk, trot, tolt or canter. However this is not a speed test and you should note that if you go past an obstacle this will count as a refusal. The course should be approached in a calm manner with the aim completing the obstacles smoothly and giving a good experience for your horse. Points will be deducted for rough riding or for excessive use of a stick/crop.

Maximum mark for each obstacle is five.
1. Bending Poles

Why? Responsiveness to lateral aids and flexibility, co-operative led horses.

Five poles (or equivalent) in a straight line, weave through the posts. After passing the first post there is one point for each subsequent post passed on the correct side. Minus one point for any missed posts, and for each incident of stepping over the edge of the Oval track or marked line. Plus one point for riding this in trot, tolt or canter.
2. Jump/step over
Why? Willingness and ability to negotiate a blockage on your path.
5 points – Jumped or stepped over clear with out knocking
4 points – cleared but knocked once (jump stays up)
3 points – one refusal (stopping or running out) but then jumped/stepped clear.
2 points – Obstacle is cleared but jump is knocked down
1 point – one refusal then knocked down, but still completes the obstacle
0 points – more than one refusal or failure to complete

3. Rein-back
Why? Do you have a reliable reverse gear? The ability to guide your horse backwards in a straight line to get out of a tricky situation.
Enter the marked path and ride until the horse front feet are over the second line. Walk backwards until horses front feet are over the rear line. The judge will guide you. 5 points maximum. Minus one point for each time the poles are knocked by the horses’ feet. Minus one point for one step outside the pole. Two steps outside the polls scores Zero for this obstacle.

4. Carry the Flag
Why? Riders balance and ability to control the horse whist carrying or lifting something, calmness of the horse around things that move and flap!
Pick up the flag from the first receptacle and carry it to the second. 5 points maximum score. Minus one point for missing the pick up (maximum of two misses allowed), minus one point for each miss of the put down (Maximum of two misses allowed) Zero score if flag is dropped, or you exceed permitted misses.

5. Side Pass
Why? Responsiveness to aids, ability to control your horses’ feet. The side pass and rein-back are two building blocks for opening gates. Carry the Flag will also assist in prepartion for gate opening.
Position your horse with front feet one side of the pole and hind feet the other. Ask your horse to walk sideways without knocking the pole.
Maximum mark 5. Minus one point for each knock or step over. Two step overs = Zero points.
6. To be confirmed (Likely to be ‘Bridge’ or curtain)
5 points maximum. Minus one point for each step off or refusal.

7. Dismount and stand
Why? Ability to leave your horse untied/ not held briefly. You never know when you might need to dismount and let go of your horse to deal with something while out riding.
Place horse in marked position and ask them to stand still. Walk to the designated point and wait. One point for each second your horse stays in the marked place.
8. Mount from the right, using a mounting block
Why? For safety reasons your horse must stand still for mounting. You should be able to mount your horse from either side, as when hacking it may not be possible to mount from the left side as people mostly do. Mounting from a block, or anything convenient and suitable is better for your horses back, so the ability to place them next to a block is important.
Position the horse next to the block, mount place feet in stirrups and wait 3 seconds. The judge will guide you. Maximum points 5. Minus one for each reposition of horse or movement during mounting.

9. S bend
Why? Responsiveness to the aids, control of your horses’ feet and ability to manoeuvre the horse in restricted space.
Ride through the marked S-bend. Maxium 5 points. Minus one for each knock of the post.Two steps out of the S-bend = Zero points.

10. Walking over tarpaulin
Why? You need to be able to walk your horse over any surface your need her/him too to be able to deal with the unexpected when out riding.
Walk straight over the tarpaulin. 5 points maximum. Minus one point for each refusal (stepping back or sideways), up to maximum of 5 attempts.

 
The course outline is provided as a guide and we will keep as close to it as possible. However the course designer or Event Manager reserve the right to amend this course prior to the class starting, depending on local circumstances. Please check notices at the show for any changes.

Blondie gets a First at the first Show of the Session

The Easter Show is the first show in the Icelandic Horse competition season. Icelandic Horses are shown in our natural state, hairy with full manes and tails, well why mess with perfection? However at Easter we still have most of our winter coats, and clipping is allowed for welfare reasons so some interesting hair cuts are on show.

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 197

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 397

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 168

I tolted next to that pretty little chestnut mare at the show last year, and apparently she is for sale http://ihsgb.co.uk/sales/horses-for-sale/

We arrived the day before the show started and My Mate Roger set up camp, a cozy tent, blow up bed and sheepskins for them, and a tiny little paddock with practically no grass for us. Quite how I am expected to be awesome in these conditions is beyond me. Well, okay My Mate Roger did provide some haylage and there were two bucket filled with water. The Woman complained that she had to keep filling them as Blondie was convinced they were there just to provide entertainment and kept picking them up, tipping the water out and waving them around. Eventually they were replaced with a bigger version which Blondie couldn’t tip over.

