Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dinner Conversation

At the company Christmas party a coworker mentioned to me at the dinner table that his mother has an Icelandic horse for sale in California. He wanted to know if I knew anyone who would be interested.

In a recent issue of Horse & Rider Magazine there was an article that discussed horse buying etiquette. Right off the bat, I let my manners slip by asking why she has this horse for sale. Personally, I think that is a fair question if you know the person isn't a breeder who sells horses for a living. Some sellers may be trying to unload a horse that is showing signs of going lame or has behavior problems, and they won't mention it unless you specifically ask. He said his mother is getting on in her years and has two other horses. That type of response always causes me to question that of the three horses, why is this the horse she wants the least?

Someone recently asked me -- if I had to sell one of my horses, which would it be? I said it would be Lostine, for no other reason than that she is the horse I am least attached to. We've never had a strong connection, probably because she's been bounced from home to home and is now hesitant to develop meaningful relationships with humans, since they seem to come and go so quickly. It took years just for her to finally relax and accept a hug from me. I used to call her coy, because each time I looked at her or spoke to her, she'd turn her head away, as if hoping that by blatantly ignoring me I might go away. Still, I'd hate to fulfill Lostine's expectations of humans by selling her to another home yet again. I'd rather be the one who gives her a permanent home in her senior years.

On the other hand, Bombay and Gabbrielle come running for their hugs. If I don't give Gabbrielle her good morning kiss, she slobbers all over my face until I kiss her back. When I hug Bombay, he wraps his head and neck over my shoulder and gently pats me on the back. There's a lot of interaction, obvious love, and responsiveness that I get from these two horses. If I sold Bombay or Gabbrielle, I'd be like a parent who gave up her baby for adoption, and then spent the rest of her days regretting it and wondering what the baby's life is like. I'd be looking up at the stars wondering if my horse is looking at those same stars right now.

On the other hand, since I like trail riding, it would make the most sense to keep Lostine. She's the oldest, most experienced, most level-headed horse I have. She hasn't given me much trouble on the trails, however she can be a nightmare when I try to ride her around other horses at my friend's place. She's very concerned about her rank in the herd, so it's best to keep her away from other horses if I want a pleasant ride.

Whenever someone realizes they've got more horses than they can handle, there's a reason why it is decided that one horse will go and the others will stay. On the other hand, it doesn't mean anything is wrong with the horse. I've watched my friend change her mind multiple times over which horses to sell from her breeding operation. There were some horses she said she would never part with, only to turn around and put them up for sale because some other horses were serving her current needs better. She said she'd never keep a gelding until she bred a beauty who wins her Grand Champion and Reserve Champion titles in halter on a regular basis. Now she won't let that boy go despite receiving generous offers at every show. It does seem a bit silly that she is a breeder who won't let a gelding go, because you can't breed a gelding. However, that gelding can still earn her money by showcasing the quality of horses that she can breed.

Anyway, I found out that this Icelandic horse for sale is a red dun, 14-hands high, never spooks, yet has no experience on the trails and needs to be trained. He wasn't sure about the age. I did tell him that if one of my horses passes on and I am ever in the market for another horse, I would want a gaited horse. However, I felt that I am just too big for an Icelandic. He surprised me by telling me that both he and his brother have ridden this horse around, and they are both well over six-feet tall. He said these horses may be short, but they are stout and strong.

Of course, this dinner conversation lead to me wanting to learn more about Icelandic horses. They can be between 13 and 14-hands high, which technically makes them ponies, though the breed registries always refer to them as horses. Their price tags surprised me. I saw some Icelandic horses for sale for $250 and others for $50,000. Icelandic horses are not easy to find. For instance, only currently has 53 Icelandic horses listed for sale in the entire world, while has 46 Icelandic horses for sale in the entire world. For more information on Icelandic horses, Wikipedia has good coverage.


fernvalley01 said...

I would have asked why as well. Icelandis horses are a very cool breed, I would consider one if I wasn't all full up. The issue of what horse to sell can be difficult , the each have merit . I have a gelding here I should sell, but I don't know , he needs to go to just the right place ,then how do we guarantee that he would stay there

Breathe said...

Icelandic are supposed to be pretty calm and spookfree, I've heard. I think they'd make a great kids horse. But it's all about personality.

I think Lily is like Lostine. She's hesitant to form commitments too. I don't blame her, I suspect she's had the same kind of life as Lostine.

Maybe in 5 years she'll realize she's home.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Icelandic horses are very sturdy and they have wonderful personalities. Where we boarded once, my daughters friend had an Icelandic and he was adorable and a full sized girl rode him. He had lots of great gaits and his owner had a lot of fun with him.

Katharine Swan said...

That's a good point about why people sell the animals they do when they are downsizing. Not everyone thinks that way though -- some people sell the ones they know have a better chance of finding a good home, if only because they want to make sure the animal sells.

I know what you mean about attachments, though. I don't think I could ever sell Panama. Your comparison to putting a child up for adoption would be exactly how I'd feel, too!

Lulu said...

A year or so back, I needed $$$ for vehicle repairs, so I chose to sell a horse. The horse I chose to sell was a big trail broke gelding. Of what stood in my pasture, he was the horse that I thought would sell the easiest. He was young, sound, and broke.....he sold within two weeks thanks to online advertising.

Tammy said...

Hmm. Tough choice. If heart strings weren't attached, it would be our belgian cross. She is broke to ride & that's about it. She is gentle enough to put anyone on her, but who wants to ride a big ol' horse like that. We don't drive - someone would have to train her to do that. But, we've had her for almost 10 years. She came to us as a weanling. I would sooner give her to someone I know than sell her to someone I didn't. So she stays.

