Ambassador Horses: A Legacy
While we love and appreciate all of our horses, there are always some that seem to attach themselves deeper into our hearts. Some are true "hooves on" ambassadors who have carried countless riders for their first joyful rounds of tölt; others have just been done everything go anywhere horses or are just characters with unforgettable horse personalities. The following horses are a few of those amazing horses that remind us why we fell in love with this breed in the first place.
Borkur fra Alfholar
[Note! See more photos in gallery below.]
Born in Iceland in 1968, exported to Germany and then ultimately North America in 1976, Borkur fra Alfholar led a varied and somewhat colorful life.
Considered 3-gaited, Borkur worked at a rental stable in Germany where people would rent horses to take out on trail rides. Ever the opportunist, Borkur quickly discovered that a couple of well timed stumbles early on in the ride would ensure that his favorite gait, a slow walk, would not be interrupted by trot (one of the roughest on record) or canter.
In 1976 Borkur’s idea of hard work and climate would change forever. Exported with 14 other Icelandics to New York, Borkur found himself part of the Great American Horse Race, a ride stretching from New York to California, celebrating America’s Bicentennial. The Icelandic team was part of the promotional efforts of Samband, the now defunct Icelandic farmer’s co-op, and the government of Iceland. Despite his penchant for avoiding work, Borkur would end the 3 month ride as the only horse in the entire race to go every day of it, without lameness or illness.
After that ordeal, Borkur’s life became considerably easier, going home, along with 4 other GAHR Icelandics, with ride crew members, Robyn Hood and Phil Pretty. They first went to Edmonton then to the Toronto area. There, Borkur learned to jump, drive a cart, attended a taping of a children’s television program (Polka Dot Door) in downtown Toronto, a feat which included riding in a freight elevator, and enjoyed frequent swims in seasonal ponds.
Moving back to Edmonton with the family and now a herd of 22 Icelandics, Borkur soon became 18 month old Mandy’s trusty steed, faithfully following along behind a lead horse, while his pleasantly light cargo bounced merrily along.
Borkur continued to be one of Mandy’s favorites despite his 3 gaited-ness and inexplicably rough movement. He would stand patiently for grooming parlor sessions, obediently wait while enough speed and impulsion was attained by a 6 year old to jump on bareback, and diligently attempt to snatch grass while on trail rides, without missing a stride even at a brisk canter.
Borkur spent his last few years living in retirement with his girlfriend Gryta, receiving special senior meals and accommodations, passing away without incident in 2002 at the age of 35. Borkur will always be remembered as Mandy’s first introduction to a life long horse obsession and his undeniable sense of humour.