Buying Horses for Americans
Judy Morton, of far northern
story of the gathering of horses on a previous post of yours.
So, could you please fill us in, as to what horse did you end up
buying and what is he/she like. Is there another Icelandic saga here?> >
Well yes, I have some sagas but my sagas are not nearly so interesting as the real sagas. Sagas the way we use the term in modern English too often read as long and boring. So I am not much interested in posting my own here too much. I know that I can get long and wordy, but I did see some things along the way... in looking for horses. Along the way I rode short of two hundred horses. I sampled and ate some bad-horse meat in several forms along the way while I was there too. (I think I punctuated that correctly?... good bad-horse meat too! )
In mid-winter I took
off for three weeks to
I traveled to four
So, while I was there, I was
looking for good horses. There are lots
of horses in
In looking for good horses, you always run up against the difference between what is good to a cultural sense and what might also be wanted also in a different sense. It is not necessarily a thing of right or wrong, it can just be different. It is a lot of work to sort it out sometimes.
At times I would be
riding something that I was really liking, but then also thinking that this
would never work for
I have a lot of stories to tell about trying to find this intersection between what is good and good and bad in a horse there. This could fill a chapter or two. It also is about personality and character in people as well as horses.
We have been in horses a while and we have been with Icelandic horses for a while. We have done this a lot and we know something of what we want. In going around, I am pretty clear on this. On this trip, I would tell folks what I wanted. Trained, easy to tolt, safe horses, which in our case, that we could teach middle-aged novice riders to ride on. That is part of what we do here. At the same time, the horses need to be for horse-people. This is all a tall order to fill.
There will be a time
However, as I went along, what became more interesting for me to see was which horses the different trainers would bring out for me to try as I traveled around looking for good horses. Of course, also in the process, I am looking for good people as well as good hoses there too.
There is something also telling about people in the process as it goes along. It is quite interesting to see the range of possibilities in horses and people! On a practical level, horses and horse-traders are the same around the world. I was enjoying watching the horsemen as much as trying to figure out their horses.
When someone brings out a stressed overly-sensitive pop-eyed horse for me to try that is clearly not the horse I am interested in, what is going on in their mind? Are they thinking I will maybe not see this? Or maybe it is that “hope springs eternal” and that I will just fall in love with it anyway. Or is there a streak of sadism more than cynicism running here in this trainer? Aspects of condescension, arrogance and egotism are always there to figure out also. In the process at the same time, it is to figure horse nature and human nature . This is age-old stuff!
Most horses right now in the winter there have just come in from pastures and paddocks and have not been ridden. So truthfully, they are not being shown to me in their best form. Some are stiff with disuse and do not necessarily show their gaits the best now at this time of year. Given this, even with natural tolting horses, the rider does need to know something of how to help them go well in tolt. With horses that are less easy to tolt than the so called natural tolter, many of them will require a little more attention to riding them in tolt easily and well. Most horses are actually like this. Even the natural tolter you ride today will be stiff or pacy or trotty with disuse tomorrow and also can be ridden poorly and turned into a trotter. Part of the challenge is to figure where they show themselves on this scale of things.
I came to understand something that was going on with some of the horses that I was being shown. I came to see also in some of the times that a horse was brought to me to ride and try, some horses would required a lot of attention to riding clearly in gait. In this, there was a cultural experience going on too.
Most Icelanders that
ride a lot are use to doing the little things that you do to help shape a horse
to go better and more cleanly in any gait.
A horse that is a little trotty or a little pacy often is sat on and quickly formed under seat to go
better, almost without thinking about it in
One time this dawned
on me when I was riding two horses in a row at one farm, both real nice but one
slightly towards trot and the other slightly towards pace. As case studies, I was enjoying getting them
to form to go better in tolt as I was riding.
It dawned on me that, while I was enjoying this horse training moment
that they each presented, that these were not horses for the American market
because they require too much attention to forming the picture to make it go
right. They were subtly and nicely
trained mares with real good characters for
So in the end, I had
14 horses that I found for
These are parts of
what I saw in
- Doug Hamilton