Making Them in America

By Elizabeth Graves

It is always exciting to see the popularity of various breeds come forth. The last 15 years has seen all the smooth gaited breeds come in to the lime light. Rightly so considering the purchasing market being made up so much by the baby boomer age. Watching the growth in popularity of the Icelandic horse being the most exciting for those familiar with the smooth gaited breeds. These small in size yet huge in heart horses are amazing in all the talent and ability one would desire in any horse.
We in the horse community now hold a big responsibility in presenting and preserving this breed in our country. Not only due to the small numbers in population here, but also not to repeat or let this breed become another victim of past mistakes made in other breeds.

 It seems the biggest first impression made, is when people witness the execution of the tolt and flying pace. People are thrilled with the speed. Rightly so as it is very exciting, but there is so much more being missed. It is my opinion, if this is all we present in this breed or make it the most important characteristic we will soon see the Icelandic horse pay an undeserved price. We can not afford to loose one animal because of ignorance, irresponsible education and marketing practices of this breed.

The horseman and horsewomen in this country now have the opportunity to actually broaden the horizons of  these horses. Through all the excellent, correct and complete training  options we have here and utilize them with this breed, we can show there is more than noses in the air, going fast, sometimes right out of control.  It is up to us to show the horse world just how credible this breed is in all areas such as dressage, jumping and virtually anything one desires to do with any breed.

Should we be romanced by how this breed has been utilized in another country? In some ways yes, but no in others.  We can improve by complete training, from good ground work basics to teaching these horses to execute gait transitions smoothly. Also to carry themselves correctly in the right frame with more seat and legs signals , rather than driving them into the bit, over lifting the head and heavy handed contact on the bit.
 Good equitation on the Icelandic horse should be the same as with any breed. To help guide and support but not hinder the natural balance and ability of the horse and certainly not to put physical stress on the body, which over time can create break down.
 It is also important we recognize how important the correct saddle, rider weight ratio's be applied to these horses as they should be with any breed to prevent undue stress and again breakdown.
 We have so much to offer this breed in complete knowledge of hoof care, nutrition, equipment fittings and  training, expanding the versatility of this very talented and capable breed.

The payoff should first be to the horse and will follow through to the reputation of the entire breed, expanding the popularity thus increasing consumer market.

A very promising future for the Icelandic horse will be seen if everyone involved with them will use common sense and good decisions are made in all areas for these phenomenal horses.

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