Bettering the Breed Through Evaluations

In the fall of 2004, the Flugnir Icelandic Horse Association of the Midwest held a breed evaluation at Dan and Barb Riva’s Winterhorse Park in Eagle, Wisconsin.  I was there as a curious spector, wondering what a breed evaluation would be like.

I brought my video camera (because that is what I do) with the thought that maybe there would be some activities I could use for a film I had in mind about people having fun with Icelandic horses.

When I saw how much work and planning had gone into the event, I changed my role and started shooting with the idea that I would show what it takes to put on an event like this.

I confess to another agenda: I have  mixed feelings about  Americans breeding Icelandic horses.  My reasons will be explored in Hestablog and Hestakaup, but you can get an idea where I stand by looking at How Iceland Gets in the Iceandic horse. How  “Iceland” gets into the Icelandic horse is a matter of much knowledge and the result of generations of  tradition and a respect for the breed which we don’t have much of here.  But domestic breeding is going to happen, whether Stan likes it or not!

So my mission became to highlight the where, who, and how of good breeding here in the U.S. and Canada and use video and the internet to spread what I consider best practices.  I’m not an expert, but I have the camera and the websites to offer a common reference point for discussion.

One thing that flew out at me during the evaluations was how important it is to have a real breeding program, and that requires a lot of knowledge and experience.  I was so impressed with Anne Elwell’s commentary during the conformation judging that I have included portions with the hope that it will inspire more people to reach out to that level of expertise and interest in the horses.

The day before the judging started, there was a day-long seminar and then a planning meeting to decide who and what roles would be needed.

Then each horse had to be carefully measured.


After the horse has been measured, it is then evaluated for its physical conformation.

There is so much more to the breeding of a horse than motion and build…

When it is finally time to watch the horses being ridden, there is a lot that needs to be done at the last moment.  There is even a mouse to be tamed…

Now on to riding the horses…

This is an opportunity to promote the breed and educate the public.

We close with a celebration of the breed, showing off some youngsters, and giving out awards.

It was a great event, lots of fun and it fired up interest in breeding.

I hate to end on a such a serious note, but one statement has stuck with me.  I was eavesdropping on a conversation Anne Elwell had during a break in her announcing the breeding lines.

Oh, is she ever right!  Breeding is a responsibility.  An awesome one not only to the animal, but to the breed as a whole. And that is what this is really all about!

So, where is Eagle, Wisconsin, anyway?


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