Wow! I thought this page would be quite easy to write. But, the more I sit here and think about it, the more I realize there is for a potential Icelandic horse buyer to think about. I've never been in this position!! When I was a kid and got my first POA, it didn't matter to me what he was like, I just felt lucky to get him. It's different now. We have LOTS of horses and whenever I want to ride one, I just go out to the barn or field, get the one that will suit my needs, saddle it up and go! I use our horses for a lot of different things. Sometimes, I want to take friends out for a short ride, so I get them easy going, mellow horses. Sometimes, I want to go for a long trail ride, so I get myself a horse that is not timid and has a good, smooth tolt. Sometimes, I am going to a horse show, so I get a flashy horse that has good all around gaits. Sometimes, I want to go exploring and am not sure what will happen, so I want a horse that will/has bonded with only me, so that if something unimaginable happens, it will stay near me, and look after me, if it comes to that. Virgil fra Kjarnholtum is a horse like that, one time, I was putting a halter on a horse that was in the same stall (BIG stall) as Virgil. Another horse menacingly (is that a word?) tried to stick his nose near me over the stall fence, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Virgil rear up towards that horse. It was like he was saying, "Don't mess with him, or you'll have to mess with me!" Virgil's really cool, I like him a lot. I don't want to write a book here, so I guess what I'm saying is that if I had to pick only a horse or two for the duration, I'd have a hard time doing it. But if I had to, here's what I'd think about....
I guess the first thing would be,"Why am I buying this horse?" What do you want to do most with this horse? Do you want to trail ride? Show? Breed? Drive a carriage, cart or sleigh? Will it be for your son/daughter for use in a pony/4H club, and to grow up with? Or, as I've seen in some cases, will it just be a big pet? Here's the answer I really like... "E" - All of the above.
Now that you've answered the question of "why?", you can more easily answer the question, "Do I want a 4 gaited Icelandic, or one that possesses all 5 gaits?" It's nice to say your horse is 5 gaited, but will you ever ride the "pace?" I'll say this about it... It's an exhilarating full blown adrenaline rush!! To be "one" with an explosively driven Icelandic at high speeds, in the legendary "flying pace" is an experience like no other. Just thinking about it as I write this gets the adrenalin going! I guess this goes along with the "why" question. Generally, a 4 gaited horse has an easier time maintaining a clean tolt.
Then I guess I'd ask myself, "What kind of disposition/temperament do I want my horse to have?" Do you want a really mellow horse anyone can ride, or one that's a bit more challenging? Icelandics come with a very wide variety of temperaments, from the horse that wants to be leader all the way to the horse that feels more comfortable being the follower. From the very curious and attentive, to the horse that just doesn't give a hoot, and everywhere in between. There are way too many facets of the personality traits of Icelandics to go into here. But, if you can narrow down the stronger traits that you want, it'll be easier to select a horse once you visit a farm. I know I have not given you many specific traits to work from, so use your imagination. Try this... Think about your best "human" friend. What do you like about that person? Do you like them because they're curious? Because they're outspoken? Because they're shy? Because they're active? Because they like to go out and do things? Because they're driven, or because they're really easy going? I think you get the idea...
This has narrowed it down some, now lets make the cut...no gelding pun intended, hehe. Only a serious breeder needs to think about getting and keeping a stallion. So the question is, "Do I want a gelding, or a mare?" This also goes with the "why" question. Actually, ALL these questions go together, it's hard to answer one of them without going into another one. Geldings tend to be more mellowed than mares, hmmm... can't imagine why! If someday, you would like to hear the pitter patter of little foal hoofs running around the pasture, then a high quality mare is what you'd want. Of course, you can get a mare not because you want to breed it, but just because it's the horse that fits you.
Which brings me to my next thought... "What's high quality, and does it matter to me?" Yes, it does matter. In Iceland, the environment along with the Icelander's way of life ensure that low quality horses do not propagate, well, for the most part. Also, Iceland has an intensive and extensive scoring system, which was started many generations back. We in the USA are working on something similar, so that we can ensure very high quality domestic bloodlines. This page will start you off on the very basics.
Ready for more yet? "How young or old and how well trained of a horse do I want?" Do you want a fully trained "turn key" horse that you can just get on and start riding? Do you want a "started" horse that you can "finish?" Or, do you want a weanling, that you can securely bond with over the years before starting it's training? If you get a "trained" horse, pay careful attention to how it's been trained. A correct tolt, or any forward propulsion comes from the rear of the horse. Collection is all about "engaging" the horses rear end. A correctly collected horse uses it's front legs primarily for just enough support so that it doesn't fall on it's nose, while it uses it's hind legs to support more body weight and for almost all forward propulsion.You don't "pull the horse's head up" with the reins to collect a horse, you "PUSH" the horse into collection using the correct amount of rein contact. Want to know more? Come to one of our "From 2 to 1" training clinics.
Icelandics possess a very wide variety of traits and characteristics that make them "Icelandics," I guess that's why it's hard to own just one. There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before settling on just a horse or two. Imagine, all this thinking and you haven't even visited a farm yet! Speaking of which...What about the farm? Well, if you're going to ask me, you probably know what the answer will be. Up to this point, we've just been defining our "dream horse." Now comes the fun part! Finding it.
Karen Brotzman, Alfasaga Farms, 214
Centerville, Wa. 98613 Phone (509) 773-4383 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org