A brand new year and it looks as though the whole of Canada has been snowed under . This probably means that outdoor riding ie. maintaining fitness for both horse and rider , has been challenging. Slow and steady will probably be the order of the day once we can safely start emerging from this winter. Perhaps too this will be a new reality as far as our climate is concerned. For myself I have started aquafit because of very painful aging hips due , I have discovered to loss of muscle mass, non correct use of the muscles or in other words my riding muscles have forgotten how to work so decided they were no longer needed !
What I have found out in my water walking lessons, is that the language of body awareness/ mindfulness, is the same as the groundwork 'intrinzin' language. The goal is the same for both horse and human. The best part of this is that I no longer see it as 'work' because I am having fun AND I am feeling the benefit. I did wait far too long to come to this place of improvement so it is taking time to 'work' on my whole body. Everything is connected so no part of the body is in isolation.
My goal is for May and an 'Intrinzin' clinic so that I will feel that I understand the language and hopefully my body will be able to be in tune to dance with my horse, that is , without stepping on her feet :-)
Susan Blood Bunge
I am encouraging EVERYONE to continue reading down this column.
So much that we learn never goes out of style, especially when safety and enjoyment is the aim with leisure /trail riding. I cannot wait for this winter of 2016 to end so that I can again get out on the trails with my best buddies. They are all looking very fuzzy and thanks to a 1"squares slow feed hay net, they are not looking too 'bellied'. I am trying to keep mine ! under control with a daily program for my fitness. As age creeps or gallops! up on me and the joints become less pliable, I definitely need to think about me. I have been unable to add too many Km to the virtual ride, however I will be right back on track as soon as winter allows. Until then, I am making a plan to start all of us off on the road to the trail as soon as I can. fitness will be the start of the whole plan. How does anyone else start off after a prolonged layoff? It would be interesting and informative to know and to share. email@example.com
August 2015 HOME TO HOLAR THE VIRTUAL RIDE
For the 'ICY MAPLES' team, KM needed are :- from Vancouver, 5413km. From Ottawa, 4016km. From Halifax, 3547km. these are not accumulative, just to show how many km we need to get everyone across the country to Holar for the 2016 Landsmot.
Just to remind you that – if you have not already done so – you might want to register for the current ride ‘Home to Hólar´which will take us to Landsmót 2016 in Skagaförður, Iceland. You find the link to registration and all other info here: http://www.feif.org/LeisureRiding/VirtualRide.aspx
And our new facebook group can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/811892652263570/
The ‘ rules' are the same as last year. Please register as an individual before / as well as registering for a team. And if you enjoyed the ride, why don’t you encourage a few more riding friends to join in?
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At last spring looks as though it will remain with us and we can start in earnest with our plump Furry couch potato 'icies'. I managed to keep mine in better 'appearance' ie. not too much hay belly, by using a slow feeder hay net this winter. However, they will need a slow, conditioning start to their riding season. Scroll down to the article ' CONDITIONING THE TRAIL HORSE'.
This has been a brutal winter , at least here in central Canada. I need conditioning also, as wading through snow, dealing with ice and bitter cold does not preserve a riding seat or help arthritic hips to relax and move with the horse.
I am however eager to start the process.
It has been frustrating not to be able to contribute to the virtual ride to Herning because of the winter weather. If the exercize continues to Oirschot in the Nederlands for 2017. Perhaps we will consider asking to start our contributions in the spring of 2016. Meanwhile, onward into our Leisure riding for 2015. News letter contributions would be so welcome. I have found that communication with mostly leisre riders from all over the WORLD through the virtual ride, exciting and at the same time motivating. This ride is not competitive it is cooperative and such fun. Exactly what we find in our Icelandic horses, FUN.
