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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Icy Icelandics

I griped about how some of the traditional Icelandic things were just plain silly, but this video takes the cake.

Here's a line up of Icelandic ponies getting ready to race on ice. I personally think ice racing is stupid. It's a poor surface for the ponies' feet and legs. It increases the risk of damage in a fall.

Not only do these riders stupidly want to race on ice, but they are totally unprepared to get their ponies out after they fall in. Can you imagine the problem if the water hadn't been shallow enough for the ponies to stand? Where's the fricking crane or truck to get them out. This video is over 7 minutes long. 7 minutes in icy water is not pleasant on the best day.

Another thought that occured to me: Despite all of my bitching about showing it's a general practice that people who show demand safe groomed surfaces. I can't imagine taking my horse out on ice and not being assured beyond a shadow of doubt that it was going to hold up.

Tradition be damned, this crap is dangerous for the ponies!


EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

All I knew about icelandics is that they are gaited, they have a lot of hair, they are short and when you come up on them on trails they are always in groups and going super fast.

I suppose they are about the closest to a four wheeler a person can get and still own a horse.

Anywho, now I know they race them on ice (WTF) and obviously don't check the thickness of the ice (WTF).

GoLightly said...

They are in ICEland??
Global warming at it's most foolish??


JJ said...

Do you know if they check the ice beforehand? Was this just an oversight or is this something that may be common?

Either way, it is pretty ridiculous. Why do you need to race on ice? I am not sure how those ponies are built, but I know that if I were to trot my horse on some ice his legs wouldn't be feeling very nice after.

Anonymous said...

I have to be honest: I find that Icies are some of the best little horses out there IF you get a good one. They are powerhouses on the trail and have amazing stamina. They are a wonderfully smooth ride as well. I have ridden with two on several large rides here in AZ. They were some of the calmest and most sure-footed horses I've ever come across. They never refused an obstacle and always listened to their rider. My husband's horse is a 17-hand TWH and his normal walk is really fast, so we always put him in front. A 12-hand Icie on the ride came up to ride right alongside him, barely breaking a sweat. My husband's horse gave him quite the double-take, but once he figured out the little guy was just hanging out, he went right on moving along. It was something else. Those two actually became buddies and would search each other out on the ride the next day.

But I must be honest: you have to really look to find a good one. Both of these Icies were older and had miles upon miles of riding on them in all kinds of terrain and conditions with all different levels of riders. Plus they were well trained. These folks rode them well and were not hard on them. I have also met otehrs that have found really great Icies of the same caliber as these two were. So you have to be careful in getting an Icie, just like with any breed, but they are worth the high price tag when you find a good one.

The horses can race on ice and wear special shoes to do so. As far as I understand, before it was an official breed, Icies were used to traverse long distances over frozen ponds and lakes and other slippery conditions in Iceland. Their short stature and sure-footedness is what kept them from slipping and sliding. The wooly coats cover a thick skin, which helps them to be able to cope better if they do end up in cold waters.

I actually would own an Icie, but I know they're hard to keep in AZ with those thick coats. And I can't afford one because I'd want a well-trained one, and that's a high price tag for me. I'd be tempted to spend that on a quality, naturally-trained show TWH!

Concerning the video, I thought the same thing JJ did: was this incident an oversight on their part? Overall, it seems extremely silly NOT to check for thickness.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the slow-motion of them fallig in the ice...YEAH. Freaked me out. Already saw it once, don't need to see it again with the sound slowed down and dragged out like some crappy disaster film.

Anonymous said...

Okay, last post...

Is anyone else reminded of Artax in The Neverending Story when watching that gray horse try to get out? :( I still cry at that part in the movie!

My other thought: why are so many of them pulling on those reins and risking damage to the horse's mouths? For crying out loud, take the bridles off and put a halter on the horse before you start dragging on it!

Cut-N-Jump said...

I didn't watch the video as everything electronic has been video challenged lately, but thickness and traction aside, ice is a damned hard surface.

Racing on it? Yeah, just ask Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, or Belmont to resurface their tracks in concrete.

That should get plenty of takers!

Cut-N-Jump said...

GL-Good one!

