Skumer and Lettir


Winter, I like this time of year when winter finally comes..  It means you can come inside for some time by the fire without looking like you’re slacking.   Being able to catch up on reading, without looking like you’re slacking.   You know, when you come in through a cold door with snow on your boots and ice on your beard people kind of cut you some slack, because of course it is not them having to come in from the cold.  They like looking out at horses being ridden by in the snow but then, are mostly glad it is not them. 


In between chores and riding out I have been reading back issues of Eidfaxi now that it is okay to come in and take breaks by the fire.  I like the writing they are doing in Eidfaxi.

   The format of having many experienced voices talking about horses along with their illustrative anecdotal horsemanship.  .  It is a lot of journalistic work to publish like this but the result is that the writing is really fun to read.


Like, the lead article in the October ‘05 issue about these old famous breeding horses from the 1960’s,  Skumer and Lettir fra Storulag and their owner, Sigfunnur Palsson.    It is fun to read about the nature of these horses as it is written.  It describes a range of possibility you can find in Icelandic horses that makes them so interesting to ride.   Both horses were tremendous five-gaiters known for their ground covering wide strides but with variation in each horse at that level.  One of them scoring 9.0 for gallop and willingness, and 9.5 for both trot and tolt, which the article says, “which probably was unique at that time”.  Lettir had exceptionally wide movements in tolt and trot”. 


But talk about balance of gait distribution,

these horses both got entered in all the different club races and would win: tolt, trot, gallop and pace.  


It is kind of fun to read this and compare.  For instance, I got a couple of horses this last year from Iceland that I really am enjoying because they are pretty balanced in gaits but one you would describe one as four-gaited (trot) and the other one as 5-gaited (pace) in how they go.  Both are “five gaited” but only one would win speed records.  In riding them, by their nature they each require slightly different riding which is part of the fun.  I liked reading the article about these two, Skumer and Lettir for the mental check that it gives to what and how I am riding now.



Also I like reading Eidfaxi for the written culture they print:  The article is as much about Sigfunnur, as a horse breeder and horseman.  “We can add that Sigfinnur often rode walk in between the fast parts.  Then he lighted his pipe and told stories, sometimes exaggerated, sometime plain lies.”   That seems to go along with doing horses with any old horseman.



-Doug Hamilton


Icelandics fra Slettunni, in Iowa