My son't little red dun would probably be the first to go. The kids ride less and less now. I like her a lot and ride her quite a bit, but not enough to justify keeping her if I needed to unload one. I don't have the attachment that I have to the others and she would probably be pretty marketable.

Hope I never have to make that choice...

Anonymous said...

I've been hard up for quick cash and picked the easiest/quickest to sell horse to go (once a Zippo Pine Bar daughter, dang it). Other times I had more time and sold horses that weren't such a good fit in our program (one looked like a fab hunter prospect but couldn't step over a stick). As far as problem horses, I have a few I won't sell because I'm afraid of what would happen to them (like my huge previously abused mare, terrified of men, partially blind in both eyes - what woulod happen to her?). But I don't think it's out of line to ask why a horse is being sold, although I do find it odd when someone asks me why I'm selling a weanling when I'm a breeder and we are surrounded by weanlings!

Leah Fry said...

I think I'd like an Icelandic. I am totally okay with that size. Poco is only 14.2hh.

I'd ask, too. Seems like a fair question to me.

And I feel the same way about Poco as you do about Lostine. I don't want to attribute too much human emotion to it, but when they've been sold so many times, they really do hold back from forming attachments. Nita said it took almost 5 years for her mare to settle in. I've had Poco for 3 years, and although he's changed remarkably, I still think it may take that long for him to know he's staying here. I don't care what anybody says, changing homes like that effects them on some level.

Shirley said...

Linda Tellington Jones sister, Robyn Hood, raises and sells Icelandic horses in Vernon, B.C.- here is a link to their website
They have 40 horses in their sales list.
I rode a Peruvian Paso once, it was amazingly smooth and very beautiful. They descend from the Barb and Arab horses.

KD said...

I have thought about who would go if I had to sell one of my horses. Believe it or would be my heart...Stylin. She's younger, flashier and would probably adapt to a new home if necessary. Although I don't ride Dixie as much and she's not as loving to me, I couldn't bear to think that this 22 yr old horse would not be cared for in her twilight years. She was my first horse when I became a horse owner again in my early forties. I have vowed to keep both of them for life...but we never know what life will throw us. I need to adjust my will to cover their care should I die first.

Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

I have a 10 year old Icelandic gelding. He's 13.2 hands, but as you mentioned they're so stocky that when you ride them they don't feel 'small.' The ride feels like any other horse. Like all horses, they have different personalities. My gelding is a big, friendly goof who loves everyone. My wife had an Icelandic mare, but we eventually found her another home. She had a habit of wanting to spin to the left unexpectedly and Betty didn't feel she could trust her. One other thing about Icelandics. They are long-lived. The average Icelandic Horse will live well into it's forties and you can ride them well into their thirties. My wife's Icelandic mare was 27 when we let her go, but she had more speed and stamina than my 10 year old gelding.

The ride, the tolt, is really nice to ride -- especially for old bodies like ours. My wife got a Rocky Mountain Horse mare that she loves.


IceRyder said...

Not all Icelandic Horses are gaited, and for sure, they are ponies, not only by size, but by mtDNA.

Not all Icelandics can carry a lot of weight; some can, some can't.

I have Icelandics, and also have a website with lots of info, and a discussion list on YahooGroups for more info or discussion with other Icelandic owners:

photogchic said...

Seems like every expo I have been too in the last 3 years has had an Icelandic breed demo. I know in our area their are a lot of them and the owners really seem organized and participate in group activities to help promote the breed.

Paint Girl said...

I could never sell Brandy. I am so much like you, I would feel like I am giving up my child! Plus I would worry the rest of my life about what kind of home she would go too. It takes a special kind of person to be able to handle a horse with issue's like hers. The person has to be patient, trusting and very kind.
Where we go trail riding, we run into a couple that rides Icelandic's. I have always thought they were pretty cool. But I prefer bigger horses. The ones we see on the trails, seem like excellent trail horses.

IceRyder said...

Dan said, "The average Icelandic Horse will live well into it's forties and you can ride them well into their thirties."

I only know of one Icelandic who was in her forties (42)when she died. And a few that were in their thirties.

I would love to know if there is any statistical data on the long-livedness of Icelandics.

Maery Rose said...

I want to sell my 15 year old Missouri Foxtrotter because I think he'd be easier to sell with his smooth ground covering gates. Unfortunately, my heart and connection lies with my jumpy Quarter Horse, Tennessee Walker who has the smoothness of a jack hammer. Go figure.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Aww, you have such a soft heart. You said "I'd be like a parent who gave up her baby for adoption, and then spent the rest of her days regretting it and wondering what the baby's life is like. I'd be looking up at the stars wondering if my horse is looking at those same stars right now."

That side of you doesn't often show up in your posts. This touched my heart, NM :)

Anyway, as you know I'd sell Baby Doll if I could and I felt that she was getting a better home with a more confidant, sticky-seated rider (lol). Along with her crowhops and barn sourness, and her stubborn-ness, she doesn't tend to be spooky, but when she does spook it's HUGE with teleporting sideways or bolting and spinning.
I just can't ride a horse like that ever again. And I doubt I can ever trust Baby Doll again to carry me safely. sigh.

I'd love an Icelandic of a Fjord! I know I'm tall, but if the horse was built stocky, I'd be fine with a shorter horse. As it is now, IF I ever mount Baby Doll I will be using the 3-step mounting stool to get up there....and then it's a long way down. I'm gonna hate that, I know.

Better to have a shorter horse and have people laugh at me, I say. lol!