Fleygurs' musings, Little Viking Horse Blog

The Spring Show approaches

It is less than a week to the Spring Show, and My Mate Roger and I are in hard training. Well, we have been for a few rambles, but there is more tölting involved, so it feels harder to me!  Apparently My Mate Roger has the week off, so we are going to be doing some real training this week. I think I am going to need to be very fit, considering all the things My Mate Roger is expecting me to do! Take a look at my schedule

Friday 11am
Group Ride from Oakfield Farm (be ready to leave at 11am) – small amount of road work, plus woods, bridleways and open heathland. Stop at the pub for lunch (there’s a field for the horses too). No charge but bring cash for lunch/drinks.

Saturday 4pm – Spring Fling Classes
Open to all horses and riders. Children, novices or those of a nervous disposition may be on a lead rein. £3.50 per class, or £15 for the whole lot. Helpers very welcome please.
Fancy Dress (Theme – songs and singers)
Handy Pony
Drunken Bending Race
Bean Bag Race
Dressing Up Race
Walk, Trot/ Tölt Race
Piggy Pace Race

Sunday 9am – Oval Track Classes
Sport A Classes – Open to any rider, horses must be born in or before 2009.
Tölt*  T1 –Riders compete individually. 1. Begin at the middle of the short side and ride one round in slow tölt on either rein. Return to walk at the middle of the short side and change rein. 2. From the middle of the short side ride one round in slow tölt, lengthen stride distinctly on the long sides. 3. From the middle of the short side ride one round in fast tölt.
Happy Hackers Classes – Open to any horse. Rider not to have been placed in the finals of any Sport A Class in the preceding 5 years. Children, novices and nervous riders may be on a lead rein. Special awards for the best youngster in each class.
Happy Hackers classes cost £10 per class

Happy Hackers Tölt  – The test is ridden in groups of up to three riders on the oval track, instructed by the speaker. Sections: 1. any speed tölt. Return to walk and change rein. 2. slow to medium speed tölt. The rhythm of the tolt and the harmony between horse and rider will be judged. Flashy action from the horse will not increase the marks.

Happy Hackers 4-Gait – The test is ridden in groups of up to three riders on the oval track, instructed by the speaker. The horses show the four gaits as instructed by the speaker. They ride on the rein as set in the starting list. Sections: 1. any speed tölt 2. slow to medium speed trot 3. medium walk 4. slow to medium speed canter. The rhythm of the gaits and the harmony between horse and rider will be judged. Flashy action from the horse will not increase the marks.

* Tölt is a 4-beat lateral gait, where the footfalls are the same as in walk – left hind – left front – right hind – right front, in an even rhythm. Although this is a gait which can be performed at all speeds (from a fast walking speed through to canter speed) there is no moment of suspension as there is always at least one foot in contact with the ground. This makes the tölt very smooth and comfortable for the rider. For more information on gaits visit the Icelandic Horse Society of GB web site here

My Fancy dress costume for the Spring Fling is Top Secret. Then, on the Monday, there is something strange called the “Beer tölt “. I think that involves, the riders trying not to spill any beer while riding one handed, and the horses getting wet!

Blondie is also entering the Spring Fling, and the Happy Hackers Tölt, but then he is doing something called the Happy Hackers Loose Rein Tölt

Happy Hackers Loose Rein Tölt – All horses on the track at the same time, well spaced out. Show a slow to medium speed tolt holding the reins in one hand, with little to no contact and as few corrections as possible. The rhythm of the tolt and the harmony between horse and rider will be judged. Flashy action from the horse will not increase the marks.


I can’t do that. My Mate Roger is trying to teach me to be go well with less contact from the rein, but I can’t really get the hang of it. Blondie is so smug when he tölts along the road, with the Woman just holding the end of the rein in one hand. He does lose it eventually though, going faster and faster. I am not sure he is up to competition standard, though he seems to think he will get marks just for looking cute!

Finally Fleygur Fans. All Fans (as defined by those who have liked my Facebook page) who turn up to the show to visit me, can be entered in a special prize draw for one of my Polo Shirts. Looking forward to seeing you there, but if you can’t make it there will be daily updates on Facebook and Twitter (if a signal is available) and full report to follow on this blog.

Full Show Programme and details are here on the Solva Icelandic Horses website.



Fleygurs' musings, Little Viking Horse Blog

A Remarkable Recovery

Three weeks before the U.K.s first Tolt in Harmony Competition, I had a little mishap with my shoe (you can read about it here). My Mate Roger was not at all sure that I was going to be able to take part after all. We had been preparing for weeks. Not by practicing the pattern you have to ride, because we don’t have a school, or even a flat piece of ground to practice on, but there is a lot you can do while out rambling. We practiced speed changes, and stopping; and we did lots of walking sideways, or ‘three-tracking’.

