Icelandic Horse Connection

Icelandic Horse Evaluations

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Are Icelandic Horse Evaluations useful? correct? informative? valuable? valid?

Because of the many different outside influences that impact the scores, many of which are not heritable traits, the evaluations may not be that valid to be of benefit breeding programs or picking breeding stock.

Here are some of the influences on the horse:

[] Heavier shoes (influence the stride and lift, mechanical / artificial gait aid)

[] Bell boots (influence the stride and lift, mechanical / artificial gait aid)

[] Nosebands (inhibit breathing, influence the tension throughout the horse)

[] Heavy contact (force a frame onto the horse)

[] Girth placement (compressing the ribs)

[] Ill-fitting saddles (impact the frame of the horse)

[] Placement of saddles (too far back, onto the loins)

[] Poor seat by the rider (too far back, onto the weakest part of the back

[] Use of whips (adding tension)

All of these things can and *do* mask the raw baseline data that we *should* be looking for in evaluations!

Other problem areas:

[] Chair seat for gait

[] Bouncing on the horse's back in trot

[] Behind the vertical

[] The "lunge and surge" canter (caused by rider interference)

[] Rider balancing his weight on the horse's mouth

[] Tight Nosebands; illegal use of nosebands

[] Speed valued over finesse

[] Rough riding ignored (i.e. yank, yank, yanking on the horse's mouth)

The more skilled a rider is, the less equipment he will need.

A quote from the FEIF rules: "The following nosebands may be used: With all snaffle bits: English Cavesson, American, combined (flash), Mexican (Grackle), Hannoverian (Drop), Leveller noseband. With Pelham and Icelandic curb bits: English Cavesson or American noseband."

Why in the world do they include the most severe nosebands?!?!

Heck, it's a PONY! Shouldn't it be able to be ridden without heavier shoes, weighted bell boots, tight and / or severe nosebands (what kind of rider *needs* that type of control on a pony?!?!), saddles that force a horse into a ventroflexed frame, banging on the horse's back in trot (can't sit the trot? can't post?), etc.

What's the problem that the riders can not get gait on these ponies *naturally*? without heavier shoes, without bell boots, without the Dig & Pinch saddles, without the tight nosebands, without their weight on the horse's mouth, without sitting on the horse's loins, without whips?

The value (weight, score) of traits:

In the riding section, tolt has a weight factor of 15, pace: 9, trot: 7.5, and gallop: 4.5. Walk is only given a 1.5, and slow tolt and canter are given 0.

Walk only 1.5?

About conformation scores: Shouldn't the higher value be placed on conformation as it related to soundness, performance, especially in traits that might be inheritable? Color, manes, nice ears, pretty heads, etc. don't affect the soundness of future generations.

It appears, in breeding evaluations, that most of the emphasis is on the performance of individual horses, regardless of their conformation. Breeding evaluations should be first and foremost about breeding for good conformation to protect the future generations. One of our subscribers said: "You often see horses that look like compilations of used body parts."

Another subscriber said: "A horse with poor conformation may be able to perform well. But he may a "time bomb" for passing on faults that might not recombine so luckily in next generations."

The conformation guidelines call for straight legs.... but the resultant conformation of the horse does not indicate that evaluations are having a positive impact on good leg conformation.

If the evaluations were working, wouldn't we see more good legs on Icelandic Horses, and not what we are seeing now?

Would there be so many horses to cull if the evaluations were valid?

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