I met Mathilde via the Equestrian Bloggers networking group on Facebook and was instantly captivated by her striking Icelandic paint gelding, Baldur with his blue eyes. My fascination only grew when I learned that in addition to competing in show jumping they also attend gaited competitions and train tackless! I knew that Mathilde was someone I wanted to learn more about.
Mathilde Kvernland of Mathilde and Baldur (passionforhorse.com) lives in Hamar, Norway. In between writing, riding and photography, she is busy studying a Bachelor of 3D Animation. After successfully building a Norwegian blog and winning blogger of the year in 2016, Mathilde decided to make the leap into blogging in English. She told me that, ” The platform that most Norwegian horse bloggers use is fairly small and not very user-friendly, so switching to my own website with a new blogging platform was almost a relief. I do of course miss the Norwegian “atmosphere” there, but I am very happy about how much my blog has developed until now!”
How did you find yourself in the world of horses?
I have always been in love with horses, I think I have loved them since birth. I started off as a little girl with big dreams, mostly just drawing bad pictures of horses before I was allowed to start taking lessons. Of course the movie “Spirit” really made the horse lover bloom. I was allowed to start taking classes in 2008, and I was so happy. In 2009 I started leasing horses. And from that year up to 2015, I had leased about 10-15 different horses. From Norwegian Fjord Horses, Warmblooded Trotters and street mixes (as we call mixed breeds in Norway). And in 2015 I met Baldur, the horse of my life.
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What is it that you love about horses and riding?
The one thing I love the most in horses is that I get this feeling of freedom. Like I can do anything and be anyone. No one is stopping me and I can breathe, be relaxed. I have a silent partner who comes when I call and hugs me when I am feeling down. It’s like having a best friend and a soulmate in one. He doesn’t care what I look like and I feel like I can be myself with him.
Tell us about Baldur and how he came into your life?
It all started when I was leasing another Icelandic horse, and I wanted to buy him. So I asked around for boarding, and everything was way over my budget (I wasn’t even allowed to buy a horse at this point, but I still looked). So I came across a boarder and I talked a bit with her. Her barn was full, but she asked me if I wanted to try out her horse for lease, at least for the time being. So I agreed to meet the horse, and this horse was Baldur. My first impression of him was that he was the most adorable little horse I had seen in my entire life. So how could I ever say no? This was in January 12, 2015, the first time I laid eyes on my heart horse.
I understand that you train Baldur’s native gaits including tölt, what does this entail?
Working tölt can seem very similar to dressage, at least the way I work him. But in tölt, you want the horse to have a high headseat and to use their hind ends. So that is what we are working on in tölt, to raise his front and lower his back end, and collect all the power in the front again. It isn’t as easy to explain really, it’s something that has to be experienced!
Can you tell us about the process of training Baldur to be ridden tackless?
The reason we started riding tackless was actually because me and Baldur had quite a struggle in the start. We actually had four months where he would refuse to trot, and instead he would tölt or bolt. It was a bit terrifying and very frustrating for both of us! So as a last resort, I took off all his tack, jumped on tackless (this was in a round pen), and he started trotting like it was the only thing he knew. So I took it from there, learnt to cooperate with Baldur, and we gradually added more tack. Now, we trot with no problem! And we ride tackless for fun and variation (and for me to learn to ride with my seat and keep balanced)!
What are your goals with Baldur and in riding more generally?
My goals with Baldur are to just keep getting better at the tölt, and of course have a good time doing it. I also wish to become even better at riding tackless and improve our communication!
What advice would you have for other riders?
My best advise is to be patient and never rush anything. I have learned so much about patience since I first met Baldur. He never accepted me rushing things, so I learned the hard way to take my time and not get frustrated if things didn’t work out. And of course, love your horse!
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Baldur has recently been diagnosed with benign cancer for which Mathilde is still seeking advice regarding treatment options. We are sending our love across the globe and wishing Baldur a speedy recovery when he does undergo treatment.