The incident with the shoe seemed to have put a stop to my competition aspiration, and Fleygur Fans on Facebook, from all over the world, sent me best wishes, and crossed their fingers, hooves or paws for me. Initially, I got better quickly and hopes were raised, but then, just as the Vet had predicted, I got worse again. My Mate Roger, and the Woman soaked my foot in hot salty water, twice a day, and poulticed my foot, until no more puss came out. Then it was wrapped in a dry dressing. When I was able to walk without limping, My Mate Roger called the Shoe Man. The Shoe Man said, “I wouldn’t be much of a farrier, if I couldn’t straighten out that shoe”, and he popped it back on. He said my foot had healed well, but if there was any problem, My Mate Roger should call him straight away.

"I wouldn't be much of a farrier...."
“I wouldn’t be much of a farrier….”


A straight shoe
A straight shoe


So, now I was ready to compete, though the combination of having been out of work for three weeks, and the fresh spring grass, meant that I was a little feisty! My Mate Roger was a bit apprehensive. I have only done one competition before, and I didn’t exactly cover myself in glory. I went like a bat out of hell round the oval track, with My Mate Roger trying to stay in control, and screamed for My Mare Gydja the whole way round. This time, Blondie was coming with me, and we set off in the Stable on Wheels for an overnight stay near to the competition venue. We had a little paddock to ourselves, with a cute grey Welsh pony next door. The TB and the Arab opposite were a bit less polite, and galloped at the fence, with ears back. Blondie stood his ground, and just stared back, and eventually I got fed up too, and snorted at them. These Big Horses do get in a paddy sometimes. Anyway, there were two post and rail fences between us, so they just had to get over it.

Temporary accommodation, you can't always choose your neighbours.
Temporary accommodation, you can’t always choose your neighbours.

The next morning we were off again, early, for a short trip to Home Farm Equestrian, for the competition itself. Lots of other Icelandic horses arrived, and we all got ready for the practice round. The humans all had a briefing from the judge, and there were lots of questions. Apparently, none of them had done this before. We had a practice go, with feedback from the judge. It all seemed very relaxed, but Blondie managed to get the same score as me, so I was going to up my game for the competition itself. Blondie, and the Woman, are novices compared to us, so I couldn’t let My Mate Roger down. In the practice run, I did scream a bit, because I needed to know the other horses were still there. I couldn’t do that in round two.

A briefing from the Judge
A briefing from the Judge
Blondie heading off to the school
Blondie heading off to the school
LVH in action
LVH in action
Me being awesome
Me being awesome









After feed back from the judges and a rest, it was time for round two, the competition itself.

Blondie getting feedback
Blondie getting feedback
Me, giving feedback
Me, giving feedback

My Mate Roger and I went before Blondie, and I think I did pretty well. O.K, I did have a little disagreement with My Mate Roger at one point, and I confess, there is room for improvement! You can watch me on YouTube

I didn’t scream, at all this time, and Blondie did okay too, for his first time out, but obviously not as awesome as me. You can watch Blondie on YouTube too, and see for yourself.


Then it was time for the prizes. Blondie got seventh place, and I got fourth. My Mate Roger was very pleased, we had both done better than he had expected.

My Mate Roger was pleased
My Mate Roger was pleased












I have the feeling we will be doing more of the Tolt in Harmony. My Mate Roger and the Woman seemed to enjoy themselves, and the other Iceys, and their humans are a friendly herd. Next time though, I am going to keep my eye on the winner. My Mate Roger says, if I can calm down a bit, I might even be a s good as this. I still think I am awesome.

The  winner
The winner
Fleygurs' musings, Little Viking Horse Blog

No foot, no horse…..no competition?

The big question in My Mate Rogers’ mind is, ‘will I, or won’t I be fit in time for the Tölt in Harmony competition?’ We had begun our training, practicing slowing down, and speeding up in walk, and tölt. I am especially good at the fast bits. I was getting fitter, and My Mate Roger was pleased with my progress. We have a lot to prove, after my performance at lasts years British Icelandic Horse Championships.

Then, last Sunday, I had a mishap with one of my shoes. The shoes had recently been fitted by the Shoe Man, so were nice and solid.  I was with the herd, in the bottom corner of the field, when we started to move off. One of my feet wouldn’t move. Something had caught on my shoe. I pulled and pulled, and being very strong I managed to get free, but there was a cost. I felt a sharp pain in my foot, and as I tried to run away, I found I couldn’t put my foot down flat. I limped a few paces and stopped, waiting to be rescued.