Onward to summer. Susan Bunge
NEW 2015. RESULTS OF THE LEISURE RIDING SURVEY OF 2014
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Leisure Riding Documents.pdf
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The idea being promoted by the leisure committee ( Above ) is a great idea for all of us Icelandic horse riders. It can bring us together in a " VIRTUAL' way. Our country is so large , this idea could unite us without the travel costs:-). Put your ideas out there if you wish to form a cross country team or, enjoy the virtual experience as an individual. Either way, you will be participating in next years W.C. in Herning, Danmark. All the information can be found at the FEIF web site. A chance to be adventurous and even to find out what other riders are doing perhaps even make some world connections. :-)
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The welfare of our Equine companions is not limited to the $ value , the competition value or any other variable value. All deserve the same level of safety and welfare. The international Society for Equitation science has Written a code of conduct which is primarily for the Performance horse and rider. After I finished reading it , my thought were that the majority of the code of conduct should be applied at all times to all horses and riders. I particularly like # 8 THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL BEING OF HUMANS :-) Something we can all relate to.
Not being a computer wizzzzz kid I see that the link has loaded below the trail guide link! I will leave it there so that I don't lose it :-)
Guide Trail CANADA.pdf
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2333 responses refers to the survey that Leisure FEIF has put out. Unfortunately I could only download 33% of the survey and have requested a PDF version. However, the 2333 document gives the questions asked if a person felt strongly enough that they wish to express an opinion about THE MOST PERFECT ICELANDIC LEISURE HORSE. There is a June deadline for returned answers. :-) 2014
Pleasure Riding edited.pdf
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MORE FROM EQUINE CANADA :-The first Nationally certified Trail Riding and Tourism Instructors, Guides and Evaluators.
The trail riding and Tourism certification program creates standards within the Canadian Trail Riding and Tourism industry. It distinguishes and values Equestrian Tourism professionals within the industry and increases their recognition across Canada. For more information go to :- http://equinecanada.ca/recreation.
The second evaluation is to be held in Banff national park, October 20th to 22nd 2014.
The above link gives information about Equine Canada's initiative towards Trail riding and Tourism. E.C. are announcing a National Evaluation for trail leaders, trail riding instructors Guides and Evaluators. This is a certification program.
This is a similar program in place at the FEIF level. As yet though without any certification.
They now have this link so that they might better understand the nature of trail/Leisure riding in Canada.
Equine Canada works with different provincial and territorial associations to coordinate strategies and actions on provincial initiatives. What actions will allow Equine Canada to support the provinces and the entire industry? What support can Equine Canada bring to the provinces in the realization of common initiatives for recreation and equestrian tourism?
The Recreation Division cannot consider the development and sustainability of the industry without a close collaboration with the provinces.
GO TO EQUINE CANADA, RECREATION, for more information.
No matter which province you explore, there are always incredible horse-friendly trails for day and overnight adventures.
From rainforests to alpine meadows, from raging rivers to mirrored lakes, from vast prairie lands to rugged terrain, and from tranquil forests to breezy coastlines, spectacular scenery and bountiful wildlife await!
Just like any outdoor trip, carrying the Ten Essentials while horseback riding is vital. However, many riders make the mistake of packing the Ten Essentials on their horse. If the horse gets spooked and takes off, the rider could find themselves stuck in the backcountry without any gear at all. Always ensure you carry the Ten Essentials on your own person at all times to be prepared for the unexpected.
- Fire making kit
- Signalling device (i.e. whistle)
- Extra food and water
- Extra clothing
- Navigational/communication devices
- First aid kit
- Emergency blanket/shelter
- Pocket knife
- Sun protection
- A very handy lightweight vest for these ten emergency essentials is a highly visible surveyors vest with LOTS of pockets.
Take equipment specific to horseback riding:
- Warm, waterproof jacket & pants
- Thermal underwear
- Comfortable riding pants
- Warm socks, with extras
- Sturdy, comfortable, waterproof boots
- Bug spray
- Trail maps
- Well-trained horse
- Properly-fitted tack suitable for the activity
- Breast plates and cruppers for rugged country
- Buddy rope on your saddle
- Extra feed to prevent over-grazing
- Multi-tool with wire cutters & pliers
- Extras: pieces of leather or rawhide for repairs & spare horseshoe nails
As always in wilderness areas, riders should be alert for wild animals, especially bears, and take the necessary safety precautions. Become familiar with the terrain and climate and obtain current, accurate maps and information on the area. Respect the beautiful Canadian environment and other trail users:
- Ride within your ability. Ensure your horse is properly trained and has the correct temperament and conditioning for the trails you’re riding.
