ALLES ISI! A Life with Icelandic Horses by Carina Heller

In the chapter “Godi, the Rome Horse” Carina describes how her mother, out of pity, buys a run-down, lame horse and feeds it up.
The reader learns how it develops into her absolutely reliable and favorite horse. Gertrud Heller made big plans with Godi: She even wanted to ride him all the way to Rome! ALLES ISI! A Life with Icelandic Horses by Carina Heller!

Mrs. Heller wanted to ride to Rome with Godi, hence the nickname Romehorse, Photo/Carina Heller

Godi was part of the second or third group that stopped at our place. A great chestnut gelding who had already had several careers in his young life.
He had been bought as a promising competition fivegaiter, – no, that was not quite his destiny, then sold as a fast racing pace horse – no, that was not quite his destiny either, again passed on as a weight bearer for trail riders and that was not his destiny either.

His true destiny was quite different, the most valuable a horse can have: He was to be my mother’s steed.

And this is how it happened: Having passed through so many hands, his fur was dull when he arrived with one of the groups of trail riders and his eyes were dog-tired. He looked like thirty years old even though he was just seven years old. He was starved and lame and did not want to walk any further. A picture of misery.

The trail riding group left Godi with us and discussed with my mother that she would pick him up with the trailer as soon as they reached their destination.

But it didn’t work out, because in those days Godi’s fate turned and it was my mother who discovered his true destiny. Her heart overflowed with compassion and she bought this lame hook from the owners.

I could not believe it. She had also paid a lot of money for this skeleton. But Godi would thank her all his life and my mother experienced her most carefree riding time with him.

She cared for him and nursed him and pampered him until his belly became round and his fur shone. She swore by flaxseeds, no matter if for feeding or for the shiny coat and for healthy hooves anyway.

And Godi flourished. At last a career that suited him. His lame limp-limp-limp walk soon became a more energetic clack-clack-clack walk.

The old millstone served as a climbing aid for Gertrud Heller, Photo/Carina Heller


When his lameness was over, my mother decided to try him out. Getting on the horse was already a feat of strength. Godi was an unusually tall Icelander and mother was somewhat handicapped by an old shoulder injury.

She had trouble pulling herself up on him. Climbing aids were still completely frowned upon at that time. But our mother was clever. An old millstone, which lay decoratively in the yard, became her climbing aid.

And here Godi showed her one of his greatest strengths: He could stand still, for a long time, until mother had fought her way into the saddle.

And even then he stood there like a statue and gave her time to sort herself out. Only his lower lip wobbled a little. He waited until she exclaimed a strong “now, we can start”, and then they started.

Godi was a pace horse by profession, more precisely a piggy passer. But that did not bother our mother. After all, she had been riding through the fields for years at Höttur in a triple trot. So she found Godi’s extremely comfortable pig pass a real blessing.

And the most important thing: She felt safe, because Godi went through thick and thin with her. He was solid as a rock. A bomb could have exploded next to him, he would simply have continued his way unimpressed.

Maybe his lower lip would wobble a little more than usual, but only a very little bit. My mother rode everywhere with Godi. Whether in the Süntel valley, the Deister, the mudflats or the Harz mountains.

The “Dream Team” Gertrud Heller with Godi, Photo/Carina Heller

Godi was her life insurance. She only lent him out with a heavy heart and then only to super anxious riders who she wanted to convince of her enthusiasm.

At each quadrille she rode proudly with him at the top. Always a little bit bent forward.

He didn’t mind, and she always had a short jumping crop with a leather swatter at the end in her hand. He never overstrained her in tempo and she never overstrained him.

With him, she dared to do anything and when she read an article in the magazine “Pony Post” (or was it already called “Freizeit im Sattel”?) about a ride to Rome, she was immediately up for it.

Full of enthusiasm, she spoke again and again about riding to Rome with Godi. Somehow, I never really believed my mother’s Rom ride story.

But when I opened the book by Max Indermaur “The Great Ride”, the first thing I stumbled upon in the prologue was the section with the prevented Rome ride, and I was really overwhelmed. Here Max Indermaur, Icelandic horse man from Switzerland, describes the idea of this ride in detail.

Extract from the book: Alles ISI by Carina Heller, pages 63-65

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