In English

Charmed by cute and fluffy icelandic horses

The distant vistas can’t be seen much from Kotilaki hill due to snowfall, but the most important things are the memories from the trip.

It's a hectic day in the tourism business at Levi, but there are some that are taking it as easy as possible. And that’s how it should be.

The day’s riding treks are being prepared at Lapin Saaga stables and their little fluffy horses have been gathered in their feeding shelter to have their riding equipment put on. Customers going on treks have a chance to get to know their horse and adjust the stirrups to be the right height with the help of a riding guide.

– This is Jorma, our diesel engine, Iina Suoranta tells Terhi Tammi and pats the black gelding on its flank.

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Jorma is a typical Icelandic horse used for taking customers on treks at the Lapin Saaga stables. Fluffy, cute and calm and no need to be scared about riding him.

When we start our trek, our line of horses walks along a road and we are passed by about twenty Volkswagen electric cars of different sizes, models and colours on their way towards the centre of Sirkka. The horses are not bothered in the slightest. When we reach the snowy forests and travel through them, we are passed by snowmobiles, a very excited puppy, people, large snow machines, smaller working machines and even an aeroplane flying over us.

– Jorma has his cruise control activated” Suoranta laughs when the gelding just waddles on steadily with his ears towards the sides and eyes almost closed.

His cruise control has been set a few notches lower than the other horses however, meaning that Jorma is constantly left behind. Suoranta knows this from prior experience, and has allocated the slightly slower horses in the middle of the line, and stops once in a while to wait for him to catch up.

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The horses create a path through the snowy forests where they step in each other's prints and the going is very steady and calm. Faster riding styles are possible on the forest roads since they are much more level. Safety first!

Lapin Saaga at Levi has had Icelandic horses since 1997 when entrepreneur Hannele Kaarela’s daughter Susanna was a young girl and liked horses. The family wanted horses that were as safe as possible and this is why they chose icelandic horses. It did not feel right to take just one herd animal, and this is why there were two in the very beginning.

– We got Irpa and Jörä, Kaarela recalls smiling.

Irpa has since passed on, but Jörä still lives an active life as a 34-year old senior gent in the herd and even takes light customers out on short trips sometimes, although not very often.

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MAINOS - mainos päättyy

After the original horses arrived, enquiries started. Many were interested and asked if they could come and ride the horses. And this was the beginning of the story of Lapin Saaga. This entrepreneur-orientated family first got six more horses and slowly it has grown from there. Now Lapin Saaga hosts more than twenty horses at Levi and seven more at Virpiniemi, at Susanna's stable.

It has not always been smooth sailing however. The tourism industry fluctuates greatly with volcanic ash clouds, pandemics and Brexit, which all affect customer numbers significantly. Horses have to eat every day however.

Making money for entrepreneurs working with horses is often not easy, especially if they want to look after their horses well. The vet and the farrier are expensive, but essential calls that have to be made regularly.

– I do this for my love of entrepreneurship and my love of horses; money isn’t everything, Kaarela says.

For her, the best feedback is when people notice how well kept the Icelandic horses are at Lapin Saaga. Workers rights are also taken very seriously. Many larger travel agents would be interested in bringing riders to this small stable, but Keskitalo won’t take them all. She wants the horses to live their lives as well as possible, and going round in tiny circles changing rider every ten minutes isn’t that. Their horses go on different lengths of treks every day, lasting from an hour to a full day out.

Not everyone can ride these horses however; their weight limit is around 95kg. An Icelandic horse cannot carry more than that and some not even that much. Their horses have been assorted by size and qualities to carry A, B or C weight classes.

There is one danger that cannot be stressed enough at an Icelandic horse stable; a living example of this is their permanent guide Iina, who guides the group from the back of Sulo.

Iina Suoranta explains how to walk with the horse along the side of the road.

– When I spent my holidays here, I would visit the stable multiple times a week. One spring I got a job offer and my whole family moved there, she laughs.

Our troupe of Icelandic horses climb to the top of Kotivaara, our guide Suoranta jumps off her horse and we start taking photos. It’s snowing gently, the sky is grey and the clouds hang low. These might not be nature photos of the year, but this one picture might be the most important memory of the customers’ holiday at Levi.

See you on your next holiday!

Calm and good-natured horses suit everyone

Lapin Saaga Icelandic horse stable at Levi organises riding treks in fell scenery for beginners and for advanced riders. Treks are also offered in English, since as many as 75% of their customers are foreign.

There is no need for prior experience to join these horse riding treks, since these gentle and kind horses will take even total beginners on their backs calmly into the forests.

– If a rider has no prior experience then we recommend for them to be at least 12 years of age, but it's not set in stone. We have a route that is easy and safe where we take riders from the age of 8 years old,” tells Hannele Kaarela.

Younger children can take part in a fairytale riding trek, where their parents will walk the horses.

Hannele Kaarela tells us that the small stature of Icelandic horses brings with it a feeling of safety as well as being really friendly by nature.

– One of the most wonderful things about Icelandic horses is that they are just so calm and polite by nature. Sometimes they can be a bit cheeky, like children, but mostly they behave well and are very safe. Icelandic horses are so cute that it would be a surprise if people didn’t smile when seeing them.

Ilmoita asiavirheestä