Icelandic Horse Connection

Eir, Starting an Icelandic Horse

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 greeting.

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 in relaxation.

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.

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