Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Muscle for Icelandic Horse Gait

How much pressure on the reins... how much muscle... how many pounds of pull... how much weight... on the reins, does it take to make the Icelandic Horse gait?

How did it ever get to this point, where the riders use such severe bits (jointed mouthpiece with long shanks), combined with tight nosebands, and strong contact to get the Icelandic Horse to gait??

Isn't the goal of "horsemanship" to be as light as possible, with as little as possible?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Developing An Independent Seat

Developing an Independent Seat
by Faith Meredith
Director, Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre

Developing an independent seat is absolutely essential if a rider aspires to the upper levels of any equestrian sport. An independent seat is wonderful to have, beautiful to see, but difficult to describe in words. A rider with an independent seat can move each body part independently. Each part of his or body is flexible enough and strong enough to do its job without any compensation in another part. He or she can balance perfectly over the horse’s center of gravity at any gait without any hint of gripping or tilting. She can shift her pelvis to half halt without tensing her shoulders or falling behind the vertical. He can shift his weight on his inside seat bone and bring his shoulder back to ask for a spin without collapsing a hip or grabbing with his legs.

An independent seat starts on the ground. If riders cannot independently control their body parts before getting in the saddle, there is not going to be a sudden transformation when their feet are in the stirrups. A rider whose balance on the ground is a bit shaky or who is physically unfit will not be able to achieve a completely independent seat once mounted. Activities that help develop both strength and balance such as skating, skiing, yoga, dance or martial arts can help riders cross train to achieve an independent seat for riding. Mounted riders can work without stirrups or reins on a longe line or in a jumping lane to achieve balance without gripping. The more control a rider develops over his or her own body movements, the more precisely he or she will be able to use body language to communicate with a horse whether on the ground or from the saddle.

Relaxation is absolutely key to development of an independent seat and relaxation, too, starts on the ground. Meredith Manor’s “heeding” system of groundwork teaches students to move with relaxation and rhythm so that their horses will move that way, too. Students learn that their body language communicates a huge vocabulary of nuances to their horses. This attitude of rhythm and relaxation and the understanding that even small movements can create huge responses in the horse also figure in the development of an independent seat when they carry them over from handling the horse from the ground to working with it under saddle. Starting out on reliable schoolmasters can help more timid riders relax as they develop balance and other skills on their way to achieving an independent seat.

The rider who is gripping with her thighs and knees and whose heels angle downward from a locked ankle may look like she has good form. She may even win ribbons. However, her stiff form blocks full communication with her horse. Her aids will be like cell phone static. They may be garbled. Worse still, the batteries may go dead and communication may stop altogether because the horse starts to ignore her constant aid pressures.

The rider with an independent seat is completely relaxed yet able to use any muscle independently of any other muscle at any time in order to use that muscle as an aid pressure whenever she wants. Her ankles, knees, hips, and elbows are relaxed, flexible, and soft. Her head and shoulders are loose, nodding almost imperceptibly at the top of her spinal column in rhythm to the horse’s gaits. There is no unproductive tension anywhere in her body. She is able to communicate with her horse with great nuance.

There is a mechanical level of understanding of horse communication that tells us what combinations of aids communicate what patterns to the horse when we ride. Riders need to comprehend this mechanical language but they also need to understand that it is like speaking only to their horses in the present tense. Communication may be clear but limited.

Developing an independent seat is like developing an understanding of more sophisticated verb forms. Now the rider can talk to the horse in the present tense, future tense, future perfect and so on. They can fine tune their performance by small degrees. Muscle memory develops over time so that the rider no longer even thinks about each mechanical aid sequence every time he or she asks the horse for a particular maneuver. Now they communicate so effortlessly that they appear to be of one mind. Both horse and rider have reached a level of athleticism that is a beautiful thing to see. This should be the ultimate goal of every serious rider.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Icelandic Horse Head

How about "embroidering" an Icelandic Horse head on your shirt or jacket, with brads, sequins, or gemstones?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Drawings of Charm, Icelandic Horse

Hayley drew a couple of pictures of Charm, Icelandic Horse. She is a good artist and did it within a few minutes!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Thank you to all of the veterans who have served our country!

From the Icelandic Horse Connection

Home of the Brave

Through the feel of war they brave this day
How proud they stand, their unselfish way

Our soldiers bear what we cannot see
They assure our right to live life free

Each trained will face an unknown fate
Our support they need, don’t hesitate

Just imagine how this land would be
Without their courage - catastrophe

All the liberties we have grown to know
Would not exist, this life would go

Find a thankfulness within your mind
Speak gratitude for our bravest kind

Have the willingness to show you care
For fallen heroes, hold back no tear

Reach out to God with his guiding light
For our troops do pray, both day and night

America raise your flags to wave
For we truly are 'home of the brave'

©2003Roger J. Robicheau

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Snow in Alaska

Misty, in Alaska, and her Icelandic Horses, have snow as of October 12.

Friday, October 17, 2008

PNH Live Your Dream

Do you want a relationship with your horse?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Trail Ride

My Icelandic Horse on a trail ride:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Riding Icelandic Horse in Rope Halter

Here is Lorraine, riding Cookie, Icelandic Horse mare, in a rope halter. It has rings on the side for the reins.

Icelandic Horse Saddle Fit

Here are some great links for saddle fit:


Bits for Horses

Here is a good set of educational videos with information, descriptions, and mechanics of horse bits.

We don't necessarily agree with using bits, in place of good horsemanship and good training, to control horses.

If you find yourself escalating to higher control-type bits, the horse may need more / better training.

How Horse Bits & Bridles Work

Bitless Bridles

Snaffle Horse Bits

O-Ring Snaffle Horse Bits

D-Ring Snaffle Horse Bits

Snaffle Horse Bits With Leverage

Combination Horse Bits

Shank Snaffle Horse Bits

Shank Snaffle Horse Bits With a Roller

Elevator Horse Bit

Performance Leverage Horse Bits

Friday, August 29, 2008

Youtube Icelandic Horses

I am trying to get 1000 subscribers on my youtube page!

Please help me reach my goal by subscribing to:

Just go to that page and click onto the "subscribe" button.