How adaptable and adaptive horses are and how quickly they get used to new situations, almost as if they were “thinking along”, is shown by the following story, which we recently received from a reader in Iceland.

I love horses and own six good riding horses myself. They’re not for show. Since I am fully employed and only find time for riding in my spare time, equestrian sport is not for me. But it gives me a lot to spend time with my horses after work and to take long rides in the summer months to relax.

I would now like to tell you a little story about one of my mares. She’s “just” called Stjarna and she’s from Miðkot in Iceland. Her sire Piltur frá Sperðli won first prize for breeding. Her mother was called Maístjarna frá Hvítanesi.

I had Stjarna when she was 7 years old. She was my first horse. I had hardly any experience with horses at that time and had only just started riding. Therefore, I was very unsure at first whether she was the right horse for me at all, because she was very temperamental and could never stand still. However, one thing struck me immediately: Stjarna was very intelligent. Sometimes I even thought that she had the intelligence of a human being.

Despite her temperament, we quickly got together. She was well trained and a great riding horse. I learned a lot from her during this time and I owe a lot to her.

She is five gaited, so you can ride her in a racing pace. I learned to ride pace quickly because Stjarna is very easy to lay into pace. When I “fly” through the landscape with her in the 5th gait, I get such happy feelings that I have goose bumps all the way. It is priceless to experience such moments with horses!

I’ll never forget the day Stjarna came to me. I immediately took her in the stable and the next day I took her for a little ride. Everything went great and we both came back happy and content.

I stopped her at the stable door, got down and led her into the stable. The next day I did exactly the same; ride out, stop in front of the stable door, dismount and lead her into the stable.

This is exactly how I did it on the third day, or rather, this is exactly how I wanted to do it. As on the two days before, I stopped her at the stable door after the ride. But then, to my greatest astonishment, things turned out differently: Even before I could get off, Stjarna bit the door handle and pushed the door open with her head!

I was very impressed to witness how an animal solves a task independently and without being asked, after having seen it only twice before.

Elvar Reykjalín

translated from Icelandic

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