Riding for a world champion – Stian Pedersen

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This really was the day! I have for a long time wanted to ride for Stian Pedersen, and when the opportunity came, I took it. It isn’t every day you get the chance to ride for a world champion, right? I also got to take advantage of the opportunity to drive a horse trailer with Baldur inside for the first time. And then we traveled over to “Stall SP” to get some insight in what we can do to improve.

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Over: I didn’t know what to expect, but that Stian was going to come driving a four-wheeler with a cowboy hat was not the first thing that came to my mind!

When I arrived at the barn at home in the morning, I started off doing the daily “chores” such as mucking the stall and making feed. After that was done, we grabbed Baldur and brought him inside to be groomed. I fetched all the necessary equipment and loaded it into the car. At around 12, I put on Baldur’s transport leg protectors and loaded Baldur into the trailer. And so my first horse trailer drive with Baldur inside started! It actually went really well, I was driving very carefully, and the horse was calm and relaxed on the trailer!

We arrived in one piece, and I unloaded Baldur. He got another good brush before Stian came and asked me a little bit about Baldur, where he came from and what I was expecting to get out of his lesson. I had literally no expectations at all, I just wanted to learn more of how I can ride Baldur in a better way for us to reach further when it comes to gaited work. We saddled up and walked down to the oval track. Stian wanted me to warm up Baldur how I usually do it, and we took it from there.

Immediately we found out that I am sitting skewed on Baldur when we ride on the left rein, his “bad” side. This made it harder for Baldur to use his body correctly, simply because I am blocking him from doing so, in all ignorance. He loosened up a lot after we corrected my skewed-ness. It will of course not be fixed in 1-2-3, this is something I have to work on continuously for it so feel natural to sit straight. Because right now, sitting skewed feels natural to me. So when I lean more to the left and straighten up, it feels very awkward for me. The only thing to fix this, is to ride more straight and just get used to it and make it the new normal.  

I addition to this, I have to be better at giving with my hands, I tend to get stiff and not letting my hands follow the movements in his head. I think this was the hardest thing to do the entire lesson. It was straight up hard. I know, right? A thing so simple is hard for me to do. I have to learn to lift my hands as I sit down in posting trot. And when Stian told me to do just that, it was like asking me to scratch my head with one hand and stroke my belly with the other – while riding a horse! I was totally confused and felt like I couldn’t do it, but it loosened up after a while. I also have to work with loosening my hips in canter, the same way I loosen when I sit down in trot. One of the reasons I struggle with sitting down in the saddle, is because I stiffen my hips and can’t follow the movements. This also improved very fast!

And I have to brag a little. As if it wasn’t enough that Baldur behaved exemplary, but Stian told me that he very much liked the way I communicate and work with Baldur. For example when we first started cantering, Baldur was very unbalanced, 4-beated and stiff. So instead of me correcting and pushing him, I let him find the canter on his own, and I waited for him to find his own balance. After that, he loosened up and we had a nice rhythm. I also asked if we are ready for competitions soon, and the answer was a clear yes. We are definitely ready now!

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Over: Baldur was very smooth and light in the slow tölt.

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Over: Back to the skewed-ness. I ride Baldur too much to the right, making the saddle slip a little bit to the right and ends up laying on his spine. So I have to start putting more weight in the left stirrup, until it feels normal – when that happens, we are on the right path! 

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Over: During this lesson, I also noticed that it is easier for me to obtain a correct posture when I ride in the Geysir Gold Plus. I feel like I am sitting more correctly!

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Over: This is where we were working on my hands. I literally shouted at Stian “it’s like you are asking me to scratch my head while stroking my belly!” It was very hard to accomplish, my brain almost boiled! 

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Over: I also have to show you the new bridle I bought from Hrimnir. I have been drooling over this bridle for over 6 months, and I finally grabbed myself by the neck and purchased it. I have never in my life bought an “expensive” bridle before, that is why I was thinking about it for so long, but it had to be done! And Baldur fits it so well, don’t you think?

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Over: Here we are showing the fast tölt! Stian gave me a tip to actually speed him up during the short side, or turn, on the oval track instead of speeding him up on the long sides. This will make it easier for the horse!

