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Posted on December 30, 2020
Wishing a Happy New Year to all of our lovely clients. As you turn the page of your 2021 In The Saddle calendar, we thought we’d begin the new year by delving into the beautiful snow of northern Sweden. If you haven’t received a calendar and would like one, please complete this form. Only postage to pay.
Seen here dashing through the snow are three lovely Icelandic horses from the Explore Winter ride:
Máttur, a chestnut gelding who has been at Ofelas for many years. He is 4-gaited, well-schooled and just wants to please his rider.
Tigull is a lovely piebald gelding. He takes care of riders of all levels, but saves his best moves for those who are experienced in the saddle.
Fengur, on the right of the picture, has been at Ofelas since he was 5 years old. He is very obedient and well-trained, but his downfall is food and he eats rather too much!
Being hardy, with great stamina, the Icelandic breed is perfect for exploring a winter wonderland. Icelandic horses have two additional gaits – the ‘tölt’ which is an extremely smooth four beat running walk and ‘pace’ where the hooves on the same side touch the ground together.
The horses in Sweden are mostly purchased from Iceland, where they are reared in herds in a natural environment with plenty of space to roam. They are specially selected for the Explore Winter ride and Ratekjokk Trail, chosen for their willing natures, good paces and pleasant characters.
If you’ve been around horses in the winter, you’ll know how snow can get compacted in their shoes. So how can this be prevented?
To prepare for going out in the snow, the horses in Sweden are shod with stud holes and ridden with 2 or 4 studs in each shoe. Snow pads are also used for part of the winter.
Some of the horses are not shod for a while during the winter months and these horses are just ridden in the forest, not on a road or in the paddocks where the going can get slippery. Generally it is the horses who are in really good shape and have great balance that can go barefoot.
During the winter months in the far north of Sweden, temperatures can get down to -22°C. So when going out in the elements, riders must have the right gear.
Thermal overalls, or thermal trousers and jacket are essential. Sturdy winter boots, a fleece, woollen/silk base layers, a hat to go under your riding helmet, gloves and mittens are also needed to make sure you stay warm during all the activities on offer.
The secret to warmth is lots of thin layers that will trap warm air. The layers should not be tight, as looser garments allow warm air to be trapped between the layers – this will help keep you warmer, whilst still allowing you to move freely.
Aside from riding fabulous Icelandic horses in the snow, what is so special about the Explore Winter trip?
When you are not exploring forests and rural paths on horseback under a magical blanket of snow, you also get the chance to try snowmobiling, ice fishing, reindeer herding.
There are also plenty of opportunities to learn about the culture and traditions of the Sami people.
Dog sledding can be organised at additional cost – what a thrill!
Whilst out riding, you are likley to see reindeer and moose on the trails or in the forests. This area is also home to bear, wolverine, golden eagle, elk and rare Arctic fox.
What’s more, there’s a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
For five nights you stay at the horses’ base next to the river Kalix, but one night is extra special, as you head to the village of Jukkasjärvi to spend a night at the Ice Hotel.
We think the winter wonderland setting, the riding and range of other activities must make this trip the ultimate winter experience! The Explore Winter ride runs from December through to March, so what about planning ahead for December 2021 or early 2022.
If you’d like more details, please call us on +44 1299 272 997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org