About my horses

Hugrokk of Oakwood (Hug to her friends) is a fifteen year old Icelandic Horse.

Hugrokk means brave in Icelandic and this little horse was certainly named very appropriately by her breeders! She is tremendously intelligent and a truely wonderful teacher as she is insistant that things need to be done slowly, softly, consistently and precisely. She is not one to fill in gaps or guess what it is that you might have meant! She is independent and a very secure horse in herself. The Icelandic people say that the landscape in Iceland is harsh and these horses have adapted to be strong in mind and body.

I started Hug about when she was five and she is the most reliable trail horse I have ever met as well as being a constant companion as I experiment with Mark Rashid's work and teaching, always showing me when I am on the right tracks (or not!). Hug and I do endurance riding, jumping and dressage.

She was born in the UK but her Dam was imported from Iceland (Fjola fra Ytri-Hofdolum) and her Sire was born in the UK (Drifandi from Oakwood).
Photo by Matthew Roberts from The BHS Book of the Natural Horse, available April 2008

A bit about the Icelandic Horse...
The history of the Icelandic horse can be traced all the way back to the settlement of the country in the late 9th century. Vikings who settled in Iceland brought with them their horses of various origins. Most likely the horses were from Scandinavia , Britain (breeds similar to the Exmoor pony and Shetland pony) as well as German breeds.

Due to the isolation of Iceland , this stock remained pure while it was crossbred elsewhere in Europe . Most interestingly Icelandic horses are gaited which means that the do not only have walk, trot and canter but also show either tolt (4 gaited horses) or tolt and pace (5 gaited horses). Whether they are 4 or 5 gaited depends on their confirmation. Many people think that different gaits are something new to horse breeding but that is not correct, the horses that the Vikings brought to Iceland would have been gaited, such as the Zelter from medieval Germany . While the gaits have been bred out of almost all of our European breeds they have been retained in the Icelandic horse. This make then tremendously good fun to ride and learning to ride the additional gaits is pretty challenging!

For centuries, the horse was the only means of transportation in Iceland as well as being the most important working animal in the days before machinery. Although the car's arrival in Iceland changed all this, enthusiastic individuals continue to breed very good horses. Today, there are around 80,000 horses in Iceland , no small number for a country with 270,000 inhabitants! Most horses in Iceland today are used for leisure and competition.

Because of Iceland 's geographic isolation, the Icelandic horse has remained virtually disease-free so far. To keep it that way no import of horses, or other livestock is allowed. As a result, the World Championships can never be held in the home country of the Icelandic horse and if Icelandic horses compete they can never return.

There are around 100,000 Icelandic horses abroad, most in Europe but also a growing number in the United States and Canada. Germany and Scandinavia have the largest number of Icelandic horses, with close to 50,000 horses along with active riding clubs and breeding societies. There are between 500 and 750 Icelandic horses in the UK.

Binley Sparkling Gilt

Sparkle came to join us on New Year's Eve 2007 when she was 7 and a half months old from Caroline Sussex at Binley Arabian Stud, she is 100% Crabbet Arabian. Right from the outset she proved to be a carm and sensible character and has been an absolute delight to work with and to back. I backed her in Spring 2012 and she is coming along brilliantly.

Sparkle foal