Related Posts with Thumbnails

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winter Worry: Icelandic Horses Fell Through the Ice

Today's video is from the "greatest hits" vault here at Hoofcare & Lameness. Two years ago, a near-tragic event in Iceland was captured on film: eleven champion Icelandic horses and riders plunged into a lake when the ice cracked and broke beneath them. The water was just deep enough that the horses could not get themselves out.

What happened next makes this video all the more worth watching. Luckily a film crew was on hand, and the footage was edited into an Animal Planet report.

Animal Planet asked for commentary from our friend Professor Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, DACVSMR, MRCVS. Dr Clayton is Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, and she is probably the only academic expert in the gaits of Icelandic horses. She'll be a familiar face to many on this video.

Many apologies for the quality of this video; it was the only version available, but it should be good enough for you to see what happened. Uncut footage can be seen (and heard in Icelandic) on YouTube from the original tape.

What's the lesson to be learned here? They did measure the ice before the horses arrived, but perhaps not in the right spot. It is well-known that Icelandic horses are shod with studs and/or studded nails for these ice tolts, as they are called, but it's doubtful that the shoes caused the ice to crack and break.  Perhaps the sunny day and the combined weight and impact of the line of horses was simply too much for the ice.

To learn more:
Read about a seminar on Icelandic horseshoeing at Cornell vet school

 © Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to
Follow the Hoof Blog on Twitter: @HoofcareJournal
Join the Hoofcare + Lameness Facebook Page
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any direct compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned, other than Hoofcare Publishing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


The_Knight_Sky said...

I'm definitely not a member of the Polar Bear Club so that video clip hurts to watch.

There should be better devices to measure the density and depth of the ice utilized. Siggi Sig, are you listening? :D

Fran Jurga said...

Something tells me that they haven't tried this again. Neat horses, though, aren't they?

The_Knight_Sky said...

Yes. The horses take to the choreography like uh, "duck to water". :D

Correct me if I'm wrong but those high steppers must have some standardbred (trotting) blood in their lineage.