The story behind the story, part one: Conception

So I've written this book

Here is how that happened:

Trainer Johanna Tryggvason instructing Sigrid on Icelandic horse Helgi

June 2018: I've bought a horse

And he is much too young for me. Not to mention high-spirited, too sensitive for my limited riding skills, and largely untrained.


I will need help with schooling him, lots of it.


Fortunately I have an outstanding trainer in Johanna Tryggvason, who agrees to help Helgi and me to grow into a good team.

July 2018: An idea is born

I’ve been taking notes on Helgi’s and my training sessions with Johanna, and a sort of diary is evolving.


A crazy idea pops up in my head, which I promptly propose to Johanna: I will write a book about Helgi’s first year of training, talking about my experiences with the ups and down in our daily training, and the tips Johanna gives me throughout that journey.


Johanna likes the idea. Wee!

October 2018: But was it a good idea?

The first few months with Helgi went really well – astonishingly so, given that he was barely saddle-trained when he arrived, and I’m no better than mediocre when it comes to riding skills, much less training a young horse.


But now we seem to have hit a wall. Instead of making progress, we seem to regress from one training session to the next.


I’m starting to doubt that taking on the challenge of training a young horse was a good idea at all – much less writing a book about it. But since there’s no going back on the former (not that I'd want to!), I might as well continue with the latter.

Riding young Icelandic horse Helgi

Icelandic horse Helgi loves exercises inspired by Intrinzen

November 2018: An unusual approach

I’ve discovered a project that I find fascinating: Kathy Sierra’s Intrinzen approach allows horse and rider to work towards collection with the horse at liberty. It was designed for older horses, or those with with movement problems caused by old injuries, and thus not exactly made for young, agile Helgi.


But it looks like fun, and we’re stuck on a plateau phase when riding, so I try it out. Helgi loves it, and Johanna is intrigued.


So Intrinzen work becomes a regular thing in Helgi’s training, and a new chapter is added to the book.

April 2019: Oh dear, this is not going well

Over the winter, Helgi and I have been growing into a good team, and I’ve been happily taking notes. But now that spring is in the air, and heavy storms make things move that are not supposed to move, my young horse is tense and unhappy. He is showing me a side of himself that I hadn’t known before:


One stormy day, he starts rearing and bucking, seemingly out of the blue. I manage to dismount before things escalate further, whew.


But now I wonder if this horse isn’t just too much for me. But there’s no way out but through, and so, with Johanna’s help, Helgi and I work through the crisis we’ve suddenly found ourselves in. And I faithfully take notes, even if jotting them down is no fun on occasion.

Training a young Icelandic horse is not easy

Tolt on Icelandic horse Helgi can feel like flying

May 2019: And suddenly, my dreamhorse

How fast things can change! Now that Helgi and I have found a new basis to build on after our crisis a few weeks ago, he cooperates not just willingly, but enthusiastically.


One memorable day on a trail ride, Helgi shows me just what he is capable of when he's motivated enough: He gathers himself and starts off at the most amazing tolt I've ever ridden. My husband, left behind as we fly past him, calls an astonished "WOW!" after us.

What a horse!


And this happens just as the end of the first year (and thus, of the book) is coming up. I wonder if anybody will believe how neatly this has turned out in the end?

If you'd like to read more about the process of writing a book, stay tuned!


The next installment will show you how I turned a heap of disorganized notes about the first year of Helgi's training into something that resembled an actual textbook.


Let me tell you: That is much easier said than done!

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