Wind Gait Icelandic Horses
"Wonderful things come in small packages!"
Wind Gait Icelandics' History
Cary Thomas moved to the farm now known as Wind Gait Farm when he married Karen in 1975. Karen grew up on another part of this same farm, which was originally purchased by her grandfather around 1903.
Both Cary and Karen grew up in the piedmont area of NC as it was transitioning from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. Although both grew up in the countryside, neither lived on a true working farm. It wasn't until after both their careers were established that they could finally get the horses they'd never owned as kids.
The first horses they owned were very nice horses of various breeds. Their only interest was pleasure/trail riding until their daughter started to reveal a real talent with hunter/jumpers...then dressage...and for years Cary and Karen found all of their spring and summer weekends consumed at local and regional horse shows.
The daughter grew up and developed interests beyond horses. Years after they bought their first horses, Cary and Karen finally had the time to do some serious pleasure riding that they had always planned to do. Then Karen had an accident. It was a freak accident, a normally sensible 16.1H gelding spooked hard and left her on the ground with a broken back. Only 5 feet tall, already with arthritis, and now many months of recovery ahead, how could she get back to riding? Remounting a 16H horse on a trail ride had already been difficult, even before the injury.
Cary did what a caring spouse who's married to a true horse junkie would do. (Only a horse-husband could imagine what life with Karen might be like without her daily horse-fix. Not a pleasant prospect!) He asked her to think about what could they do to make riding fun, comfortable and safe for her again. Many years before she'd read of a breed that tweaked her interest. She started researching Icelandic horses before she could walk again.
About six months after the accident, Karen had her first Icelandic mare, a lovely, stocky little five-gaited Palomino mare, just 12.3H. When they went for their Icelandic test trail ride at Unicorn Valley Icelandics in Kentucky, a surprising thing happened. Cary, 6'2" and normally the more pragmatic spouse, also fell in love with these solid mounts!
Why are these horses so right for Cary and Karen? First of all, Karen wanted a horse that was as bomb-proof as possible. Second, she wanted a smooth-gaited horse to avoid jostling her back. Third, mounting was even harder than before, so no more 16+ H horses. Why was Cary so smitten? Cary is a big guy, and he needs a horse strong enough to carry him. He loves a long and brisk trail ride, and a horse with energy and spirit was just what he wanted. Amazingly one breed of horse offers all these qualities in a single package.
Icelandic's satisfy Cary and Karen's wish-list. They also add sweet dispositions and intelligence to their list of qualities. Then top the list with horses that are very low maintenance - they usually have very healthy feet and require very little food to bloom. Their endurance and athleticism is legendary. While many Icelandic's can be great horses for kids, most are just as well-suited for adults. They're a versatile breed, having been shown successfully in almost very sport: dressage, hunters, trail classes, competitive trail riding, team penning, and endurance racing. They can do it all - and make it all very fun!
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