Recently BHS Scotland ran a number of Safety events, again reminding us that a few common sense measurements may make all the difference when it matter most. So, this might be a good time to remind members to stay safe when out riding.  Go for it – it’s isi! 
Identification of rider and horse Here are some very basics things you can do to protect yourself and your horse:
  • carry ID on yourself
  • carry contract details on your horse (dog tag or luggage/key fob attached to the saddle)
  • display emergency contract details on your trailer or lorry
  • carry insurance details in your vehicle

Also check your hat for wear and tear and remember: the best make of hat is the one that fits your head properly.
Driving and Transporting 

Make sure that your vehicle is fit to pull the trailer, and remember to service your trailer (includes checking the floorboards) once a year. 
Do you know what to do in the event of a breakdown? You may want to consider joining one of these.
Horse Accidents 
Too horrible to contemplate? Maybe! But at least check out your own area, and encourage your fellow riders to report accidents to this website: www.horseaccidents.org.uk 
Any data collected here to help bring changes in the law in areas such as the Highway Code.  Common types of accidents are caused by:
  • traffic 
  • dog attacks
  • low flying aircraft/helicopters 
Cross drains!!!! 
Cross-drains are a commonly used versatile drainage feature used to shed water off a path or track. They are used in many environments including forestry, open hill and in and around buildings and animal handling facilities. The majority of cross drains are readily visible and pose no problem for horses. 
But – recently three accidents happened locally involving metal-lipped cross drains that trapped hooves and legs. These resulted in two degloving injuries from which equines recovered after long periods of recuperation, and one broken leg which resulted in a horse being euthanised. 
The BHS is very keen that riders record any incidents involving cross drains onwww.horseaccidents.org.uk and especially report the type of cross drain, and circumstances of where the incident occurred. However, it is very important to emphasise that under the law, it is always the riders’ responsibility to negotiate any obstacle – obvious or not - with care. 

For a full presentation on the issues above plus more visit:http://www.bhsscotland.org.uk/safety.html

Loftur and Gerpla, parents of Vordis, below
Facebook? WorldFengur? Hmm, I quite like FB, but nothing beats WF when it comes to tracing connections! Below you find the story of Alison, her faithful Ómi, and that very elegant homebred mare Vordis. Of course, I had to look this up - and lo and behold, Vordis' father, Loftur, is a very special horse in our family. There was me looking for my first Icelandic horse in the winter of 2003. We did as we were told, and went here and there to try out as many different horses as we could manage. I say ´we´... the horse was supposed to be for me, but Jeremy, who had only just started to ride (5 lessons), came along wherever this search took me. One of the places for Pentland Hills, and Jill kindly invited us for a ride in the hills. There was me, concentrating on a possible mount, and Jeremy - on Loftur. The Pentlands are wild and steep, and very soon you are on top of the world. Up, up, up we rode, faster and faster - and finally a quick canter to the very roof of the world. When we arrived, breathless and exhilarated, Jill turned round to Jeremy, asking, if he had ever done any canter? There was only one answer: of course, now he has! 
Needless to say, Jeremy got his own "first" Icelandic not so very long after that! (GMS) 

Ómi and Vordis enjoying the winter sun
Just over 20 years ago, Alison bought Ómi, a 3 year old gelding from Pentland Hills, unaware  that  this would be the beginning of a life-long relationship – and, not without its drama. Ómi turned out to be a competent and reliable riding horse, and he was also quite good at driving. But after 6 years Alison decided to start breeding, and  - yes, you can have too many horses… So Ómi found a new home, and soon afterwards Alison had a beautiful filly playing in her paddock. Vordis is still around, and so is Ómi! When he was 16, circumstances conspired that he ended up back with Alison, where he has been ever since. He's now 23 and still the same as ever. They ride out as much as time allows. Alison used to think that she wanted something a bit more challenging than, him but in the past few years the traffic has often made her really appreciate his calm manner and reliability, which is second to none!

It has been agreed that every km towards Berlin will count. That includes not only ridden but also driven distances. And what could be better than driving towards an unknown destination in the company of faithful Ómi. (AF/GMS)

While our ride on Tuesday 2nd October only added about 1 km to the ‘ride to Berlin; (and to be honest that is just an estimate), it was a very special kilometer for Catriona and Hofsi. This is because the BBC were filming scenes for an episode of Case Histories (starring Jason Isaacs – Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter) at Windy Gowl. So this kilometer consisted of the same hundred meters over and over again!
In the first piece of filming, Cat had to lead Hofsi out of the indoor school and across the yard perhaps 10 or 15 times, while filming was taking place at all angles. Next, a variety of groups of riders were required to ride about in the background from the yard into the shed, and another group from the road into the yard (including Cat and Hofsi and myself on Vinka). Shooting took all day, and the horses were very well behaved, considering we kept taking them to places where they could reasonable expect that we would get off and feed them – sooner or later!
 I'm not sure the BBC were prepared for the laughter when we were asked to make the horses move more quietly (how?). It was a long day but luckily not (very) rainy. All the equipment was amazing, and the horses just looked at it as if they'd always been asked to walk past large bright lights, while stepping over cables, walking toward a large flapping tarpaulin strung up like a trampoline. We had lunch at a distinctly un-glamourous kitchen set up in the back of a lorry, with seating on a double decker bus; everyone mixed in and the real actors were friendly, and seemed happy to meet the horses. Jason Isaacs even rode one of the Iceys a little.
A day to remember!
Kim Willoughby