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I am so pleased with Baldur’s effort in this lesson, he worked like a hero! After the recent visits from our chiropractor Harriet, Baldur’s body has grown in muscle and really taken shape. But he also puts his legs well under himself and stretches them good! So now I am hoping we will be entering the first gaited competition we can, as for now, it looks like we will be entering the Sleipnir club competition – exciting! We have never entered a show in Hamar!

Why chiropractors are so important for horse well-being

For over a year ago, I had my first experience with having a chiropractor on Baldur. You could say that is has opened up a whole new world for me. There was chatter in the barn about a chiropractor coming to visit, and I chose to get a checkup on Baldur, just to make sure that everything was fine.

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When the day came for the chiropractor to visit, I was very excited. I had never experienced something quite like it. It was at this time I had owned Baldur almost a year. I am the kind of person who wants to insure that everything is ok. When it was Baldur’s turn to get a treatment, I watched closely and asked a lot of questions. It turned out that Baldur had some issues connected to the fact that his back is so long, so he needs a checkup from time to time. After the treatment I ended up with a completely new horse, Baldur was a changed horse! He started relaxing immediately, and not least, I felt a big change in his gaits – especially walk. Hen went from having a short, “hard” walk, to being so soft and really longing his strides. That half an hour could this much difference! And I felt insured that my horse was feeling good.

What Baldur struggles with the most, is locking in the croup that makes him skewed. Now, for the last two months, I have had two chiropractic treatments on Baldur. It turns out he was actually having a lot of after-pain from the time we both hit the dirt this winter, but he has done a very good job at hiding the pain, so I never knew. Harriet, as my beloved chiropractor is named, treated him at the end of May this year and she came back a few days ago for a follow-up. Baldur has started using his body more correct, resulting in more muscles in the right places, and his body was looking so much better in comparison to the treatment in May. So yet again, I am ensured that my heart horse is okay.

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But I wanted to use this blog to underline how important it is to check that your horse is doing well body-wise. By my own experience, it can be very hard to even understand that the horse is walking around with pains. Horses are flight animals, and if a predator saw a horse showing signs of being hurt, it would be easily targeted. This is why many horses hide their pain, from instinct. So I would recommend to do a check-up, even if the horse doesn’t seem to have any pain. It doesn’t have to be pain either, it can be discomfort resulting in the horse not using itself correctly.

I would also like to issue that it isn’t just any person that should be treating your horse. Be conscious of who you hire to treat your horse. Does this person have proof of their education? What type, how much and where was the education taken? It is important to be very critical to whom you chose to treat your horse. If it is someone who isn’t skilled, it can do more harm than use.

“But my horse doesn’t hurt!” How do you know that? Your horse can’t simply tell you that he is hurting or if something is wrong, and many horses don’t even want to show that they are hurting at all. Baldur was “normal” when I decided to give him his first treatment. But what I thought was normal for Baldur, wasn’t normal at all. After experiencing first hand how much of a difference it made to my horse after just one treatment, I don’t think I will ever stop giving him these treatments, because I have experienced myself how big of a difference it makes.

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Having chiropractic treatments on your horse doesn’t just help if your horse has discomfort, it can also help to prevent injuries that could arise at later occasions. Prevention is so important, because when the damage is already done, it is suddenly gets way more expensive to fix. I would dare claim to say that chiropractic treatments works almost as an insurance to prevent damages based on muscles and bones. If you have an opportunity to prevent damages on your horse, I would definitely do anything in my power to ensure that my horse is going to be sound both now and in the future.

I would absolutely recommend all horse owners to have at least one treatment on their horse. If you are sure about the well-being of your horse, check anyways, if you haven’t already. It is extremely important that the horse body is sound for the horse to be able to function optimally and to perform their best. And for all the reasons in the world, prevent if you can!

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Finishing off this post with a picture of Baldur and his beloved chiropractor, Harriet.

Baldur’s relationship with water

I think both me and Baldur have some unresolved arguments when it comes to going to the beach and into the water. Baldur was never really in love with water when I first started to lease him, but I on the other hand, love the water. So of course, I try to make him like it too. The thing is, Baldur is an insecure type.

