Lifgun – our first horse

Illustration Mein erstes Islandpferd

Sportsfreund-Studios was founded by Veronika Conen, who only got into the world of 
late into the world of Icelandic horses with her daughter. But the 
love for these horses would never have become so great if the two of them had not had their Lifgun. Later they got other horses, but there is probably no horse that comes close to the relationship between child and first horse. Here, Marie tells you about her first child pony and her first ever Sportsfreundin.

Autorin: Marie-Theres Conen

Ever since I can remember, my mum has been showing me
pictures of horses. These pictures come from books that my mother studied and admired as a child. They are called "Cowboy Jim", "All Respect Little Bud" or "Love Letters to Arabian Horses". They were her mother's books. My grandmother was also always a horse enthusiast. As a child, she was allowed to ride Gotland ponies at her uncle's in Sweden and farm horses at Lake Starnberg. As a young woman, she rode at the university riding school in Munich. My mother only started riding when I was big enough to learn too.

So I got my butt on a horse for the first time at the age of 6. This horse was an Icelandic horse and was called Snaefaxi. A huge, good-natured gelding with a white mane. Two years went by like that.

In the summer of 2006, my whole life was about to change. We were visiting my uncle in North Rhine-Westphalia. Opposite his house is a large Icelandic horse farm. My uncle had booked two foster horses for us. My mum got a chubby young chestnut mare whose name we can no longer remember. I got a beautiful Isabell mare called Lifgun. We were allowed to fetch, groom and take these mares for a walk. However, I received my riding lessons on Snoopy. He only wanted to eat during the whole riding lesson. It was not much fun for me.

It wasn't until later in the week that I was finally allowed to ride my Lifgun in a real riding lesson. During this riding lesson we cantered. Unfortunately for me, it was the first time. It came as it had to come. Gravity won in the second turn. BATCH, and I lay in the mud puddle. I was so dirty and wet that the horse was taken from me and I was sent home. Ashamed, I rang my uncle's doorbell and was reluctantly let in. As I walked back to the farm, cleaned and dry, to take my horse back to the paddock, I overheard a girl proudly telling her father, "Dad, a girl fell off in riding class today". To make matters worse, she pointed at me.

On the last day of our visit, I was deeply sad to leave my Lifgun. I thought I would never see her again. At home, life went on, the third grade demanded a lot of me. In contrast to the summer, I could only go to the horse once a week. I had riding lessons on Snaefaxi every Saturday. In the meantime it was winter. My mum had dumped me at a friend's house for three days to work in another town. When she came back, she picked me up earlier than usual from the day home. That alone was strange enough. Then she told me that I now had riding lessons. Strange, on a Thursday? Why not? I wouldn't turn down an offer like that. On the way to the yard, I told her that I wanted to ride a horse other than Snaefaxi today.

When I arrived, a strange crowd of people was waiting for me, wanting to come along like a procession, to pick out my school horse. They sent me to the normally empty box stall. At this point I was completely confused. I peered through the door into the darkness. At the very back I saw a blaze flash. I entered the stable and as I approached I thought I recognised the horse. But I didn't dare say my suspicions out loud. My riding instructor Anna asked me if I knew this horse. Tentatively I whispered the name Lifgun into her ear. She beamed and nodded. "Is she a schoolie here now? ", I asked? She shook her head. "She is your horse now". At that moment, huge joy erupted in me.

From then on, my Lifi taught me everything I know today about Icelandic horses. I had many ups and downs with her. And she is the reason why I am so passionate about the Icelandic horse breed.

Today I have been riding Icelandic horses for almost 20 years. My great passion certainly came from the good fortune that my mother made it possible for me to have my own pony so young. My beloved Lifgun showed me all the things that make these animals so special, which is how my love really took off.

On 3 January 2016, this special horse left me after 10 years. It still hurts me a lot because I grew up with her and in a funny way she was something like a second mother to me. She will forever have a special place in my heart. You have a completely different bond with your childhood horse than with the horses you have later. But my passion will not stop with her. My horses Hjörvar and Biskup now take her place.

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The Sportsfreund Studios blog contains numerous tips on dealing with horses. From fitness training to the learning behaviour of horses - you can read it all here. The blog is written by Karolina Kardel from 360 Grad Pferd.

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