Horseback Riding on a Ranch in the Swedish Mountains

Trumvallen is an old summer farm, a shieling, just a few kilometers from the Vemdalen Ski Area. The summer farm is a group of sun kissed log houses in different shades of grey with the beautiful backdrop of the Härjedalen mountains and pine forests. One of the houses holds a ranch where you can go horseback riding western style. A perfect activity if your legs just wohn´t last that whole week of skiing and you want to experience riding through a Swedish winter wonderland.  

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Most of us had never tried riding western style before. Photo: Anette Anddersson

Getting the Hang of It

At first it felt strange riding western style, sitting on a high horse and riding on a path through deep snow, but the horses were as calm as the surrounding landscape embedded in a fairytale layer of snow and we soon got the hang of it. We rode slowly in a line through a layer of meter high powder snow through a pine forest. Further away we could sense the silhouettes of the surrounding mountains that hazy winter´s day. A faint sunlight painted a fantastic pattern on the snow as it beamed through the trees.

 

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The horses move surprisingly smooth in spite of their weight. Photo: Anette Andersson

Like in a Western Movie

Before the tour we were given instructions on how to communicate with the horses to make them go where we wanted them to go, how to start and stop. As an inexperienced rider it was amazing to see how this actually worked. We were riding neckreining, meaning riding holding the reins in one hand. We felt like we were stars in a movie about the wild west.

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We were given instructions on how to make the horses understand us. Photo: Anette Andersson

The Trustworthy North Swedish Breed

The snow flies around the horses as they move through the forest. The large horses move smoothly in spite of their massive bodies and they radiate strength.

The breed is called North Swedish and is one of three swedish breeds of horses. This breed was traditionally used for forestry and agricultural work. It is agile and easy to work with, strong and durable. Typical characters for the North Swedish horse is that it is gentle and willing. It is also known for its longevity and good health.

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Hanna in full speed, riding through the snow. Photo: Anette Andersson

Through the Forest and Deep Snow

Our ride is called the forest tour and it lasts for 1,5 hours. We are riding on a trail and we noticed just how deep the snow is on the side of the trail as we made an attempt to make a new trail and the horses sunk up to their noses. 

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Winter riding through deep snow at Trumvallen summer grazing farm in Destination Vemdalen. Photo: Anette Andersson
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Riding through the forest by Trumvallen summer grazing farm. Photo: Anette Andersson

Hard to Say Goodbye

Back at the ranch we feel a bit sad to leave the horses as we have started to bond with them. Their friendly eyes watched us from behind the forelock and as we pet them goodbye they made a sort of snorting sound.

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It was hard to say goodbye to our new friends. Photo: Anette Andersson

Shielings in Jämtland Härjedalen

Shielings are small scale farms used in the summer to save the harvest by the regular farm for winter. Nature and the surrounding landscape forms the conditions of shielings and where it is possible to maintain them. Sometimes one farm has a shieling of their own and in some cases a whole village has a group of summer farms forming a larger shieling. There are lots of houses in a shieling: living quarters, stables, milk production facilities, storages for products, firewood and grains.

The milk is taken care of and turned into products in the shieling: butter, cheese and whey butter. Today there are other kinds of transportation and storage  and therefore shielings are not so abundant as they once were.

The growing interest in locally produced foods leads to an awakening interest in shielings. In the region Jämtland Härjedalen there are about 20 working shielings today with animals roaming freely in the summer. Some of these welcome visitors and sell their products along with coffee and waffles and thin leavened bread (tunnbröd).

In Vemdalen there is another shieling belonging to Nybo gård. It is called Vikarvålvallen and serve food in the summer. Nybo gård was appointed Economusée in 2018.

By the National Park Sonfjället close to Hede there is a shieling called Nyvallens fäbod with mountain cattle grazing on the slopes of Sonfjället.

In Östra Arådalen, Oviksfjällen, there is a shieling  with mountain cattle grazing side by side with reindeer. The shieling produces cellar matured cheese. Go there by the Fäbodvägen road leading between Persåsen and Börtnan to see a large number of old shielings. Today most of these are privately owned and used as summer houses.

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Trumvallen is an old shieling, summer grazing farm, with a ranch. Photo: Anette Andersson

A Dream Come True

The Trumvallen Horse Ranch is managed by Johan Persson and Hanna Högberg on land inherited through generations on Johan´s side. Managing the ranch the way they do it today is living the dream.

It is just amazing meeting people from all corners of the earth and hearing their life stories during a ride, says Johan in a passionate voice.

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Johan Persson has made his dream come true - mountain riding western style. Photo: Anette

A Sleigh Ride with Jingle Bells as an Extra Treat

Johan gave us an extra treat that day and told us to get into the old wooden sleigh and sweep those thick furs around us. He quickly made one of the horses ready and then he took us on a sleigh ride around the Trumvallen shieling. The horse started trotting on the wintery road like it wasn´t pulling anything…

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The treat of the day was a sleigh ride in an old fashioned wooden sleigh. Photo: Anette Andersson

We´ll Be Back

The ride was both peaceful and exciting, definitively giving us a taste for more!

Hanna told us about one of the summer tours to a nearby mountain top, Oxsjövålen, some 1 000 m. a. s. l. with an outdoor lunch cooked by the lake Oxsjön. She also told us that we were welcome to join in summer to help herding the cows from one summer grazing spot to another and staying in shielings, cooking our meals over open fire.

Now we knew we had to be back!

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Multi day tour Mountain riding at Trumvallen with a wood fired spa in the outdoors. Photo: Margareta Johansson
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Herding cattle western style with the ski area of Vemdalen in the back. Photo: Cyroo.se

HERE’S THE SKINNY

ACTIVITY

Mountain horseback riding

SEASON

The riding tours at Trumvallen are on offer summer and winter. In winter the tours are a bit shorter due to the colder climate. Tours for smaller children where the parents lead the horses are 30 minutes long around the shieling. Sleigh rides are offered both during the day and in the evening to a nearby cottage for some snacks and coffee.

START

Trumvallen, 12 kilometers from the Ski Area Vemdalen in Destination Vemdalen of Sweden.

DIFFICULTY

Esy-medium

SKILLS

No need for previous experience. Tours are adapted to the skill of the group. Experienced riders can go for tours on their own För alla, både för vuxna och barn. Erfarna ryttare kan erbjudas fri ridning under eget ansvar. Åldersgräns för att rida själv på egen häst är cirka 10 år, lite beroende på tidigare erfarenhet.

MAXIMUM 

Maximum eight participants per group to maintain quality of the tour.

HORSE BREEDS

Most horses are North Sweden Horses. The Ranch also holds Quarter ponies, American Paints and Warmbloods.

GEAR

Wear sturdy shoes, warm clothes and gloves. Helmets are available at the Ranch.

TRAVEL

Getting to Vemdalen: Fly to Åre Östersund airport or Stockholm Arlanda. Take the train, bus, Taxi Transfer or rent a car to get to Vemdalen.  

FOOD & LODGING

There are hotels, apartments, cabins, camping and hostels in Vemdalen. Supermarkets for making your own meals or choose one of the restaurants serving local foods.

ARE WE MISSING SOMETHING?

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