- Keep to the trail. Avoid tying horses to trees, even temporarily. Use a highline with tree-saver straps to tether your horse. Break up and scatter manure and fill in pawed holes. Pack out what you pack in.
- Announce your presence and walk quietly when passing hikers, runners or other riders. Simply put, share the trail!
- Join a trail-riding club – they work hard to preserve and expand your riding opportunities.
Saddle up and head out with your friends to explore Canada’s wild and wonderful outdoors!
The OIHA web site ( has been experiencing some difficulties) or the OIHA E. mail address OIHA.Central@gmail.com CLRC will also list some members. Ontario owners are predominantly Leisure Trail/ clinic riders.
New Brunswick Equestrian Association
Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation
Island Horse Council
Newfoundland Equestrian Association
Well worth reading. The latest news from the FEIF Leisure committee
Conference News Previous Next Current news Archive Annual Leisure Riding Meeting 2014 [16 February 2014] The Leisure Riding Committee has reviewed the outcome of the survey conducted among all member countries last year on access to nature. The result confirms the fundamental differences between countries influenced by ancient Nordic rules dictating a right for all to move freely with due care of not causing any damage and acting in a responsible way and the countries more heavily influenced by ancient Roman or German Rules. The outcome reveals also a lot of varying details. Work relating to securing access has to be conducted on national level but FEIF may support this. We will do so via a homepage aimed at sharing information and experience and also sharing relevant information for leisure riders in general. To educate leisure riders and improve safety in the sport, the national organizations and leisure riders are still encouraged to participate actively in TREC events in their home countries. Mingling with other breeds is also excellent marketing of the unique qualities of the Icelandic horse. Work in relation to developing a descriptive assessment system for the qualities of the horses is now taking a more firm form as a co-operation with leading educational institutions on this will be initiated shortly Last update: 16-Feb-2014 18:07:08 UTC (c) 1995-2014 - FEIF - International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations
THINKING AHEAD TO SPRING
I saw a picture of the original S.U.V. and yes it is our four legged one horse power vehicle. So far my technical download skills have failed me but, it will put a smile on your face to google it if you have not already seen it. I thought what a perfect homage to all breeds of our leisure /trail horses. Just as we have a favourite brand of vehicle so we have our favourite breed of horse. We care for our vehicles seasonally or otherwise and for some of the the same reasons we care for our horses. With the explosion in communication, the ability to find information and advice, our horses stand the chance of out -living our vehicles!. However, the twist to this is that we need to know ' what questions to ask' in the first place.
In the region of Canada where I live and ride, last summer saw an increase in the tick population. No big deal I thought as I removed many ticks at a time from our canine and feline friends as well as from the equines. There are many species of ticks and Lyme disease was simply a tick borne disease, not in my backyard. That was until one of our very healthy young dogs was diagnosed with a very high Titre with Lyme disease. Then I started to investigate Equine Lyme and found that it was a possibility and that the eastern affected U.S. states actually had developed a vaccination for it. From this experience I realise that there are other regional health threats that the right question can reveal. Just as knowing the correct and also disturbing sounds from your vehicle, awareness of signs or symptoms in your horse can alert you to an early action.
Some health threats depend on the region or terrain, the activity or preventative actions that are necessary. Again, knowing the question to ask about any activity we undertake with our horse is the key to enjoyment, and longevity of both our horse and the activity. Knowledge gives us the power to act sooner rather than later, it can also remove fear of the unknown when we thoroughly educate ourselves.
I don't believe that ignorance is bliss where my trusting , treasured and reliable friend is concerned. My car---- well somewhat the same but not quite :-)
WHAT IS YOUR LEISURE/TRAIL RIDING REALITY?