The Woman arrived in the field first, with a friend, all kitted up and ready to ride. When she saw me in the far corner of the field, holding my leg off the ground, she must have thought I had broken it, she looked very concerned, but when she saw my shoe, she could see the problem. My Mate Roger arrived and took my shoe off.

Twisted shoe

Finally, I could put my foot to the ground, but I still didn’t feel good, and didn’t really want to move. I could hardly walk, and was very subdued. The Vet was called, and the Woman, her friend, and My Mate Roger waited in the field with me. Blondie came over to see me, but I did not feel like playing.

Blondie says 'hi'
I don’t want to play, Blondie

The vet found where the nails from the shoe had punctured the sole of my foot, and said it would certainly get infected. He said I would get worse, before I got better. and gave me an injection for the pain. I had to stand in a bucket of hot, salty water. I took my foot out the first time, but My Mate Roger put it back in, and gave me a treat, so I got the idea, and kept it in until I was asked to lift it again. Then he wrapped my foot with a dressing, vet-wrap, and duck tape! My Mate Roger is a human nurse, so he knew what to do.

The first poultice
Dressing and vet-wrap applied
Standing in bucket of hot, salty water
Standing in bucket of hot, salty water
Where the nails punctured the sole
Where the nails punctured the sole


This procedure was repeated twice a day over the next few days, so I became very expert at it. Stand with foot in hot water…….get a treat. Stand with foot up for poultice to be put on,…..get a treat. Look sorry for myself, and hobble in a little circle…….get a treat. I got so expert at this, that I didn’t really need to be held, or even have a halter on. There was some debate about whether, or not I should go in a stable. The neighbours offered to lend me one. Lots of my Fleygur Fans on Facebook gave their views and advice, but eventually it was decided that I could stay out. That way I was in my usual place, with my herd, and could move around if I wanted to, keeping fit and helping to pump the nasty pus out of my foot.

I know the routine
I know the routine

After a couple of days I felt a lot better, and My Mate Roger stopped giving the magic powder in my feed. In fact, I didn’t get any feed at all, just hay. The next day I got a lot worse, and could hardly put my foot down, and that evening I got another feed! The vet came again, and said I was doing really well, and that I should make a good recovery, and then I got spotted, by the Woman, playing with Blondie. She claims she saw me cantering, and bucking! Where is the evidence? I think I should still get feeds (with or without the magic powder) but somehow I think that may not happen.

Where is the evidence that I have been running about?
Where is the evidence that I have been running about?

So, I am on the road to recovery, but it is just fifteen days until the Tölt in Harmony Competition. Will I be able to go?


Fleygurs' musings, Little Viking Horse Blog

Breaking News….Talking Icelandic Horse in the 2014 Equine Social Media Awards!


Yes, it is true Fleygur Fans, I have made it to the finals of the prestigious Equine Social Media Awards, but it is all to play for. The Talking Horse category has many formidable opponents including, The Fat Pony, who is very, very naughty; and Binky the Clydesdale, who is very, very big. I need all the votes I can get.

My mission is to promote the Icelandic Horse. The horses of the Vikings, tough, hardy, spirited but gentle, and very very clever (well, I am anyway).

So get voting, and spread the joy of Icelandic horses…..http://www.equestriansocialmediaawards.com/finalists-esmaP1020900_2376_edited-1

Little Viking Horse Blog, The Womans' Writing

A Grand Expedition to Wales

Last September the whole Little Viking Horse herd decamped, and went on a Grand Expedition to Wales. It was not my first time, I am quite famous in Wales already, but it was the first time we all went together. In these dark and damp winter days, Fleygur Fans might enjoy reading about it. Here is what the Woman wrote…..

“One of the things we love to do with our horses is “ramble”. A quick brush, check feet, tack up and head out. Our Icelandic horses are perfect for this. Easy to manage on the ground, easy to get on and off, sure footed and hardy.

One of the other things I love is the Gower peninsular, in South Wales. This is the place where I have spent most of my holidays since I was three years old. As I child I would practice my ‘horse whispering’, with the semi feral mountain ponies on the commons, and ache with envy when I saw someone riding a horse along the beach.

Wild Ponies on Gower
Wild Ponies on Gower

Finally, aged 40 something I met the love of my life, Roger, and bought my first horse, a Welsh Cob called Beanie. Roger and I now have four horses, Beanie, and three Icelandic’s – Fleygur, Svipur and Gydja. So, now I get to combine all the things I love, as we take our horses on holiday with us to Llangennith, on Gower, each year.

