Back in the good old days.


When I was 8 years old, my parents bought a summer cottage in Blekinge in Brännarebygden. As Danes, we translated this to “Brännvinsbyn” (Brandy Village) and had a bit of fun with it. It was a small cottage about 3 km from the paved road, situated all by itself. There were 3 acres of land, and we were completely bewildered that the previous owners had lived there for many years and had survived on what they grew in the rocky soil. The old man had occasionally had some extra work in the quarry a couple of kilometers away. There was electricity and a telephone, but we had to fetch water from a spring about 100 meters from the house.

I was a bit upset because there was no stable, unlike the place we had looked at before, and I wanted space for the pony my father had once mentioned I might be able to have. My parents were from Copenhagen and barely knew what a horse was; they probably thought it couldn’t be harder than buying a rabbit for the kid!

However, I soon fell in love with the place, where you could go down and fish not far from the house, and I loved the big rocks you could climb on. It was then and there that I decided that as soon as I grew up, I would move to Sweden.

But what could one do after fishing in the morning, when Mom refused to fry the small fish I had caught? Well, you could walk down to the farms you had seen along the gravel road on the way to the house. Surely they must have cats if they lived like that 🙂

At the first farm, no one was home, but I had time on my side and went to the next one. I knocked on the door and asked if I could give their cat some fish if they had a cat. They did! They also had a dog, cows, pigs, and a horse!

The man, named Sven, immediately noticed my great interest and showed me around the farm. He was so incredibly kind to me, and it turned out that his children were grown and had moved to the city and were not interested in inheriting the farm, but here was someone who soaked up everything. We became very good friends, and their cats got plenty of fish, and I started taking walks with the dog, who otherwise didn’t get much exercise between hunts. I mucked out the cows’ stalls and helped as much as I could. To my great delight, he thought I should get to ride the horse, but Dolan, as the horse was called, thought otherwise.

I think she had some hormonal issues; she was what they called back then a “pissemärr” who whinnied and jumped when you did something she didn’t like. Sven had never ridden her, but she had been driven a lot. Imagine my surprise when Sven just grabbed her mane, swung his leg over her (she wasn’t small), and rode off with her. He rode her back and forth a bit and concluded that now she was broken in! Then I was lifted up, and yes, it went well.

Now he couldn’t get rid of me. Imagine having a horse you could ride. I was there every day during the entire summer vacation, helping as much as I could in exchange for a little ride.

He told me that Dolan had always been “special” with her temperament, but her mother had been the best horse he ever had. She was a real trooper; he loved that horse. He made the mistake of lending her to a neighbor once, he told me, and the neighbor had driven her so hard that she became sweaty. This was in winter, and he just let her stand in the cold, so she got laminitis and was never the same again. Poor Sven had tears in his eyes when he talked about her.

Since I was there all day, I was also invited for coffee and sometimes dinner. I couldn’t go there and starve, thought Signe. Never had I had such food. It was homemade stone oven bread with freshly churned butter, fresh strawberries from the garden, and milk straight from the cow. Even though I was a child, I felt an enormous difference when the food came straight from the source, and I enjoyed it immensely.

I hope and believe I gave something to Sven and Signe back then; they certainly gave something wonderful to me. It was an enormous sorrow when Sven died a few years later of lung cancer, probably from the hard work and the dust in the quarry. I will never forget him; he taught me a lot about the forest and the animals, and he also taught me how to milk!

In the picture, Dolan and I, with a borrowed military saddle, are riding home to visit my parents, who were standing on the steps, terrified.

Author: Anne Axell

I have helped many equestrians with their mindset and relationship with their horse, so they now are confident and enjoy the equestrian sport. Thanks to my extensive experience with horses, I can lead you to success in your riding. I have been actively riding the different riding styles,(dressage, hunter/jumper and trail) owened a lot of horses and have an equestrian business. l have also been breeding and selling horses for many years. I am a coach and trainer and have also completed courses as a judge. In addition, I have been a saddlemaker for many years and can advise you in terms of equipment and how it affects your horse. I can help you in 3 langauge, Danish, Swedish and English.