We are often asked “What is special about Icelandic Horses in the UK?”
There are many special things about our horses, but we would say that.
One of the more unusual features of the Icelandic horse is that they are an ancient and pure breed of horse, as no other breed of horse has been allowed in Iceland since the 9th century.
This means that from time to time we are asked to allow our horses to be used in historical reenactments. We join the Vikings of Middle England as often as we can. We train and do displays at our spring show (1st Weekend in May) and usually visit Rockingham Castle on the August Bank Holiday.
Many people have never heard of Tölt, the special gait that distinguishes Icelandic horses from nearly every other breed in the world (in historical terms it is called Amble in the UK) – here is a little video clip from “Going Medieval” which was released in 2012 where Mike Loades a British writer, television presenter and military historian talks about transport in Medieval times using three of our Icelandic horses, Muska, Freyr and Svalur.
Icelandic horses have been used as pack horses in the UK for as long as records can be traced back because of their weight carrying abilities, but the rise of Pony Trekking in Scotland after the Second World War brought a small number of these horses straight from Iceland to take advantage of this special attribute in the modern age and introduced a select group of people to the delights of riding Icelandic horses.
Many people now visit Iceland for holidays and have their first experience of Icelandic horses there. Very often that means they are then hooked and come back to the UK wanting to recreate that experience with Icelandic horses here. In 2018 the number of Icelandic horses in the UK reached 1000, so they are a rare foreign breed here and owners are widespread across the UK.
If you would like to know more about this special breed of horse, think about coming to one of our shows or visit us at Rockingham in August.
My first blog post on the shiny new website!
It’s Mo writing – I doubt Nick will ever blog, but he might. I am hoping that at least in some measure, me writing on here and posting a link as Nick in facebook will make it clear who is speaking. For those of you who are new to Oakfield Farm, Nick runs the horsey end and I do admin and until the beginning of the year used to do the majority of the land/farm management.
Nick retired at the beginning of last year (2018) and we thought we had made a plan. Ho Hum. That didn’t come off and we had a few reversals over the winter which meant we spent Christmas and New Year rethinking the future. We are now on Plan B. So far, its working WONDERFULLY for me. I will bore you with the details about that some other time.
Today though and for the first blog, I would like to reflect on the show and the weekend just passed.
It was a blast. Exhausting, but a blast.
It’s now Thursday – that is how things go around here. I am not complaining.
Firstly – as always and it should never be forgotten – thanks to the catering crew (Sarah Edwards, Jan Payne & Linnie Frith this time). They served over 200 meals through the weekend and raised £320 for the Set the Pace Young Riders fund. A very welcome addition as the fund has taken a huge hit match funding FOUR young riders going to the FEIF camp in Iceland and because of your generosity and their hard work all four have reached the £400 per person cap. In addition the young riders fund has paid the transport and chaperone costs of the unaccompanied young riders coming to the Ingleby Hall camp in July. Its fantastic to be able to support our developing and growing crowd of young riders in the UK and good to have money left for the next challenge which will be the youth cup next year as there are no UK based youth riders going to the World Championships this year.
Personally, and I hope you will comment on here or on Facebook, I thought the sandwich lunch and soup option worked really well (apart from the non-compostable waste which we will work on as this was a trial). Please share your opinions and preferences. I enjoyed the range of choices on Saturday evening too and the “menu board” – we will make that a permanent feature, its yet another great idea from the endlessly inventive and invaluable catering crew.
Results are available here now and we are adding all the historical ones back to the beginning and the long awaited anonymised progression spreadsheet by horse/rider combination will be there shortly. This data is available for any purpose, you may have seen the discussion with the IHSGB about whether to include the data from the shows in the now clarified UK ranking page. We are classed as a Non-FEIF show, so you can see how you are doing with the summary there.
There is also a new opportunity to use this data on an individual basis for the NEW Summer Tolt Series which I will talk more about on the Set the Pace blog as it is being administered by Shona Stewart (IHSGB end) and myself (other competitions) – There are monthly rosettes, prizes and a trophy up for grabs at the end of the season. It does mean you need to be able to provide proof of your results (qualifier or final – take a photo on your phone) and submit them to be included in the leader board. In-it-to-win-it. There is no cost other than the entry fees you would pay to the particular competitons.
We had six first-timers here this weekend and either privately, in the comments or on Facebook it would be good to get their feedback and any questions they were left with or difficulties they met. I won’t name them here except Richard Gledhill who won the Tolt.Club Best Newcomer rosette on Duna.
Congratulations too to Philippa Pringle who won the Tolt.Club Best Partnership & Robyn Philpott who won the Tolt.Club Most Improved and Tindur won the Best Icelandic horse rosette.
These awards were chosen by the judges, Mic Rushen, Nanco Lekkerkerker and Tim Hutchinson and we give them our thanks for their efforts throughout the weekend even if I did give Nanco the fright of his life Saturday morning when I appeared to be ensconsed in the loo when he went for an early morning pee (he opened the office door by mistake!) Much hilarity ensued from my end. Poor Nanco.
A slightly frustrating day for Harriet Vincent & Rispa, coming second to Robyn twice, by the judges vote in Four Gait (F1) and by half a point in the Individual Tolt (T1). Great to see both of them blossoming and obviously enjoying themselves. (photo Mic Rushen)
Helena Levett won the in hand obstacles and Janice Hutchinson the ridden ones – we had 19 people enter which made it the biggest class! Huge thanks go to Mary for her judging (did anyone take any pictures of the obstacles? Nicola? Richard?) Mary is running an obstacle training camp here at the end of May, so if you enjoyed your first experience of obstacles and fancy some more, come join us, booking link is here. We will be having separate Liberty, In Hand and Ridden competitions in September and if you want to do more in between now and then, there is a monthly obstacle agility competition over on Tolt.Club.
There were several people who raised their game significantly this weekend and braved the individual classes for the first time. I hope you all found that the extra feedback from the judges (and subsequently online) was worth the extra nerves.
We will be running specific class training seminars (plus T2 – Loose Rein Tolt ) at Mic’s Summer Camp, 12th July and if you want them on the Friday before the September Show. We will add that option to the entry form nearer the time. Ann Savage has kindly offered her services for the T2 seminar at Mic’s camp. Ann has been representing the UK in the World Championships for T2 since 2010.
Finally (I think!) We have decided to open the oval track on our event free weekends between now and the British Championships to encourage as many people as can to practice and brave entering. The farm will also be available for practice/resting in the week before the British Championships from Tuesday) Please let us know if you want to come along by booking on the link or PM if you want to come on a weekday we haven’t identified.
The feedback from the September show was invaluable and those who stayed over managed to clear up and reset the club house in 30 minutes, a job which took me many hours previously so thanks to Debbie Ede for the suggestion of a jobs list. We will do that again (Happy Mo!) Particular thanks to Martine, Ian, Harriet, Mary, Richard & Linda who were ahead of me and Nick! To Bridget for doing the loos all weekend and anyone else who helped her out.
The show and its feedback is/has been an amazing catalyst for our future planning. Thank you all for your input and see you again soon!