For the leisure rider in continental Europe, access to 'riding space' is a different issue than most of us encounter in Canada or the USA.However, perhaps that is only MY perception. I am blessed to live on a rural property with access to acres and acres of trails. I have two of six horses that are road safe alone. One of these is a 32 year old 1/4 horse who now enjoys retirement and occasional 'small person' tours in the round pen. Increased use and speeding traffic on a previously ideal rural road for riding, has discouraged me. I am usually alone when taking my rides in retirement.This raises another issue for the lone rider. A horse is a pre-programmed fright and flight animal. Even the most bomb proof horse is still a horse with a strong self- preservation instinct. If I take my cell phone with me (possibility of no signal! ) I carry it on me. I do not give it to my horses' saddle bags for safe keeping. I would hate to watch it disappear down the trail as I sit helpless on the ground. A note left on the kitchen table might give folks a clue when my riderless horse returns to its herd and its next easy meal. That is as long as I have stuck to my stated plan!
My social solution for myself and my horse is the trail club. I belong to a 25 year old club with approx. fifty members. Most of the clubs regular trails are between two and one half and one and one half hours away from my home. The years trail rides are set at the beginning of the riding season starting in April. They are decided on according to the time of the year, location and trail conditions at that time.Also, how bad the insects might be, haying time etc. until early November. Then regional weather makes trail riding less pleasurable. Some members then participate in Xmas parades more local to their homes. From our particular club we have some members who are training their trail savvy horses for a mounted search and rescue team. This is an extension to the experience gained as a respectful trail horse and rider. Our club rides move out at 10am , we break for lunch then head back to the trailers. Usually the ride is between 5 and 6 hours in the saddle. As group riders we all understand the need to ride to the least experienced rider or horse. One frightening experience can sour a horse and rider forever. This IS supposed to be fun :-). Other than that the rules of respect for the preservation of nature and other trail users makes for a pleasant day with a great companion.
This is my Leisure / trail experience, what is yours? Is your horse shod or barefoot? In our directions to rides we have a note on footing conditions. Is there anything that prevents you from experiencing leisure /trail riding with your horse? Is there a solution that someone else might have an answer for or just an idea to try? Any problem is not small when it comes to dealing with A 1,000LB animal that is fright and flight programmed and has issues that could probably be worked out with the right kind of understanding.
If you are reading this and think you would like to 'share' anything, please do so. firstname.lastname@example.org I have to say that my Icelandic Sígauna at 18 years old is THE best :-). At 9 years old, his buddy Röskur needs a few more trail hours before we develop the trust I need to ride alone on the road or in a group of other breeds of horses away from his buddy. He IS getting there as a friend is riding Sígauna for me, giving me a chance to build Röskurs confidence for himself.
HAPPY TRAILS. PICTURES AND STORIES ALWAYS WELCOME. TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO BRAG IF YOU WISH. WE ALL LOVE TO DO THAT ABOUT OUR OWN TRUSTY COMPANIONS, SO, WE ALL UNDERSTAND. :-)
Leisure and Trail Riding
November 29th 2014 and we now have contact with FEIF and the leisure riding committee.
We have figured that perhaps technical gliches have kept us apart since the FEIF committee was formed and requested a representative be appointed by each member nation. Not a problem as here we are now.
Lone Hoegholt is the chair of the FEIF committee and although we in Canada did not submit a survey they put out, the last FEIF news outlines the committee's goals. I will try to summarize.
The FEIF committee is initiating the process to define a quality assessment system that will serve as a guideline. This guideline will describe the characteristics of a suitable leisure riding horse. characteristics such as :- willingness to be handled in the stable, saddling, behaviour when alone or in a group, behaviour when exposed to different environments and situations, surprises etc. The assesment will be developed over the coming years in cooperation with the breed committee, the Education committee and educational institutions. The committee is also reaching out to horse networks in order to be politically involved with access to 'nature' trails etc. This can be an issue in Canada in our more urban settings and is normally the politics of established leisure trail horse associations. So, this is more of a European issue but can affeect even the wide open spaces of Canada. Some distances on the trans Canada trail are not open to equine travel!.