 

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 008Gradually the field filled up with other horses in little paddocks, and humans in lorries, tents, caravans or just sleeping in their horses stable on wheels! There was a good deal of chatter, hugging and comparing notes about what everyone had been doing over the winter. Of course being a celebrity horse most people knew what I had been up to anyway, but still lots of humans came over to admire me.

Helgi says  "It's my Stable on Wheels, can I come in please?"

Helgi says “It’s my Stable on Wheels, can I come in please?”

One of the neighbours

There was a really good turn out for the show, and some people had come a long way just to watch us awesome Icelandic horses in action, but I was not feeling my best, and My Mate Roger was concerned. I felt a bit down, and didn’t even eat all my haylage and that had My Mate Roger really worried. He didn’t want to make a fuss, so he quietly withdrew me from one of my classes, saying that we wanted to focus on just the one. I don’t like to make a fuss either, or worry my fans, so I am only mentioning this so you understand why I didn’t do much at the show. I am sure that if I had been feeling myself I would have brought home lots of rosettes.

I was not feeling my best

I was not feeling my best

However we did enter the T1 Tolt class. In this class you show one round of slow tolt, change the rein and show fast tolt on the long sides of the oval track and slow on the short sides, and then one round to fast tolt. It’s a very demanding class, and I was competing with some of the top horses, and many of the riders and horses have been to the World Championships!

I put in a good performance, and although I didn’t initially qualify for the final I had only just missed out, so when another horse was withdrawn I was offered a place. My Mate Roger declined for me, he said I had done my bit, and was not on top form. In my excitement last year I went from Beginners level straight to Pro, I have done the T1 now and proved I can be a sports horse if I want to be, I have decided I am going to semi-retire and be a part time Sport horse as my real expertise is in rambling. At the next show I am going to enter the Intermediate classes as I haven’t done those yet.

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 240

One class was enough for me

 

I have done my bit and this show was Blondie’s turn to shine. He was entered in two classes, the Beginners Tolt and the Pairs class where you ride with another horse and show walk, trot, tolt and canter. Each horse gets a mark for each gait, and the best mark in each gait is used to score the pair overall.

Blondie qualified for the final in the Beginners Tolt holding the lead position, and then he rode in the pairs class. He and his partner horse won sixth place in the pairs and the Woman was very pleased with him, not because he showed all the gaits well, he didn’t.  He didn’t trot at all and he cantered on the wrong lead, but she was pleased with him because he behaved well on the track and didn’t get over excited, he tried to do as he was asked, and he did canter all the way round the track, instead of pacing when asked to canter which he sometimes does.  Blondie was really tired after the first day at the show.

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 209

The next day was finals day and Blondie had to improve his score, or at least stay the same to win. In previous shows he has always done less well on day two, but he is older and stronger now, and I had taught him all I could, it was all up to him…and he won! For the next show he will be in the Intermediate classes competing against me!

The next show is on the 16th and 17th May again in Verwood, Dorset. There will be lots of fabulous Icelandic horses on show, and of course I will be there with Blondie. Come along and visit us. Details of the show are here http://www.oakfield-icelandics.co.uk/

Here’s a tip, of you do come the last section of the road is a track with some potholes so take it slowly. Also just when you think you must have gone the wrong way, keep going – under a bridge and follow the track, as it just goes a little up hill and to the right you will see the sign for Oakfield Farm.

Some photos of those amazing Icelandic horses are below

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 134

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 298

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 506

Edda Hestar Easter Show 2015 509

Things to do when you have lost a shoe

This week Blondie lost a shoe so while I have been out this weekend going rambling for real, Blondie and the Woman have been playing games in the yard. It all looks very straight forward to me, but according to Blondie it’s harder than it looks.

The Woman started by setting up a little course, using things she found in and around the yard. We don’t have a school, and the only flattish field was too wet so she set up the course in the yard. First she let Blondie have a look at each of the obstacles in his own time and being a nosy horse this took quite a while. Then she introduced him to each task and each time he tried to do the right thing she gave him lots of praise, and even treats. When My Mate Roger and I were back from our ramble she had him all tacked up ready to show off what he had learned.

Walking Over An Old Rug

Walking Over An Old Rug

Well that looks easy enough, maybe he should try a mattress next time!

Figure of Eight

Figure of Eight

Next was a figure of eight around two buckets, a waste of good buckets if you ask me, they should be full of food!

Flag in the Face

Flag in the Face

Okay, I admit it did look a bit scary when the Woman waved a flag all over the place, but Blondie didn’t seem at all bothered, not even when she put it right over his head.

