Eir's coming along real well with the sidepull-type halter. I like Robyn Hood's
idea of starting them with a sidepull. Less tension on them, I think, and
you don't have to worry about whether the bit fits or accidently causes them
some problem that might lead to a long-term issue.
We have read before about horses not being able to relax in other
parts of the body if there's tension in the tongue. I suppose it doesn't
work on all horses, and sometimes trainers want a certain amount of tension,
but I don't :-)
After a few months off, Eir started her riding lessons again yesterday. Eir
is a 16 year old unstarted (prior to the recent lessons) domestic mare, only
being haltered a few times in her life, living with a large herd, minimal
human contact. She only has about 10 or 12 hours total on her, and we
wondered how she would respond to riding again. Would she be frisky (it was
a brisk day, a little windy)? resistant? a handful? or "ho-hum".
When we arrived, she nickered to the other horses that she knew, a friendly
We switched from the web halter, to the rope halter and went into the arena
with several other horses. No problems standing for mounting. No problems
standing still and waiting for the rider's next cues. She appeared totally
relaxed; that's good, that's what we're going for.
Then for some time walking.
Walking is important to a newly started horse. It helps them build their
strength to carry a rider. It helps to build confidence, helps with
relaxation. Asking nothing more than to carry the rider at a walk also aids
Editorial note: Caution, this is not how Icelandic Horses are usually started. We are aiming for a quiet, calm horse.
Harry Whitney is quoted as saying: "So they're started, so they go."
After several months of walk / trot riding, the young gal asked for gait by tipping her pelvis and raising her hands a little. Note the finger light touch on the reins.