Baldur scares easily, and he doesn’t like to be put in positions where he thinks there could be danger. One of the first things I noticed with Baldur when we were in water, was the fact that he is scared because he can’t see his feet. This was proven when I started stroking his feet underwater, and he freaked like a baby. He rose on his back feet and tried to get away, almost like me when I walk into seaweed(I hate seaweed).

So after this, I have basically been trying my best to make the water a good place for him. I can ride him a little bit in the water, but both me and Baldur feel more safe when I am in the water with him. He usually tries to cling to me and becomes a little too pushy, but he usually back off when I’ve had enough. He is also the type of horse who thinks it is so much fun to splash water, and then gets scared because it splashes too much.

Today was no exception. We started off riding, and it ended with me jumping into the water with him. The water was actually quite nice, even though it is in a Norwegian fjord. The sun kept us warm and the water’s temperature was just right. We didn’t get to go as far out for a swim as I wanted to, because the tide was too far up to reach the deep parts of the beach.

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Q&A – Instagram asks

To get a little kick start on this blog, I thought it would be a good idea to do a Q&A so that you all can get to know me and Baldur a little better. So I asked my followers on Instagram to ask me whatever they were wondering, and here is the result! I also want to give a big thanks to everyone who sent in questions, there well over 30 questions from different people!


What’s the one thing that makes Baldur special to you? – Question by @simon.seljak

Well, to be honest he is a very weird horse. He is very fragile(mentally) and he needs to be treated accordingly. But he is also the sweetest horse on earth. He is special to me because he has taught me so much over a few year. Especially being patient and working hard to achieve goals. He may not be an educated horse, but he has definitely educated me through the years!

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My question is a bit more personal, about something specific with my horse; we are trying liberty so whenever I walk, he follows. Which is great, but when I turn the the inside, he ignores me and walks right past me, cutting me off. He doesn’t know he’s doing anything wrong, because I haven’t corrected this, I don’t know how. Do you have any tips for me? – Question by @carino.and.me

If Baldur did this to me, I would first start working on stop and start while following. For example, if you can feel your horse is going to walk past you, try to let him know you want him to stop as well. A simple “whoa” or whatever cue you use to slow him down, now is the time to use it. Not after he has passed you, but before he does it. If he stops, reward him massively, if not, try again! I am sure your horse does not do this to be rude, he just doesn’t know what you want. And if this does not work, start using a halter with a lead, and slightly hold him back if he tried to pass you, then give treat when he stops. And when he gets it, move on to doing it without the lead, then without the halter and so on! I hope this helps!

I do wonder how Baldur’s training schedule looks like, how long you train, what you do together. I also wonder what you’re favorite trick is and what Baldur’s favorite trick is and what his favorite snack is. – Question by @kittygulloy

Baldur’s training schedule depends on what we are planning to do, and where we are. Earlier this year, we would have jumping lessons once a week or twice a month, as our focus was to get ready for show jumping competition. We would also do dressage 2-3 times a week and the rest is hacks and a day or two off. This was in Hamar, and we have been in Ålesund for almost two months now. We have not been jumping, only doing dressage, gaited and hacks. My interests have moved to gaited competitions, so we are doing our best to prepare for the competitions we want to enter this fall! Of course we always fit in some trick training and free riding once a week.

My favorite trick is the rear, I know many people dislike the rear, but I love the action as well as this tricks helps Baldur to activate and use his back and haunches. I believe Baldur’s favorite trick is the smile or kiss! After I taught him to kiss, he has become less head shy and he seems so much more social towards people. He really opened up after I taught him this trick. Baldur’s favorite snack is apple flavored treats!

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What was it that made you buy Baldur? – Question by @ridingwithunicorns and @sarasnikon

I had leased Baldur for almost a year when his owner announced the was selling off some of her horses. I was desperate because I knew I was not allowed to purchase a horse, and I had literally fallen head over heels in love with him. So I spent a week trying to convince my parents to let me buy him. After a lot of back and forth, they agreed that I could purchase him. They did not help me financially, I managed to pay everything on my own, and I have done so for almost 3 years now.

For how long have you been riding and did you have any special reasons for starting it? – Question by @ck.carla

I have been riding since I was 8 years old in 2004. The only reason I started to ride that late was because that’s when my parents thought I was “old enough” to start taking lessons. I had literally been nagging them forever to start riding horses.

