Our boy Brimi

A few years ago we made the decision to purchase an Iceland Sheepdog puppy. It was a lengthy process. We had to apply to be put in the que for a puppy, give references, and promise to keep in contact and submit photos of our puppy monthly with the breeder for one year after purchase. We also had to complete an on-line puppy course which came with our hefty deposit.

Owning a pure bred dog was nothing new to us. We had owned Labrador retrievers for many years prior and were well aquainted with the levels of dog training and even showing one of our dogs in Obedience. If you have ever properly trained a dog from the start to finish, you will understand the commitment this takes. Luckily we had a fantastic mentor with Pat from Parkland Kennels, Stony Plain, Alberta.

In many ways training Brimi has been easier; not just because we are experienced but, also because these dogs (not un-like the Labrador) just want to make you happy. We can’t say enough about his character and willingness to please. His joyous attitude each and every day and his outright affinity to know how you feel and just be “there” for you.

In 2020, we turn the page literally and figuratively. Looking forward to our upcoming trip to Scandinavia and meeting our fellow Icelandic enthusiasts.

Some cute puppy pics –

Alert and ready for anything
First day home at the farm

Saying Goodbye

I think that everyone can relate to the feeling one gets when we see our heart horse for the first time. The feelings of joy and also the feeling of expectation and future adventures waiting right around the corner.

The thing that we cannot begin to even imagine are the feelings of loss and grief when we lose our equine partner.

The process of living with grief is one we are familiar with. By the time we reach middle age most of us have lost a parent, a friend or other relative. We know the steps we will go through and realize that it will pass, not hurt any less but, move us along to a point where we can feel like we can revisit moments and places and not be utterly struck immobile with devestating loss of our loved one.

A lot of us over the course of our lives have lost a pet. A cat, a bird, a dog. We sometimes move on and over time are able to open our hearts to another pet. With horses it’s a different story. We know just how strong our bond is with our horse, we know just how many hours, days, weeks, years, it took to build that house of trust; moving along to another horse is a journey that is scary and daunting and sometimes impossible.

We lost my husbands horse this past spring. I’m not going to lie, it was rough. He’d been sick for a few weeks, confined to his stall. He couldn’t walk without being in excrutiating pain. We worked with two local Vets to try and figure out how to help him but, pain relief seemed the only answer. I even called two other Vets in Edmonton to see if they could shine a light on the mystery illness. The feeling of helplessness, the feeling of knowing that despite all our efforts just how things would finally end was aweful.

It’s been a few months now; the thoughts we have of Trigger even so always there are less painful. We can move through our days without feeling or thinking – if only he were here. We think about the good times we had with him and the funny things he would do. We think about the times he would play so patiently with our youngster Glitnir – teaching him how to be a well manered boy. Our Trigger was such a good horse, he will be missed and loved always by all who knew him. RIP – Threat’s Trigger Happy – L.

Why we feed what we feed –

Feeding the Rapidly Growing Foal

Sarah L. Ralston, VMD, Ph.D., dACVN, Department of Animal Science, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University

Fact Sheet #895 – Reviewed 2004

Large foals that are growing rapidly are often considered to be at increased risk of developmental orthopedic disease (DOD). A multifactorial problem, DOD includes problems such as osteochondrosis dessicans (defective bone and cartilage at the joint surface), epiphysitis (enlarged, painful growth plates), flexure and angular limb deformities, and perhaps wobblers syndrome. Genetics, nutrition and exercise all play a role in the incidence of DOD in horses.

Hereditary predisposition to at least OCD is well documented in Standardbred and Swedish warmblood horses, with the incidence as high as 45% in some bloodlines. However, the genetic defect that causes the growth associated problems in the horses has not been identified. Breeds selected for rapid growth are at increased risk of developing problems, but it is not growth rate alone that causes the problem. It is not always the most rapidly growing foal that develops DOD, but often the one with the most erratic growth rate.

Trauma due to excessive concussion, due either to severe obesity or forced exercise, may increase the incidence of DOD. Other reports, however, revealed that restriction of exercise adversely impacts bone growth and development in young horses. Turning the foals out in as large an area (either pasture or paddock) as possible for as long as possible is highly recommended. Ideally they should get 24-hour turnout. However, strenuous forced exercise, especially lunging in circles, should be avoided. Foals should not be allowed to become obese.

Mineral imbalances have been well documented to cause DOD. Deficiencies of calcium, phosphorus and/or copper all result in defective bone maturation. Zinc toxicity and perhaps deficiency also have resulted in lesions, though the effects of simple zinc deficiency are not well documented. The optimal intakes of copper and zinc for young horses have not been well defined. Current recommendations for mineral content of rations for foals less than 1 year of age are given in Table 1.

Excessive protein (greater than 16%) was incriminated as a cause of DOD in the 1970s but subsequent studies have not revealed a direct relationship between high protein rations and DOD. Weanlings fed rations deficient in protein (less than 12%) had reduced growth rates and poor bone mineralization compared to weanlings fed rations which were higher in protein. Restricting protein in a rapidly growing foal’s ration will not result in improved bone growth and may actually be detrimental to the animal.

Rations providing over 100% of the National Research Council’s recommended amounts of energy for rapid growth in foals may cause an increased incidence of DOD, especially if the ration contains more than 50% sweet feed (grain mix plus molasses) or other high sugar concentrate by weight. High carbohydrate rations such as sweet feeds may contribute to the appearance of DOD, possibly related to the high blood glucose and insulin and low blood pH they cause for up to 4 hours after feeding. Pelleted and extruded feeds tend to have lower molasses contents and higher fiber concentrations have a lesser effect on glucose and insulin. Pelleting appears to affect the availability of carbohydrates and pelleted concentrates may cause lower glucose and insulin changes than textured feeds with the same basic formulation (Ralston, 1992). There may be a correlation between OCD and glucose intolerance (abnormally high blood glucose and insulin after a meal of sweet feed) in foals that are genetically predisposed to the problem.

Dúfa – Snow Princessa

Winter arrived today with a roar!

Are we ever ready for winter to arrive? Our newest herd member is taking on our Alberta weather with vim and vigor. Unpredicted -18C this a.m. – thanks weather guru’s.

Dúfa is not just a pretty face – with typical Icelandic horse fashion, she delights in our winter weather and seems to be taking it by storm. She was born with a swack of hair, much more than usual, truly ready for anything.