Explore Winter - Sweden

Explore Winter and Ice Hotel

5 star rating   29 January 2022

Sandra (this is their first In The Saddle holiday) Riding in a snowy winter wonderland on well schooled Icelandic horses - with lots of other exciting experiences | The riding was well planned and enjoyable. The stables were well run, organised and warm (important when its 20 below!). The staff leading the rides were delightful and gave good instructions. They knew the character and abilities of the horses very well and gave tips for each horse. They matched the horses to the individual rider's ability and personality. The horses were healthy and happy and well cared for. No bad behavior and willing. Although I have ridden for years, my husband has only been riding for 6 months and he had a wonderful experience. Tack was well maintained and saddles comfortable. We had 3 lessons while we were there as well as the hacks to help us with the 5 gaited horses. Instruction was excellent. One of the lessons was on the oval track - flying round the track on the ice in tolt and canter... good job the horses had studs! We were joined by a moose on one of our lessons as he ambled across the school. The instruction meant that both my husband and I were able to give the aids to tolt and we also had ground lessons to help with suppleness of the horses.
The hacks through the forests were during the day and night rides ( its dark at around 4pm) Tolting and cantering through forests on crisp snow in the dark with horses we could trust was a fantastic experience. Quite emotional.
While we were there there were parties of tourists from the nearby Ice Hotel - some of them with no experience of riding at all. They all enjoyed their trips out despite never having ridden before and were very well chaperoned and looked after. For the holiday experience we had though, staying at the farm and going out each day, it would be difficult to get the best out of it if you couldn't trot and canter easily before you went. You also bring in the horses, clean and tack them up so knowledge of horse care is needed too. We have our own horses so not a problem but some steeper learning for one of our group - "first catch your horse..."
There was a room filled with hats, balaclavas, wool socks, snow riding boots, padded overalls, wool trousers, jumpers, gloves etc to borrow. No reason to not ride because of the weather. No need to spend loads of money on kit if you don't want to ( though I liked the excuse for a new padded jacket) just good warm base layers needed.
We felt safe with the horses and well cared for by the staff.

The Riding

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The Accommodation

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The accommodation was a warm and cosy no fills 'farmhouse'. My husband and I had twin beds pushed together and there were two other rooms one with twin beds and one with bunk beds. We shared the house with a German and a Dutch lady. There was a shared kitchen and two bathrooms. I was never cold despite 20 below and I'm normally a lizard when it comes to being cosy.
The food was fantastic if you like locally sourced home cooked food which I do. Reindeer, moose meat and salmon. The moose was like lush steak! nom nom nom. They had sauces and desserts made from the local berries such as lingonberry and cloud berry and drinks from the flowers such as 'moose grass' (bit like elderflower). We had several meals cooked over an open fire while out. Some in the wilderness and some in the 'teepees'.
I took my own Yorkshire tea and was glad as I am not a coffee drinker and they tend to have just Earl Grey and fruit teas in most of the area we were in -including the Airport. Luckily no one commented on the crazy Brit who brought her own tea bags.

Before Your Holiday

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Plan and prepare for your holiday?
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We were very pleased with the help from In the Saddle. Loved the little wallet with all the stuff in it. There were changes of itinerary during the week to make the most of the weather and what else is going on. We were happy with that and just went with the flow. We were able to have additional 'lessons' and they accommodated changes from the other guests. A couple of the guests (not from In the Saddle) however did want to stick to the programme they had been sent so would be worth pointing out that flexibility is needed before folks arrive and expect it to be exactly like described.

Take English Breakfast Tea bags!

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It was a lovely holiday. We are already planning where to go next time and will go with In the Saddle again. My husband, who had learnt to ride to come with me, has been inspired to continue his lessons for the next adventure.
[Becky from In The Saddle replies: Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback and it's lovely to hear all about your experiences in Sweden! Well done to Jon for learning to ride and I'm sure it made the holiday even more special for you both.]

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This was more than just a riding holiday for us. A night in the ice hotel in minus 5 overnight.
We went dog sledding ( exhilarating) , reindeer mushing pulling us on a sled ( they can really move!) and rode snow mobiles over the frozen lake and into the wilderness. We were hosted by a Sami family for the reindeer day and learnt all about the culture. Topped off with a fantastic Northern lights show and rare 'mother of pearl' in the skies during the day this ticked many of the things on my 'bucket list'.
The people we met on holiday will be friends. Our hosts for the holiday and their staff were professional, fun and had a deep knowledge and respect of horses and the land they were in.