We’re in the news!

Very awkward and a little awesome too! If you are somewhat fluent in Norwegian, or speak a Scandinavian language (in which you might understand most of it), you can read the article here. For those of you who don’t, and do not prefer to read a Google Translated version of the text, I have translated it as best I can, so you all can read it too!

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This picture went viral when Emma posted it in February. The woman on the picture is her mother, Gry Catinka Wold.

The gigantic horse with the same follower count as Jens Stoltenberg
(For those less political of you; Jens Stoltenberg is Norway’s x-prime minister of 8 years, and the current secretary general of the United Nations. Very famous guy.)

Jens Stoltenberg has about 40 000 followers on Instagram. Lillen, a horse from Asker, has too.

In February this year, Emma Wold (20) from Drengsrud, opened an Instagram account for their family horse, Lillen.
– He is an unusually gigantic horse, and I thought that the rest of the world might have some interest in seeing pictures of him, she says.

During the previous 6 months, the fan base has reached almost 40 000 from across the world, people who all pay close attention to the horse from Asker.
– I got a couple of hundred followers the first months, and thought it was great fun. Suddenly it all exploded over night, and I woke up to several thousands, Emma says.

She had never imagined the account to be such a success.
– I think people find him interesting because there is not a lot of horses like him.

The shire horse is nearly two meters tall, and weighs in at impressive 1.2 tonns. When they hack out, they receive a lot of strange looks.
– We rarely get to hack out in peace. Many feel frightened by his size, and we make sure to stop and talk to anyone who feels insecure. It usually works when they see how calm and relaxed he is, she laughs.

Emma is a dedicated amateur photographer, and most of the pictures posted is taken by herself.
– The most trending pictures are those who show off his size. When you put a human next to him, and the size difference is enhanced, the ‘likes’ pour in.

Emma herself is impressed of the growing fan group.
– It’s amazing that Lillen has as many followers as Jens Stoltenberg. You think of him as an important man, and then our clown of a horse is just as popular! It’s insane.

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When this picture was posted, it quickly went viral. Many was so puzzled by the size of the horse, they insisted the picture was photoshopped. On his back is Gry Catinka Wold.

The family bought Lillen five years ago, and imported him from Sweden.

– We had just been forced to put down a horse, and we were devastated. She left such big holes in our heart, we joked about how we needed a very big horse to fill those holes. So we went off to buy the biggest horse we could find, Emma says.

Owning such a large horse offers some unexpected challenges.

– We can’t find much good equipment for him here in Norway, so we import it from England. It is also difficult to take him places, as he won’t fit in an ordinary horse trailer.

Written by Camilla Island, for Budstikka.

Translated with permission by the journalist. Thank you so much for reaching out to me and writing a great article about us all! πŸ™‚ I am not a professional translator, but hope it turned out fairly alright.

Emma

Thursdays are for throwbacks

The age old TBT, often accompanied with a hashtag, is actually one of my favourite trends in the online community. I love looking back at old pictures, and I love sharing them with everyone! For this TBT I want to share some pictures from a shoot I had with Brego last autumn.

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The Norwegian equine blog platform hest.no is great at highlighting its best bloggers, and every month they crown a dedicated individual to be their “blogger of the month”. If you win, you are awarded with one of their famous woollen rugs, a rug most bloggers really really really want to be able to put on their horse.

They also have a “blogger of the year”-award, where they have several different sub-categories, in addition to the prestigious “THE blogger of the year”. In this competition, you can also win rugs, books (about horses, you can choose from a huge selection!) or clothing. And if you were nominated, but didn’t win, you get a little prize nevertheless, because you deserve a little something. hest.no is awesome like that.

Somehow I was awarded Blogger of the Month for August 2016. Or, the ‘somehow’ is thrown in there to show some modesty, if I’m allowed to be honest I put a lot of work into my blogs that August πŸ˜› And sure enough; two weeks after I was crowned winner of the monthly competition, the famous rug turned up at my post office.

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And being an equine blogger, we of course had to do a Photoshoot with the rug.

Sadly, I am not very good at posing, so when I’m in front of the camera I rely on my horses to look pretty.

Sadly, Brego has no idea how to look pretty. So we ended up with a lot of goofy and straight down unsuccessful pictures where none of us look good, and we look random enough for none of it to be funny. Oh well.

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“NO apples before you look pretty, alright?”
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… the size of his head…Β 

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(Don’t worry, I did share with him)

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“See, Brego, THE CAMERA IS OVER THERE. Pose in that direction! Ears forward!”

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Also a typical Brego pose. What, why do I need to be in the picture?

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Also, I know the bit is too big, he had to borrow Lillen’s snaffle who had huge D-rings, in order for the bridle-thing to actually fit. This was around the time when Brego decided to out-grow my entire wardrobe of bridles, so I had to improvise, alright? πŸ˜€

Emma

Autumn sunshine

Harsh and difficult to shoot in, but oh boy is it magnificent!

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*nom*

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DSC_0332DSC_0343Sometimes our photoshoots get quite crowded πŸ˜›

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I don’t have much to write today, so I hope you enjoyed these pictures! I enjoyed shooting them atleast, even if the sunlight is very tough during autumn! Cred to my mother for being sporty and modeling along with Lillen.

The harsh sun gives the pictures such a great mood, but oh boy can the contrasts be tough to work through. And having the equipage in direct sunlight is not an easy task.

