Some of you may have met Richard and Patricia Moore. Some years ago, they graciously invited the Icelandic Association of Washington to their farm in Virginia, where they kept their Icelandic horses (sometimes referred to as “ponies” because of their size). Members had a great time picnicking and riding the horses.
Rich is from Boston where he studied at Boston College during the late 1950s and early 1960s. While in college, a friend invited him to an Irish Céilí dance where he met a fellow student named Pat, who is from Wallingford, Connecticut. The two fell in love and married shortly after Pat’s graduation in 1962. They have a son and two daughters.
Rich joined the Army shortly after graduation from BC and was posted all over the world. The family first moved to Northern Virginia in 1972. In 1982 Rich retired from the Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Being a Russian-speaker, he worked for many years after that for the Federal Government on arms control negotiations and inspections. Pat managed community activities in Burke and later in Clifton, Virginia. They bought a five-acre farm in 1988 and in 1999 the 10-acre farm next door where their daughter and her family live. They have had plenty of room for their horses.
Pat and Rich first started riding horses during a vacation in Australia in 1998. They had looked for hobbies to spend time together, tried tennis and golf, but did not find them satisfactory. They finally decided that they both could ride horses. They took lessons and did trail rides in Virginia and later in the western parts of the US including Wyoming, and Arizona. They looked for trail riding in the Eastern US and found a farm in Vermont using Icelandic horses. They met their first “Icelandic” (the four-legged variety) on the farm in 2001. At the time they had no idea what an “Icelandic” was. They gave it a try and were pleasantly surprised by the unique gait of Icelandic horses, called “tölt” that allows riders to enjoy their rides more comfortably than any other gait. The Icelandic horse Pat rode, Nota, struck her as sociable and easygoing, and the impression stayed with her. When she was riding, a tree limb fell on the two of them. Nota turned her head and looked gravely at Pat as if to say: “There’s something on my neck. Can you please remove it?” Pat had ridden on Shetland ponies in her youth, whom she describes as small and nasty. Later she rode Arabians, which she describes as easily spooked.
After returning from Vermont, they bought their first Icelandic in 2001, shortly after that a second one especially for Pat, a third horse for their daughter, and eventually a fourth one for their granddaughter. Now they have three horses – Glanni from Pennsylvania, and Riddari and Vindur from Iceland.
In 2002, along with a group of owners of Icelandics in the Mid-Atlantic states, Rich and Pat became founding members of a riding club, called the Frida Icelandic Riding Club. Members of the club are mainly from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. At different times, Rich and Pat have both been elected president of the club, which had 80 members at its peak.
Pat has this to say about her people-friendly Icelandics. If an Icelandic were to see two persons standing together in the field and yakking away, it would walk up to join the discussion and ask, “Where’s the beer?” Another time, when one of the barn cats ventured into Glanni’s stall, the horse gently grabbed the cat by the scruff of its neck and carried it outside because the cat clearly did not belong in the barn. The cat did not appreciate this attention.
The Moore’s first trip to Iceland was in 2005, well after they started owning Icelandics. Rich organized a riding vacation near Selfoss in South Iceland for the Frida club members. Rich had one harrowing experience with Icelandics on that trip. He spurred his horse too vigorously with his heels, and the horse shot off like an arrow. Colorful curses flew out of Rich’s mouth as he hung on for dear life. Guðmar Pétursson, the leader of the group, turned to Rich’s granddaughter and asked: “Have you ever heard your grandfather use this kind of language before?” She replied: “all the time.” Rich also organized and led a drill team of horses for the club that appeared in many parades and shows.
Their daughter came with them to a Þorrablót at the Icelandic Association in Washington DC, where she won a raffle trip for two to Iceland. Since she could not go on the trip, she gave her tickets to her parents. Rich and Pat had a wonderful time, and thus continued an affection that extended well beyond the four-legged Icelandics. Their entire family, including children and grandchildren, have since enjoyed two more visits to Iceland.