Tag Archives: Icelandic Horses

My equestrian weekend

I wanted to upload a picture, but I’m having connection problems tonight, and anyway I didn’t take any photos this weekend that were much better than pedestrian (and you can’t have pedestrian at a horse show). The perfect thing would have been to get someone to snap me with an Icelandic horse, wearing my Viking gear, but that obvious idea never occurred to me at the time.

Anyway, it was a good weekend. In fact, although there were difficult parts, I’d say it was the best time I’ve had in a couple years. The first fling of my freedom, you might say, if you were in alliterative mood.

I’d been to the Minnesota Horse Expo at the state fairgrounds once before, years back. At that point, we were able to get a parking spot in the lot even though we weren’t bright and early. This year, although the horse barns and Coliseum are at the west end of the park, I had to park back near the east entrance. It’s gotten to be a big deal. There was no handicapped parking section. It was a long trek from my parking spot for someone with a recent hip replacement, but I made it, and I wasn’t even terribly stiff the next day. Continue reading My equestrian weekend

Norse horse

Icelandic horses at the beginning of summer. Photo credit: Guillame Calas. Creative Commons license.

Fair warning: There won’t be a post on Friday. I have faith in you; somehow you’ll endure.

I’ll be playing Viking at an odd venue on Friday and through the weekend, the Minnesota Horse Expo at the state fairgrounds in St. Paul. The Viking Age Club & Society has been asked to provide context for the Icelandic horse exhibit this year. There will even be fight shows in the arena, though sadly the fighters will be old guys (not me; I’m still not up to that), as our young Vikings aren’t available. In real life, the Vikings would have probably had the stallions themselves fight, using goads on them. It was the Vikings’ favorite sport.

Things I’ve learned about Icelandic horses, mostly through internet research:

• It’s illegal to import any horse into Iceland, even an Icelandic horse. Once an Icelandic horse leaves the island, it must stay away forever. They’re afraid of bringing in exotic diseases or parasites.

• Icelandic horses have two extra gaits, which other horses can’t do (and only some Icelandics can do). One is called the tölt, a “four-beat lateral ambling gait” said to be “comfortable and ground-covering.” The other is the skeið, the “flying pace,” “fast and smooth” according to Wikipedia, a “two-beat lateral gait.” (Skeið was also the name of a kind of Viking ship; Erling Skjalgsson owned one of those.)

• Breeders of Icelandic horses consider them the purest of the northern breeds.

Author and artist William Morris (1834-1896) made a tour of Iceland with friends in 1871, producing a journal which I consulted (through a kind loan by Dale Nelson) in my research for West Oversea. He grew very fond of the horse he rode on that tour, and planned to bring it home with him. However it went lame before embarkation, so he took another horse instead. It lived to a good old age and grew very fat on his estate in England.

I shall tell you more about Icelandic horses next week.