Let’s see if the video works….


New Orleans, Louisiana

October 25, 2008

Hardly comprehensive video coverage, but a bit of the wedding as seen
from the perspective of father of the groom who slipped a pocket cam in
his suit.

First, the wet towel shave at Aidan Gill.  As much as they let me
of it…

Before the ceremony, the behind the scenes…

I did not have the nerve — or presence of mind — to shoot the
ceremony itself.  But here is what it looked like before we went
in and mingled with the guests.


Growing Up…

Thokki and his brother, Prestur, are growing up! They are a year apart, but one would not know it. Prestur is HUGE!

As they live in a small herd, they have learned the difference between the various older horses. They bother geldings and leave Komma, their mother, pretty much alone. By her choice.

But just standing there, nibbling away at some grass is so boring! Fortunately, we have two young ones who love to play the same games.

Click to Play Video

Check out how well Prestur moves. We were so worried when he was born.

I am testing two different player styles. The first one, with the simple controls, may be distracting. But it is nice and clean. The only problem is the delay before the image starts. I’d like opinions.

Thokki’s First Adventure

Thokki is about to leave home for the first time!

He’s going off to be evaluated. Not by doctors, but by experts who have come all the way from Iceland to assess the performance and confirmation of Icelandic horses according to a uniform international standard.

I am just telling Thokki’s story, from his perspective. If you would like to see comprehensive coverage and an explanation of these breeding evaluations, I have filmed one in Wisconsin in 2004 and one in 2006 at MillFarm, just a few miles from us, where Thokki is going this morning.

A special feature of today’s evaluation is that young horses, such as our Thokki, are presented in a separate class for foals and youngsters. As Thokki has been gelded, our purpose in showing him was just for our own education. But these breedng evaluations can be serious business because breeding stock is rated.

First, the young horses will be observed for their gaits and behavior in motion.

They will now check out his conformation:

Click to Play Video

The results are in and have been explained. They are immediately posted to World Fengur, the international database of registered Icelandic horses.

Here are the scores and comments. Click on each page to enlarge it.

and here:


No rest for Komma. Shortly after giving birth to Prestur, we are asking her for another one. Our vet, Bernado, counted the days after birth for the next ovulation which we would skip but give a short-cycle her so that she would be ready. It involved giving her a shot when Prestur was only a week old. I’ll post the details.

Two weeks later Bernado came by and checked Komma to see when should be bred again and we scheduled Martina to bring Stigandi by.

Martina took Stigandi out of the trailer and put him in a stall at our neighbor’s barn. Rather than put him back in the trailer to bring him to Komma, she did what horses are supposed to do…

It was time for some get togethers and for Thokki to meet his father.

While we waited for Bernado, we had a little discussion over the difference between the two stallions, Stigandi who was Thokki’s father, and Klerkur, who sired Prestur.

Bernado arrived. He was now used to my filming him. Maybe too much so!

For Stigandi it was time to go back to the barn and take a rest…

Click to Play Video

Now, I have already heard from friends in Iceland that they do it differently over there. Not that the mare mounts the stallion, but that they have a large field with one stallion and a bunch of mares and… a few weeks later they are taken away and presto! foals show up the next year.

There is nothing wrong with that and I am not criticizing Iceland for having large farms, lots of pasture, and a huge amount of horses. In fact, if the USA had the same ratio of horses to people as Iceland, we would have 70,000,000 of them. Seventy million! So we have to do it differently. If you would like to see how it works in Iceland, check this out from the farm, Flugumýri.

Along Came Prestur!

On Sunday, July 13, I went down to check Komma at 11 PM and I discovered this. The last time Komma had been checked was an hour ago, so this first photo is as close as I’ve come to getting there at the “right” time. And forget about video.

I ran up to get Sarah and the camera. Fortunately the house is only about 100 yards from the barn. We watched in awe as our foal lay there on the ground studying his new world. It was almost as if he was making up has mind whether or not to stay. Komma lingered over him, impatiently encouraging him to get up with a few pokes of the hoof. She had had enough. He must definitely stay.

We went down early the next morning to see how the foal was doing. Typical scene, nursing from his mother.

But there was something, the way he placed his front foot…

We had a problem!

Now there was nothing we could do but call the vet and wait.

How serious was this? Would he need surgery? Would he always have a limp?

And he looks so cute… It crossed my mind that instead of a future riding horse, I would have a lawn ornament, albeit a cute one for a while. All we could do now is wait.

Fortunately, the vet, Bernado, is our neighbor and he was as able to come right away. He also brought his stallside manner…

We, and I mean, “we”, made a splint and wrapped the foot. I could not film the process because I was holding the leg and extending the fetlock while Bernado wrapped.

We could see improvement and after 2 days, Bernado came back to see how Prestur was doing and if he needed to change the splint.

Now I knew I would have my riding horse!

Post Script — The morale of the story is call the vet right away. It would seem self-evident, but I got this note from a German friend:

Hi Stan!
Congratulations again. On Sunday you had the most beautiful foal of the world. Now you also have a healthy one! I am so glad.
In May someone called me to treat a foal which also has a contracted fetlock. Unfortunately this “foal” is already two years old. Isn´t it a crime to leave a foal with such a handicap for two years untreated?

I am so glad that Prestur is so well!!

The First Lesson

Thokki is ready for his first real lesson.

Knútur Berndsen, an Icelandic trainer, made a barn visit to check Thokki out and start him off in the training that is appropriate for a horse of his age. But hold on! Before we actually meet Knútur, how about learning how to pronounce his name! It is k’NOOtur. The accent over the “u” changes the pronounciation to OO as in “through”. Otherwise the “u” would be pronounced as the “u” in “butter”.

We wanted to be able to load Thokki into the trailer in case of an emergency such as taking him to the vet, etc. We tried and although he did not seem afraid of the trailer, he balked at getting in. So we decided to impose on Knútur to teach him how to load.

But first things first. Knútur wanted to see where Thokki was in his learning. So Sarah went off to the pasture and put a halter on Thokki and led him off. No problem.

Click to Play Video

About that knot…
I didn’t really get it the first time around, so on another day I asked Knútur to tie it again so I could shoot a close-up and memorize it. After all, how many people have Internet in the paddock?

So now Knútur will see how he handles in hand.

This flies in the face of much that I have heard about the Icelandic method of raising the horse. In Iceland I have visited with farmers and trainers who prefer that the horse be raised away from much human contact in a large herd in nature.

Are we fussing with him too much? Will we mellow him out so much that he will be a dull horse later on, too used to people, not willing to work?

It was on my mind. So I asked…

That was a good answer and it resonated with our needs and abilities to care for the horse. Perhaps, at some point, we will send him off to play with other Icelandics his age in a large herd. But not yet!

Certainly, one of his tasks will have to be to let his feet be picked up when the farrier comes. Knútur showed us some tricks that also apply to larger and older horses.

Thokki does not need to be “trained” to be sprayed. That is not Icelandic!

Enough for today! Knútur will come back and start working on trailer loading.