Our names are Smári and Mandy Slater and we have a son called Oskar who was born on 25th October 2004 . He is already a keen horse rider! (Both of us were born with a passion for horses and we are both hoping that this is hereditary and will be passed on to our little boy!)
Smári has always been in contact with horses in some way or another. Born in Iceland where most families used horses on their farms. He started working with them and training them full time in the 1980?s in Iceland , and there was no looking back! He moved to England in 1994 to help look after and train the horses at Edda Hestar, near Salisbury. In August 2008 he moved to Wales with his family and now the farm is his, the horses are his and his time is his own. He devotes his life to his family and his animals and takes great pride in introducing new people to his equine heritage.
Smári loves to breed and start his own horses and many of his homebred horses can be seen on the farm today. He loves to spend time with the youngsters, starting them slowly, getting them used to shoes, tack, rider and teaching them to enjoy working with us humans in a non-stressful environment.
After the initial groundwork, which consists of loose schooling, long reining and getting the horse new to the tack, and only once Smári is happy that the horse is comfortable with everything, he moves onto the ridden training. Firstly he gets on them in a stable, then works with them in the indoor area where he will do much of the initial riding before venturing out into the lane, or down the private track. It is important that he can stop, start, and turn before he takes them anywhere too exciting.
Mandy was born in England and started riding at age 4. Her background was with dressage and eventing when she was younger, and later in life spent her free time working with her own horses for her own relaxation. She first saw Icelandic horses at Littlecote show, in 1998 and was completely taken with them. In 2000 she bought her first mare, Skessa and her collection has grown steadily since then.
Mandy works in IT three days per week and apart from her family and horses her horses; she is also a third year student of Shiatsu massage. The horses respond fantastically well to Shiatsu as well as humans, though there aren’t really enough hours in the day to do this very often.
Both Smári and Mandy compete the horses regularly and have been successful in the Icelandic UK Championships in past years. Smári had the honor to show his home bred stallion, Dropi from Salisbury in Holland at the World Championships in 2007.
Other family members are “Couscous” the Siamese farm cat, “Tinna” the Labrador x Huntaway who helps us round up anything that needs rounding up and “Bear” one of Tinna’s babies (born November 2013).
After two years of searching we finally found our home, Blaenwaun, in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Blaenwaun dates back 130 years and was originally a dairy farm, but over the years the land was sold off and it is now a smallholding of approximately 13 acres.
On the land we keep our brood mares and foals, our stallions, our working horses and horses in training.
Blaenwaun also has a small motte and bailey castle on the land, which adds to the character of the property, and our sheep keep that little area nice and tidy for us.
About our horses
We always seem to have around 20 horses. They are a mixture of all ages, from foals up to fully trained competition horses and most of the horses these days have been bred by ourselves, but we still have a number that have been imported from Iceland. We are lucky enough to have a very nice collection of well bred mares who are excellent riding horses and competition horses. We also have two stallions currently, one who is home bred and the other whom we imported in the spring of 2010 and who will start his training soon.
They all have their own ‘special’ characters. Generally though, they are good natured and steady with strong minds and bodies. Most of the working horses are competed with on a regular basis at the Icelandic horse shows that are held around UK and Europe.
Although our horses are steady characters, they are certainly not ‘dobbins’. They are well schooled, forward going and responsive.
It is very important to us, that our horses have exceptional manners. As our son was born in 2004, and was small and running around with us when we were doing them, it was and still is that our horses are mindful of them selves and their surroundings. Small children and horses hooves don’t make a great combination as you can imagine.
The horses very quickly get used to small children hiding around corners, dogs, traveling in the lorry or trailer and people on bikes, which are many of the things that are causes for concern when people are looking for their own Icelandic.
The herd that we keep here at Blaenwaun Farm are in a mixed group of mares and geldings, and also when they are growing up they are kept as a mixed sex herd. We also keep our young horses with Solva Icelandics and at Mandy’s dad’s farm, fairly close to us in Wales. Ideally we would have enough land here to keep them all with us, but for now we must keep them elsewhere.
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