Cut-N-Jump said...

Kat- I'll look up the breeder we hauled for in Valley Center, CA for you. She had some well trained 'larger' Icy's. Pricing? You're on your own... I promise not to tell your hubby!

The last one we hauled for her went to Idaho. Just outside Pocatello. Spotted mare, cute and easy to handle.

That was part of our 7 states in 5 days, road trip. Much fun.

wolfandterriers said...

All I can think is "shock". Hopefully the poor things came out ok.

Tuffy Horse said...

Oh those poor ponies!

Tracy m

photogchic said...

Yikes..check that ice people! I guess my problem isn't so much with racing on the ice. I think the breed is know for its ability to function on ice. Growing up in MN the lakes had blown snow on top and it is very easy to run, drive, whatever on. My problem lies with the fact that had the water been deeper, they would have lost their horses. They seemed ill prepared to handle the situation.

Trainer X said...

That is by far one of the stupidest things I have seen.... Bunch of A-Holes... We have the eOmak Suicide Race here in Washington and believe me... they are A-holes too!!!!

I Hate Your Horse

Tuffy Horse said...

I was concerned by the water depth too! If it had been any deeper the ponies would have drowned. I know horses can swim well, but they can't swim endlessly in freezing water.

Tracy M

Anonymous said...

Oh great, thanks for tempting me, CNJ!

Polly said...

They were not racing the horses. They were demonstrating a slow toelt in formation on the ice for a television program. The thickness of the ice was tested and adequate. The reason the ice broke was because they all went next to each other in the same gait and at the same speed which made the ice swing and break. You can make a bridge crash if you walk across it with a large group of people stepping in unison (which is why soldiers crossing a bridge do not cross in unison). The lake is less than 3 ft deep and the horses were taken out of the lake within a very short time as people did not wait for a crane (which would have been too heavy anyway) and jumped into the water lifting the horses out. None of the horses were injured and they were dried and warmed with heating lamps afterwards.

GoLightly said...

The ice was pretty obviously inadequate. Wouldn't you test for such a contingency, first?
Iceland is suffering from the climate changes we all face.

Guess it'll be ThawLand, before long?

OldMorgans said...

Wow, an amazing video. I wonder if that was a sanctioned event of any kind or just a bunch of people getting together to race. In any case, someone sure forgot to check the ice--a huge and life-threatening mistake. As a testament to the breed's temperament, all the horses, once they discovered they could stand, stopped thrashing and just stood there. Who were those guys in black who were getting halters on them instead of pulling on the bits and had straps for going around their rear ends and who got into the water with them? They did a good job.
Ice racing has a long history. It used to be popular in the 1800's in the northern part of this country and Canada. That was usually harness racing on the ice tho and the horses had special shoes for the ice.
I see nothing inherently evil about ice racing. BUT--the ice needs to be checked out by a competent person to ensure it can hold the weight of a bunch of horses and riders. That is so basic it should not be necessary to say it. However, this bunch needs to be beat upside the head with that thought.


ZTIG said...

thank you for the information that cleared up quite a bit and made sense. I must admit the video made me cry. You could hear the desperation in their voices even if you couldn't understand them as they fought to get the ponies out.
An ill advised trip across the ice, I think.

Mikolaj said...

Polly - Just wow. Tested and adequete? I'm not quite sure where your logic seems to have been fished from, but if THREE FEET of water isn't frozen solid, STAY THE HELL OFF IT. That's your first freaking clue that it's not cold/frozen enough to support any amount of mass weight.

Epic science class FAIL.

Anyone who actually defends such an obviously preventable situation needs to give their head a shake. It's not the ice I have an issue with, it's the blatantly obvious lack of planning that lead to such a needless situation. I suppose you're going to find a way to defend them yanking and hauling on the poor horses bits next? Because all horses are going to be able to get out from someone yanking on their face.


missmix said...

OMG How horrible to put those ponies through that. did any of them live after getting so cold and hypothermia? If they ever try that again they should all be jailed.

KayƩ said...

I saw that on animal planet - they didn't actually check the ice and the part where they fell in was only two inches thick and couldn't hold all the ponies.