I would like to know more about the traits of Icelandic horses, or at least that of Baldur. I’ve always been fascinated with the breed. – Question by @zarasmile72

Well, the biggest trait of the Icelandic horse is the fact that they can have up to 5 different gaits. As well as they are very powerful, and easily carry a grown man. They are pony-sized, but they fall under the horse category because of how they are built and the fact that they can carry so much weight. And as a bonus, Icelandic horses can have all coat colors in the world! Some are more rare than others, though. I am especially in love with the silver dapple blacks!

Is baldur a 4 or 5 gaiter? And do you often train the gaits or do more dressage and jumping and such? What has your biggest struggle been with Baldur? – Question by @demixwodanxevax

Baldur is a five-gaiter, but we only use four gaits on him. He hasn’t been taught to pace properly,  both because of my interest, and because the last gait(pace) can ruin his other good gaits. So we are keeping it at four for now.

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Gaited versus show jumping? – Question by @team_emblaogthor

Definitely gaited!

How did you get your coorperation with Lukar Norge? – Question by @tinkythetinker

They actually had a photo contest on hest.no that I participated. I came in contact with them through that, and I was offered to be their ambassador.

Did you always want an Icelandic Horse? – Question by @tinkythetinker

No way! I used to be very stuck-up when it came to Icelandics. I believed they were just some furry, useless ponies with useless gaits. It wasn’t until I met Baldur that my beliefs changed!

How did you start riding? – Question by @mette_and_ketill

I started riding as soon as my parents let me take lessons!

Are you planning on selling Baldur? – Question by @julieogmari

Absolutely not, I would never plan on selling him. And if I ever sold him, it would be if it was the last option in the world.

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What are your future goals with Baldur? – Question by @tonii_023

My future goal with Baldur is to start competing gaited again, and my absolute goal is to get a character total of 6 in competition(so far we have reached 5,40).

What kind of camera do you use? – Question by @leonie242431 and @hanne.melbye

The camera I use for my photos is the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

When did you meet Baldur? – Question by @silje.gulbrandsen

My first encounter with Baldur was January 12th of 2015!

How long have you had Baldur? – Question by @saraogbalder and @eq_ruutaa

It has been 2,5 years since I started leasing him, but I have almost owned him for two years now! Our anniversary is right around the corner!

Your best tips for getting an Icelandic in shape? Recently got a new Icelandic home, that’s quite fat, and I would love to have him looking as nice as Baldur! – Question by @klara.rindeberg

Thank you for that! My number one tip is do not give your horse more feed than he needs! Too often I see owners give their horses much more feed than the horse needs, causing the horse to over-feed and get fat. Getting a horse that is over-feeding fit, just makes the job so much harder for both you and the horse. Tip number two is to be consistent in the training. I would rather see a horse being used 20 minutes each day, than 1 hour hard training a few times a week. Mountain climbing is also a goldmine! Climbing helps the horse build and use muscles that it won’t use in a training ring. So going for a hack or climb every other day is recommended!

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How high is Baldur? And how did it all start with you two? – Question by @icelandic_horse_kiljan

Baldur is 146cm tall, approximately 14.3 hands high. It all started kind of random, because I was looking around for horses to ride(by horses I mean big horses, ala warmbloods and etc). I came in contact with Baldur’s previous owner, and she wondered if I wanted to try out Baldur. I actually turned her down at first, but after thinking it through, I agreed to meet them. And this is how it all started.

What made you want to start riding gaited? – Question by @united.equestriian

When I started riding Baldur, there were mostly just Icelandic horse riders at the stable he was at. So I naturally joined them in riding, and it spiked my interest for gaited, and I was soon interested in starting competitions.

How old is Baldur? – Question by @sofie.and.rebell

Baldur is 12 years now, born June 15th in 2005!

What is the best thing about Baldur? Is Baldur your first Icelandic horse? – Question by @tallintarinoita

The best thing about Baldur is definitely his personality. I have never come across a horse like him. And of course, a bonus is that he grunts like a pig! Baldur is not only my first Icelandic horse, he is my very first horse!

