Iceland Trip- part four

This will finish off day two of my trip to Iceland. This was the longest day of our tour. After Gullfoss waterfall, we hurried to Frioheimer a tomato greenhouse and horse farm.

The weather is not conducive to growing very many vegetables and no fruit because while they may have almost 23 hours of sunlight in the summer months the temperature never gets much above 65 degrees which makes it hard to grow much of anything. However they have learned to use the geothermal hot springs that are nearly all over the island to not only provide hot water and electricity for towns but it also works for greenhouses.

At Frioneimer greenhouse we learned how the hot water not only heats the greenhouses but also provides the water for the plants. The tomato plants are started in intervals to have tomatoes ripening all year round. The roots seedlings are started and then transplanted into long rectangular dirt pouches that are placed evenly spaced to allow for new plants to be placed in between them as the older ones start producing less. The plants are trained to grow up with strings. Bumble bees are used to pollinate the plants. They were flying around as we were instructed on how the greenhouse ran and we were able to look into a hive box.

The greenhouse grows salad tomatoes, cherry or grape tomatoes, and plum tomatoes. They also had flowers, a dining area, and served us bloody Marys as well as gave us samples of the tomatoes.

From the greenhouse we were given an exhibition of the Icelandic horse. These horses are less than 14 hands high but sturdy, like a small draft horse or haflinger. They were brought to the island by the Norsemen and have never been bred with any other horse breed, so they are a pure breed. The Icelanders are very proud of their horse. While there are only 350,000 people on the island, there are 80,000 horses. They are used for meat, by farmers to gather their sheep from the upper country in the fall, and ridden for pleasure. They also have competitions showing off the 5 gaits. These horses are said to be the only horse that has 5 gaits. They walk, trot, gallop and have a four-beat lateral ambling gait known as the tölt. And on the upper end of the gaits they have what is called a pace or “flying pace”.  This is fast and smooth, with some horses able to reach up to 30 miles per hour.

While the horse that was ridden to show us the gaits had some spunk and personality, the ones standing in stalls in the barns appeared asleep and aloof. Visiting the horses was nice. They were the perfect size and while they are sold all over the world, once a horse leaves the island they cannot return. The horses are not vaccinated because they never leave and don’t com in contact with diseases.

After the horses we traveled on to Skalholt, a Church of Iceland cathedral that had a role in the history and literature of Iceland.

After the church we arrived at Hveragerdi and the Skygeroin skyr factory. We watched a video about skyr, how it is a national food. We were served skyr in its natural state, I thought it had the consistency of cream cheese but was sour. Then they gave us a thinner version with sugar and strawberry. It was good! And a third with the same type of skyr but with a berry liquor and a blueberry. Then we had dinner and returned to REykjavik. Day two was finished. It was a long day. We’d visited and saw a lot and were excited for the next day.

That will be in my next post.

Christmas at Valentine’s by Paty Jager

Blaze

Two weeks before Christmas my hubby told me my Christmas present would be a new horse. I’d sold Bud, the gelding I’d had since he was born because he wasn’t fun to ride. I know most of the problem was me, but I wanted a horse I could get on and ride, not spend the little time I had to ride, making him pay attention and do what I asked.

A wise long time cowgirl told me to get rid of Bud and find one I could go out and ride without a hassle. I took her advice and sold Bud. And the funny thing, you’d think having a horse for 18 years I would have been sad, but I was so frustrated about not being able to ride when I wanted to that it was almost a relief.

After hubby told me to start looking for a horse, I began searching the paper and Craigslist in our area and a little beyond. Of course, the horses I would have liked were out of the price range hubby was willing to go. I love paints and appaloosas.

I did go ride two paints that were at the top of his price range. The first one I’m pretty sure the people had either drugged it or had worked the tar out of it before I got on. There were four horses, two that the man and his son had rode and the two they’d brought down for me to try. (They had ridden down a hill to meet me saying my car wouldn’t make it up to where they lived)

Me and Blaze

The paint I was interested in was soaking wet with sweat. The other one they had for sale was half wet and the ones they were riding were barely sweating. The paint’s head was down, his eyes half closed and his ears weren’t perked up. They put my saddle on him and I rode for about twenty minutes up in the hill with the son. The horse stumbled a little and tried walking under trees.

The other horse I wasn’t even interested in when I saw the high withers. We already have Jammer who has high withers and is hard to blanket up to keep the saddle from rubbing her withers.

I told the man I’d talk it over with hubby, but I’d made up my mind I wasn’t interested by the time I arrived at my destination.

Then Hubby and I went to Walla Walla to try out another paint. He was cute and the right height. But he had really round withers and the saddle wouldn’t stay tight. He also liked to whirl around backwards when he was scared. Not good for this person who has inner ear crystal problems.

Then my daughter sent me a link on Craigslist to a gelding only 2 hours from where we live. He’s not a paint but he looked sweet and my size.

Blaze

Hubby and I went there last Friday and I am now the proud owner of Blaze. He is an 11 year-old gelding that is the perfect height, he is friendly, and when we get some decent weather, I’ll see how well he does riding out on his own. I’ve been going down every day, brushing and messing with him with the saddle, bridle and leading him around. The weather is a mess to try and ride with snow and ice everywhere.

I’ll keep you updated on how Blaze and I get along. I’m looking forward to going on trail rides with my daughter and grandchildren.

Waiting for Winter & a Horse

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our hill 

We had about 6 inches of snow in December that stayed around until a week before Christmas. Leaving us with a brown holiday. No sledding, no building snowmen. It has been brown ever since.

 

Hubby was getting excited when we had several weather reports for snow. However, they didn’t happen. He is now skeptical about any talk of snow in the forecast.

We need the snow. Or warm up and rain like the dickens. In SE Oregon we are very dry.  It will be a hot, fire wary summer if we don’t get more moisture soon.

My Christmas gift from hubby is a horse. The only problem is I am having trouble finding one. I need a horse that is around 15 years old or a bit older, 14-15 hands, been ridden so much that no matter if I ride once a week, once a month or every day, it will behave. I also need one that will be able to go on an all day trail ride.

The daughter who moved down the road this past summer plans to take me on trail rides once a week or at least twice a month. I love trail riding. So the horse has to be able to physically go up and down hills and spend the day walking with me on its back.

appaloosa stallion
Appaloosa

I would like a gelding. I’ve had too many issues with mares. But I’m willing to look at a mare if it has a mellow attitude. I’ve been combing the sale ads. I found a great mare, but the people never responded when I contacted them to look at her. I wish people would take down ads if the horse has sold or at least text you back with sold.  Common courtesy is so hard to find these days.

Horse
Paint

My ideal horse would be Appaloosa, paint, or dun/buckskin. I like horses that have interesting color. But if it’s the right size, attitude, and health, oh, and also price, I won’t worry about the color.

Buckskin horse
Buckskin

Growing up I had a sorrel buckskin mare that I loved! She never had an attitude, went wherever I wanted to go, and came when I called her. She was a good 15-16 hands and beautiful.  I rode her a lot bareback and I was barefoot. LOL We’d cross the Lostine River and head up on the side of the mountain. I’d lay on her back looking up at the sun shining through the cottonwood and aspen trees as she walked along.  I’d spend hours out riding her in the summer.  Sometimes my younger brother rode with me and we’d go all over the hills and mountain side.

I’ve never been one to like riding around in arenas. I only ran my horse when we would race in the lane. A trot was to catch up if I’d been gawking and fell behind.

If you have a horse, what color and breed is it? If you don’t what color or breed do you think is pretty?