There are educational issues that could be addressed as a Leisure rider. We are all 'RIDERS ' first and have a desire to stay safe. Especially when far from the confines of an arena or fenced area. We ride on and over different terrain and so on. Education does not cover only 'what level of rider are you? ' A leisure/trail rider must think always of the one horse power that is taking care of you as a rider. This is a responsibility we have in order to be able to enjoy the great outdoors with our most willing companion. Hearing the voice of others is education itself email@example.com Do you have pictures? The facebook page for the open CIHF could tell you about other icelandic Horse trail and leisure riders. perhaps a visit to Europe might introduce you to other leisure / trail riders in a different setting. Even in our vast spaces of Canada, I encounter road riding and recently found out that my 'steady eddy' had no idea about fast moving object coming towards him. I have work to do!
Google site for Thermoregulation in Horses in a COLD time of year. academy in the Art of Equine Education
CONDITIONING THE TRAIL HORSE
People often ask " How do I condition my horse for a 25 mile ride?" Chances are that if you are regularly riding your horse for at least an hour a few times a week at walk, trot and canter, you may be more ready than you think.
There is no one- size- fits- all program for conditioning a horse for distance riding. However, there are several basic principles that have stood the test of time.
You know your horse and there are some base lines you could record- temperature, resting heart rate, attitude etc. know your horses legs. Groom / massage your horse with your hands. This will show you where he/she holds tension.
Start with L.S.D. NO not the drug :-) Long , Slow , Distance. The horse ' systems fit up at different rates. Increase speed OR distance NEVER both at the same time. this article is merely meant prompt the rider to understand that the horse is not a machine and really will benefit from a structured " get into the fitness groove " and at the same time will be a much happier companion. There is much more explanation in the original article which can be found on on the OCTRA web site written by Nancy Zukewich.
Example of a typical conditioning week:-
Day 1- Long slow distance.
Day 2- Rest.
Day 3-Intense day. Hills, interval training, Fartlek- play with the speed.
Day 4 Rest.
Day 5- Schooling in an enclosed area.
Day 6- Rest.
Day 7- Lighter day of riding or schooling since you plan an LSD ride the next day. You could even 'play' with your horse doing Parelli, TTEAM or other ground work.
You might ask , " Why so many days of REST? " Rest is part of the program. It is enough to ride 3/4 times a week. A horse needs rest in order to respond to the stress of the workout and remodelling of the tissues. All horses systems fit up at different rates. bones , joints , tendons and Ligaments take the longest. The exercize itself does not make the horse stronger, it is during rest period that systems tissues respond to the conditioning sessions.
This is simply a guide , an outline to encourage the reader to seek more information. We all learn in different ways with different presentations. For myself I have been encouraged by the fact that with some commitment, conditioning my horse potentially looks a lot easier than conditioning MY body ! I owe it to my horse to achieve some semblance of fitness, don't I ?
Lets talk L.N.T. after all we talked L.S.D. :-) in the last article. Most trail heads are posted with the basic ideas of Leave No Trace. But what does this mean? I can say that many of the trails I ride with my trail club are relatively clear of beer cans/ bottles, food wrappings and just general garbage. L.N.T. in most cases is just common sense. Beyond what we think of as 'garbage' there are other common sense reasons that might not be as obvious.
Don't walk on a clean floor is the same as, don't walk your horse on sensitive vegetation. You are in charge.
Something we might not think about is where we might tie our horse. We do not want to tie to a tree for long periods of time as their weight alone will compress the soil around the tree damaging the roots. They may chew on the bark of the tree allowing insects easy access. A high- line is one answer for extended periods of time. If you use a high- line be sure to use a tree saver. An old cinch or a flat nylon strap will work.
There are several U tube demo's on how to tie a high-line also how to tie the knot that will keep your horse safe and happy.
When you make camp, use existing sites if possible. This way you do no more damage to the landscape than is already there.
Spread horse droppings and break them up so that they decompose more easily.
Use fire rings do not make new ones as fire scorches the earth and it takes centuries to return to normal.
When on the trail stay on the existing path to do as little damage as possible.
When crossing water be aware of the banks of the streams and try to cross where the least amount of damage will be done.
When crossing open country , spread out so as not to make a new trail. One horse does little compaction of the soil, many horses on the same track will cause considerable compaction.
We all want to enjoy the trails and hills and mountains with our horses but we must also share it with many users. With this in mind we must be aware of the many people we will encounter and be mindful of their needs.
When we all go to the sandbox to play, we make sure our manners are packed along with us.