A local yard recently advertised a sponsored ride in aid of horses for horses, the initiative has been picked up across the world and riders from a number of countries have supported the scheme.
The ride gave a few of us a great excuse to up our miles towards the Ride to Berlin as well as a great chance to catch up with other Icelandic riders. Our arrival was met with some astonishment and a few smiles from other horse owners on the yard, however some of the participants on big horses who we had met at other rideouts nodded in our direction with some respect and advised these onlookers, “they travel in packs  at speed!”
And so off we set the Icelandic Horde, in beautiful sun to cover 10 miles around the outskirts of Aberdeen, through forests, across busy roads, alongside a football match and a golf course. The site of the pack certainly turned heads and grabbed the attention of those we met. The ride reminded me of why I love the Icelandic, the thrill of the speed and in great company which included a son of Iceland who also enjoyed the reminder of home, albeit in more suburban surroundings!  The day was rounded off with a BBQ, content we have travelled a bit closer to Berlin. 

The picture shows Shona and her mare Skák

Have you heard of www.onhorsesforhorses.org, a very "simple" (and very hard working!) fundraising initiative, started in 2011, that has now gone international? I have a confession to make: last year's Long Ride and the current initiative Ride to Berlin 2013 took their inspiration right from this idea. As they say on the website: 

"Here at 'On Horses for Horses' there is no office, no money and no 'hunners of staff' but plenty of passion for horses in general and this event in particular. The plan and most of the work, has come from my kitchen table in stolen minutes & sleepless nights. However, nothing would have worked, or will work in the future, without the help of other passionate enthusiasts. 

Well pretty much the same in my kitchen... Yesterday was "pay back" time, and 4 icey riders went on a wonderful, sunny autumn ride in aid of WHW. Thanks Loes, for the inspiration, and the ride. 

Fjölnir holding his own...
...and conquering Edinburgh High Street.
But why the posh clothes? Well this ride has been done before, and before, and before... to find out more, here is an extract from the history of the event in Edinburgh: 


The first record of a Riding Of The Marches in Edinburgh was on All Hallows (Halloween), 31st October 1579. On this date, a group of towns’ people gathered at the Provost’s house at 11am, from where they embarked on an inspection of the Marches of the Common Land led by the Captain of the Trained Band (Town Guard), Provost, Baillies and Burgesses. “Intimatioun” (intimation) of the event was given to the “nichtbouris” (towns people) and anyone who regularly made use of the Common Land, possessed a horse and failed to take part in the inspection was liable to be fined.

You find out more here.

Thank you Helen for the fabulous pictures. What an event! And it took you both one step closer to Berlin! 

Harpa and I managed 87 km during August, and are currently staying near the Nethy Bridge Hotel. We set off on a sunny day, waved bye bye to our lovely view over Fort George and the Moray Firth – Harpa does like to keep an eye on things!
We set off up the field and then cut through a friend’s farm to get off road.
We took a back route to get to Roseavoch estate and went cross country until we reach the Kessock Bridge – we timed crossing the Kessock Bridge early in the morning and just went down the cycle path.
From then on it was lovely paths and fields – we made sure we closed any gates that we opened and didn’t ride through any fields that contained livestock.
The food at the Nethy Bridge Hotel is great and we’ve spent the last weekend here in August there before moving on.
We’re planning to do quite a bit off road so will have some forestry track pics for you at end of September.
Bye for now
Laura and Harpa
... another 13 kms at the weekend, and as with any ride, there is always something new to discover about oneself, the horse, and the environment. 

"We have only been together for a couple of months so we're just starting to ride out and look at the kent countryside - Ari moved here from Wales and is an expert at getting into position to open gates while we are out: ))  Brodie the Samoyed sometimes joins us for the journey...."  - Ari Snari
There have been a few questions, which are answer below. If in doubt, just ask! 
  1. Number of horses: what counts is the rider! So you can ride as many (Icelcandic) horses as you like, hand horses count 1/2 distance so if you ride 10 km, taking a hand horse, count 15km. 
  2. Groups: up to 7 riders can form a group. The total target will be the average of the distance from home to Berlin of all group members (remember your target will change if a new member joins your group, which can be done at any time! Register here.  All rides count! You do not need to ride out together, in order for the km to be added to the group total. That will be done automatically when you (as a group member) send in your ridden km. 
  3. This is not a race!  But rather a record of your achievement (individual and as a group). Why not? Well for some of you the distance to Berlin is ‘only’ just over 1000km (1073km, to be precise) and for others it is almost 2000km. The furthest distance at the moment is 1883km, and I have not heard from the riders in Wick, yet! Once we get a bit “closer”, we might intro duce a competitive element into the the whole initiative. For the time being, enjoy the ride! 
  4. A monthly update will be sent out to all registered riders.