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What stable are you staying at now? And are you happy with your progress with Baldur? – Question by @christineogbwana

We are staying at a stable called “Stall Sætre” right now, but in August we are heading back to Hamar and staying at “Stallen i Rognstad” in Stange. Yes, I am thrilled with how far we have come! Especially since I was at the brink of quitting him in the start, it was the worst. But we have learned together and I believe we have grown a lot. So I am very happy with how far we have come!

When did you start riding Icelandic horses? – Question by @_.liiviia._

I rode my first Icelandic horse in 2012, when I leased Logi. But he only had his three gaits, so I never got to experience tölt on him. It was not until I started to ride Baldur that I first got to know the tölt!

How high have you and Baldur jumped? – Question by @mette_and_ketill

Me and Baldur have together jumped 1m10, but he has loose jumped 1m20 and I have jumped 1m20 with another horse!

If you got permission to ride tackless at a show, would you do it? – Question by @lene_olesen

Oh yes, I would! But of course with a lot more training and preparing, if we were just to go right now, we would probably fail terribly!

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Can Baldur lie down on command? If not, would you want to teach him this? – Question by @naturtoelter

No, he cannot! But we are currently working on it. It is taking a lot of time, since Baldur does not trust anyone around him when he is down, but he does sort of understand what I want. He laid down for me around 8-9 times the last time we worked on this!

How long did it take you to learn to ride without tack? – Question by @zarasmile72

I have been riding bareback for as long as I can remember, so removing the bridle was not really a problem to me when it comes to balance. Baldur is a strange horse to ride bareback, his trot is very bouncy and hard to sit, so we are working on that as well. But when it comes to give directions tackless, I learned through Baldur. He taught me alot, and I am still learning. We started from the ground and worked our way up. We are not perfect, but we try our best!

If you could intern under one person, who would you choose? – Question by @bandfreaxx

Good question! I would absolutely love to intern under Kathy Sierra(@intrinzen on Instagram) or maybe Anna Marciniak(@onehorselife_official on Instagram). These two are amazing at what they do, and being able to learn just a fraction of what they know would be a dream!

Testing the Geysir Gold Plus

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A little while back, Skoies horse equipment had a Facebook campaign where they were searching for a rider to be a test pilot for their new saddle, the Eques Black. When I learned about this, I of course sent in an application, and I waited in patience. Some time later, Skoies announced that they had picked out a rider(not me) to test out the saddle.

But a few moments after, I received a mail from Skoies where they told me that because they liked my application so much, and what I do with Baldur, they decided to have to test riders instead! And that is how I ended up with testing the Geysir Gold Plus.

I received the saddle in the mail about a week ago. It is custom fitted to fit perfectly to Baldur, and I think they have done a great job! I have used the saddle about 3-4 times now, and it is still growing on me! It feels like the saddle is just getting better and better each time we use it. The seat is deep and the support is great! And to be honest, I think I have a better posture in this saddle. Not that my posture is good, it’s just not as bad.

The reason I was a little skeptical in the start of trying this saddle, is because it is very different from the Draupnir SP that I already have had for over a year. So it was a new experience for me to ride in the Geysir Gold Plus, but as I mentioned earlier, it is growing on me!

I will of course keep you guys updated on the saddle front, and I will try to get some videos in action! Some of you have repeatedly requested videos showing Baldur’s different gaits and how we work out, so I am hoping to make that happen very soon!

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As you can see above, this saddle gives massive support!

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Tackless sunset workout

Today was a good day! It has been a while since we have touched the neck rope, the last few times we have gone completely tackless. Baldur has been acting so calm lately, and it really showed today. He was very relaxed and listened to my signals.  Of course, the weather this summer has been absolutely terrible, it has been raining non-stop for weeks. So when the sun finally decides to show, we have to take full advantage of the opportunity!

I believe and hope that Baldur had just as much fun as me. I let him use his body the way he wanted, but I of course encourage him to lower his head and activate his back. Sometimes he wants to, sometimes he doesn’t. I certainly didn’t feel the need to push him today as he was so relaxed and well behaved. So we ended it on a good note instead of trying to push it.

Oh! And I almost forgot to mention that I do make these neckropes, and I do make them to sell as well. So if you are interested in buying, just send me a message and let me know!

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