Just over a mile from our caravan is Tankey Lake Livery. It’s a friendly, lively yard where nothing is too much trouble for Sharon, who runs the place, and we, and our horses now see this as our second home. From the yard you can ride directly onto Llanmadoc Hill, without touching a road. Even if that was all there was, that would satisfy a weeks riding, while you weave your way around the various tracks, and make the obligatory stops at the Britannia Inn (which does great food), and Llanmadoc village shop/cafe for tea and cakes – but, that is not all there is. There are another four commons, with equally great views, and route options, all within easy riding distance and with minimal road work. Then of course there are beaches.

Fleygur and Roger on Llanmadoc HillSvipur and Catherine on Rhossili Bay

This year we took all four horses with us for the first time. The older horses quickly recognised where they were, and knew immediately which path to ‘suggest’ as the quickest way back to the yard, but for Svipur this was his first time to Gower. He is young, and has only been with us for few months, so we were not sure how he would respond. He was a star, and a real ambassador for the breed. Apart from being admired for his looks, he took it all in his stride and was a pleasure to ride. Even on his first trip to the beach he didn’t put a foot wrong. I wanted to use the opportunity of the beach ride to get a good canter or gallop from him, as he still favours pace when ever he can, and he was great. Leading the gallop and streaking away from Beanie, and Sharon’s cob, Keano – I was, once again living my childhood dream. For a moment Roger thought that I had lost control, as we galloped on when the others pulled up – but Svipur and I were just having too much fun! As soon as I asked, he slowed , and then stopped, and then walked as calmly as he had before the gallop.

Gydja and Catherine on Rhossili Down

Gydja enjoying the view

Of course Wales, like Iceland has changeable weather, but even knowing this, I foolishly set out for a ride one day without any waterproofs. We had just made it onto the second common when, glancing over my shoulder, I saw the rain approaching. We turned for home, and our usual gentle rambling was abandoned in favour of some fast tolting, trotting and gallops, as we tried to out run the weather. We almost made it, reaching the paths above Tankey Lake yard just as the rain started. I wanted to take the lower, more sheltered path, but Roger didn’t want to snag his new Top Reiter trousers on the brambles! So we separated. No problem for Gydja, she gave a little nicker as they left, and then settled. Fleygur, on the other hand, objected and we could hear him screaming from the hill, as Roger led him up to the higher path. On the top of the hill, despite doing a good impression of a really wound up horse, he stood stationary and quiet, on command, for Roger to mount; resuming his calling only once they were underway again. One minute we could hear him some where behind, and above us, and the next, they were way in front. We trotted up to join them, and it was apparent that Roger had enjoyed an exhilarating gallop through the driving rain and wind on the top.

Galloping is not the norm for us however, and our riding would probably be considered sedate by many. It is our habit to ride for a while, and then get off and lead, particularly up the hills; we ride for about fifty minutes and then walk for about ten minutes. As we do not have the option of riding Icelandic style, with a herd of spare horses, this enables us to be out for a number of hours with just two, helps to keep us fit, and builds the bond with our horses. One of these quiet rambles, with Fleygur and Gydja, took us directly from the yard over Llanmadoc Hill, and then, Ryer’s Down. After a lovely canter along the grassy tops, we dismounted for a steep drop into a pretty valley, and a meander along a secluded, tree lined path. The quietness of this route, away from any sounds of traffic, added to the feeling of going back in time, as a further decent on a stony path brought us to a small stone bridge, known locally as the Roman Bridge.

Gydja and Catherine near the Roman BridgeNew friends for Little Viking Horse

We have sometimes stopped at this tranquil spot for a lunch break, but this day we climbed on up the stony tack the other side, emerging into a small clearing, and one of those cottages that starts you thinking, “If I won the lottery….” The couple living there admired the horses, and after we had waxed lyrical about the unique qualities of Icelandic horses for a while, Jonathon and Kath offered us a cup of tea, and the horses a small patch of grass (which they leave un-cut for the wild horses that roam Gower, to graze). We un-tacked and let the horses loose, Roger having finally persuaded me that the grass would be sufficient incentive to keep them close by. Gydja dutifully munched on the grass offered, but Fleygur persistently grazed his was toward the herb garden, and had to be retrieved several times. It was great to make friends with some more of the local people, and as we rode on Fleygur had also secured another fan for his Little Viking Horse blog.

Gydja, Catherine, Fleygur and Roger at Rhossili

Gower is a truly beautiful place to ride, and I love it what ever the weather. (There is never bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!). This year, despite some very windy and wet days, we also enjoyed some great weather and fantastic riding and we will be back again next year .

If anyone fancies planning their own trip to Gower we would be happy to share details of our favourite rides, and introduce you to Sharon at Tankey Lake Livery. As well as the campsite, there are Bed and Breakfasts in the village, and self catering cottages at the Livery.” Places to stay.

Friends walking into the sunset