Emma

Riding bitless with a 1200kg horse

As an equestrian who does not check any boxes regarding what I do (or don’t do) with my horses, I often receive a lot of questions about what I actually think about [insert stuff]. So let me tell you about life with a 1200kg (2650lbs) horse and what I think about riding without a bit.

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Seeing as liberty, freedom and bitless bridles is the main equestrian trend on Instagram (along with being vegan, and doing crossfit and yoga *cough, stereotypes, sorry!*), my comment section has since day one been filled with “why don’t you ride Lillen bitless?” and “you are hurting him with a bit like that”.

The first typical comment is a totally fair question to ask, which I am happy to answer! The second typical comment is one of those I really want to answer as sarcastic as I can, because it shows how brainwashed and/or uneducated people are when it comes to the horse’s mouth.

I also get this slightly bad taste in my mouth if I see someone comment “bitless! thank god you’ve seen the light!” on a post where Lillen is pictures with a bitless bridle, because I’m pretty sure my next picture will be of him wearing a snaffle or a pretty massive curb. The only light I have seen is the one who tells me to not close off any options. I know I was going to talk about bitless bridles, but let me just make one thing clear about bits:

A bit cannot hurt a horse.

A human can.

If we go with the “bits hurt horses”-thing, I’m pretty sure we also can claim that spoons make people fat and that cars drive drunk.

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Sure, a bit can create a lot of pain if used without care or by hands who do not know what to do. Just like a gun is the best and probably easiest way to murder anyone. But it won’t do so on its own.

So if you feel uncomfortable walking around with a gun, you probably shouldn’t. Just as you should ditch the bit if you feel uncomfortable with it. I love my bits, and have probably 52 different ones hanging in my stable, so I can hand pick whatever fits the mood of the day and the horse I am riding.

But I love bitless alternatives too.

To answer the question ‘why don’t you ride Lillen bitless?’, it’s all very simple:

You don’t get one his size.

For real; we can’t even find a fitting halter. How on earth should we find a well made bitless bridle?

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Trotting bitless in the snow…

Baby Lillen had a gigantic hackamore which we barely managed to squeeze around his nose. He outgrew that after a few months. And then we were back to “uhm, and where do we find something bigger?”, and the regular bridle with a bit.

His halter has never been secure enough to ride in, as he is a strong horse and a halter will act wobbly. We do not have a death wish. We also believe that wobblyness is no good way to communicate (hence why I don’t like most gag bits).

And in all honesty, we have never had enough money to get one custom made. That price doubles once the horse is the size of an elephant, and you know; we’d rather have gas for our car, or food to fill Lillen’s stomach.

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A fat baby Lillen with his poorly fitted barely-fitting hackamore.

So one of the first things I made when I started crafting my own equipment, was a sidepull for Lillen.

All my horses have had a bitless bridle, so that we can choose whatever communciation tool we want to, and whatever fits the best for whatever we’re doing. Brego was started in a sidepull and just recently advanced to the bit, and all my other horses have been “forced” into the bitless alternatives because I think it is important. Lillen enjoyed his hackamore, but doesn’t mind bits.

Now he enjoys his sidepull, and still doesn’t mind bits.

Riding a large horse bitless is no different from riding them with a bit, unless you choose to canter on the way back to the stable after a long hack. With a bit you can stop him if you needed to. With a sidepull, you just have to grab his mane and hang on and hope his stamina runs out before you meet something.

Lillen is a very sensitive horse who care about his rider. If we say something, he usually says “okay”. It’s also worth taking into consideration that we communicate mostly with our seat and legs, so what the reins are attached to is less important for the horse. This applies to all the horses we’ve ridden bitless, and seeing as Lillen is “just another” horse (alright, he is a tad special, but still a horse), he acts no different. If you want to try your horse bitless, start safe inside the arena and with someone keeping an eye out for you. I’m not saying you are going to die just becasue you are trying something new, but to many horses the messages they recieve through a bitless bridle is unknown to them and you might find yourself with less control than usual.

We do however ride bitless mainly inside the riding arena with Lillen, due to his strength. If a smaller horse bolts bitless whilst hacking, you will have a saying because your strength as a rider can pull the horse out of balance, turn him around or apply enough force to make him stop/slow down. If Lillen bolts, we will NOT be able to get the same message across bitless. If he bolts, he bolts, and sadly that might be the end of him (and maybe us) and whatever he runs into.

With a curb we are able to stop an emergency from happening. With a sidepull, we have no chance. And sure; we trust him to not bolt, and he doesn’t usually bolt. But that is not a risk we’re willing to take. We trust him to be kind and responsive, but we also trust him to be a horse. Horses can spook, and horses can bolt.

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DSC_0072.jpgThrowing in a little picture of baby Brego too!

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I don’t think riding with a bit makes you a bad person, nor do I believe you are morally superior by choosing bitless only. One of my previous trainers permanently damaged my 6 y/o horse with a sidepull, and if you saw her riding you’d never have thought the outcome would be what it was. It wasn’t ugly to look at, yet her nose was swollen and sore when we came back into the stable. The problem will always be the rider and his/her hands, and the lack of proper guidence and education of the horse.

I choose to do a bit of all; bitless in different shapes and sizes, bits, both snaffles and curbs, and a bitless/bit-combination. I think that having many tools in your toolbox and the ability to adapt, is a strength a rider can have and something that will benefit the horse πŸ™‚ Lillen seems happy with that choice, and so do my other horses!

Emma