Last weekend I got a phone call from a friend I had met at the Norwegian riding green card course a few weeks prior, asking if I’d like to come riding with her. Ummm… YES! She said that the woman who owns the stables where she keeps her horses had a horse for me to ride. I spoke with the owner, and it was all set!
I woke up early that morning, had breakfast with Rasmus and ran out the door with a backpack stuffed full of my riding boots, helmet, gloves, and water. I speed walked down to the train station where I picked up a coffee at the 7-11 and waited for my train to take me out to Lier, the horse capital of Norway. The train came and I logged into the wifi and began scrolling through the suggestions page on my Instagram. Twenty minutes later I arrived in Lier and hopped into the car with my friend Anne-Lene, and her daughter Maren, and we drove out to the barn.
As we pulled in, it was exactly what I had imagined. Atop a hill, overlooking a valley full of farms and fjords, was a beautiful white farmhouse, stables, and riding arena. I instantly began uploading videos to my Instastory! The sky was clear and sunny, the air was warm and smelled of fresh cut grass.
We went into the stable and Anne-Lene showed me around, pointed out the tack and equipment for my horse, and we cleaned the stalls. The barn was picture perfect. We then walked out to the pastures to catch the horses who were turned out for fresh air. My horse, Wille (“Villa”), was way down in the forest area. As we were walking down I saw a horseshoe stuck in the now dried up mud, I hoped it wasn’t from Wille!
When we got down to the bottom of the forest, there he was. A big gleaming bay (brown) horse with a coy yet boyish look on his face – I hooked on my lead rope… and he wouldn’t move. I could see he enjoyed this little game of not walking and Anne-Lene tapped him with a soft leafy branch, then he began walking. Unfortunately, Anne-Lene noticed his missing shoe!!! No!!!
We got up to the barn and called his owner Kristine. She came out from the house, examined the pulled shoe, brought out her emergency farrier kit and got to work! Like a true Norwegian. She banged the crookedness out of the shoe but realized it wouldn’t work. Luckily, she had a pile of pulled shoes that her farrier had straightened out for cases like this. She found a suitable one, evened out the hoof, tacked the shoe on, and finished it off! Not too much longer, and I had tacked up Wille with his beautiful Prestige equipment (VERY popular in Norway! Suitably, this is my favorite brand!) – not to forget the amazing Free-Jump stirrups!. Maren had taken her horse out ahead of time for a bareback ride, so Anne-Lene and I warmed up the horses and hit the trails!
We walked up a long dirt road, only encountering one passerby, an older woman walking with ski poles, other than that it was an open road and we picked up the pace! We trotted past fields, farmhouses and streams. The grade of the terrain began to increase, and we ducked under tress and into a small entrance to the forest. We began to climb up a narrow path edged by massive trees. The mountain surfaces in Norway are large flat rocks not dirt, which I’ve never ridden on before. Wille handled the terrain with ease, climbing the steep and sometimes slippery hills like an agile rock climber.
At one point, as the massive warmblood horse beneath me breathed heavily, steam rising off his neck, working with all his might to gain footing to reach the top of the mountain, I peeked over my left shoulder for just a second to a view I can only describe as sublime. I had put all my trust in this horse to carry me safely up the slippery, rocky, steep and energy consuming mountain, to take a moment to take in a sight I’ll never forget: light green grass in the valleys, cut by bright blue fjords, scattered with spots of brown horses and cattle, and framed by the dark green trees that I was engulfed in.
I turned my head forward and we were at a road again, we picked up a gallop and sped up the winding, curving path. We were going so fast that our eyes were watering from the wind, but our faces were warm from the sun, our mouths full of gleeful laughter, and our hearts full of joy. We reached the top of the mountain, and that’s where I saw the full view from it’s highest point. Some people express feelings of being at the “top of the world” when at landmarks like the Eiffel tower or a skyscraper in NYC, but being on the back of a big beautiful horse, on a Norwegian mountaintop, after a euphoric ascend, to be catching your breath while overlooking one of the most beautiful and natural valleys in the world, next to a little red farmer owned cabin with Norwegian wood carvings, takes the cake.
Until next time ♡