Into the Trailer

Into the Trailer

Out of the Trailer

Out of the Trailer

In and out of the trailer is no bother, we do that all the time. Okay, there are some potentially very scary plastic bags blowing around the place, but Svipur didn’t mind those either he just checked them out in case they had treats inside.

Getting Ready for the Side Pass

Getting Ready for the Side Pass

Side Pass Complete!

Side Pass Complete!

Now just a minute, those photos make it look like he did that straight off! Where are the ones in between of him making a mess of it?

Stand on board

Yes, very clever, even I could learn to stand on a wooden plank for a treat. How many treats did you get before you got it right golden boy!

The Golden Boy

The Golden Boy

A Celebrity Lifestyle Part 1 – It’s all about food.

I like this grass

It’s tough being famous, emotionally and physically draining, a fact that My Mate Roger does not seem to grasp. I work hard at keeping my stout round figure, as befits a hardy feisty horse of the Vikings, but I am constantly thwarted by his scheming. Once I even had to suffer the indignity of a ‘grazing muzzle’, and that’s an oxymoron as big as you have ever seen. These contraptions are in fact ‘anti-grazing’ devises, and even with my dexterous prehensile lips I had to work extra hard to snuffle up even a tiny amount of grass. It was not to be tolerated and I showed my displeasure by tossing my head and galloping around the field, but the humans did not relent. When the nasty thing began to rub my nose I appealed to the Woman, who is always more open to emotional blackmail than My Mate Roger, and it worked, briefly. After a day without the muzzle, spent eating as much as possible, it re-appeared with a hand-stitched fleecy lining! More concerted action was required.
I attacked the muzzle with my front hoof, which the humans had helpfully fitted with a metal shoe, and after two days the webbing finally gave way. With a shake of my head I was free. I stamped on it a few times, to make sure it wasn’t getting up and set about eating as much as possible before My Mate Roger returned.

Hay

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His next plan of attack was electric fencing, and this I admit has me stumped. I don’t like the stuff, having once got tangled up in it when I first arrived to live with My Mate Roger. He had arranged a nice little safe paddock from where I could be introduced to the other horses, Big Fat Cob and a big fat painted horse. Having spent a long time in the stable on wheels and not knowing where I was I thought a nice roll would sort me out, but I misjudged the fencing, got a sharp shock and when I tried to run away the fencing came with me, followed by two fat cobs and they didn’t look friendly. I kept running, and they kept chasing until My Mate Roger stepped in and stopped them , and the Woman cornered me and wrapped her arms around my neck to stop me running. I needed a treat after all that excitement and fortunately she had carrots.

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I did reach a truce with Big Fat Cob eventually, essentially by agreeing that he was in charge, and if there was any food going it was his. I have had to use all my Icelandic intellect, which is pretty awesome, to out-wit Big Fat Cob and get some of his share of the hay. Method number one, and not for the faint hearted, is to gradually edge closer and closer keeping a careful eye on his ears. If they flick back stop immediately and wait for him to relax. This is repeated until I am in optimum position, close enough to reach the hay with my front hoof, but not so close so as to provoke a full on lunge and snapping teeth. Next I reach out with my front hoof and scrape some hay towards me, out of snapping range, and then I reach down, extend my prehensile lips and eat the hay spaghetti style.
Method two is far more devious and depends on the relative differences between my intellect and that of Big Fat Cob, as well as the fact that Big Fat Cob is a spooky horse who thinks that horse eating dragons live all around, where as I know they do not exist. It’s very simple, whilst eating hay I spook suddenly and run away, taking Big Fat Cob with me. Once he is nicely on his toes a small spook is enough to send him far enough away to grab some of his hay, and if properly executed just a big flinch is enough. Devious eh?
All year I battle to keep my weight on, and all year My Mate Roger battles to keep it off. Even in winter I can put weight on, while the whole rest of the heard is slimming down. My Mate Roger is baffled, but I am full of tricks. I eat stuff that Big Fat Cob doesn’t even know is edible, I am first in the queue when there are any treats going, and hang about at places I know humans will appear at certain times, and if in doubt, in the absence of food, I conserve energy by doing absolutely nothing. I can do absolutely nothing for hours and hours.

resting

A National Champion – My Mate Roger!

A National Champion – My Mate Roger!

My Mate Roger has made it onto the first Icelandic Horse Society of Great Britain Rankings as a winner in 2014!

MMR said ‘I can’t take credit for this alone, behind every riding achievement is a great horse’. Well I am sure this is what he would have said if I had asked him.

The Woman also had some glory in the elementary tölt rankings. The rankings are a new development for the IHSGB.

http://ihsgb.co.uk/2015/02/new-gb-ranking-congratulations-to-the-2014-winners/

The Show Season Approaches

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Wish me luck, and maybe I will see you there.

Icelandic Horse events in the UK http://ihsgb.co.uk/news-events/events-calendar/

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.