The Horses´s GPS.

The Horse’s GPS.

The horse always finds its way home! Well, that’s partially true 🙂 I have personally observed that when you’re out in the woods far from home, you just need to give the horse loose reins, and it will find its way back. There have been numerous attempts and research into this over the years, so there must be some truth to it. However, I wonder how this GPS works? Because it’s certain that if a horse has broken through a fence and you try to get it back the same way, it never finds it! I’ve experienced several times that my horses (mostly young ones) have escaped from the pasture and gone for a run. One can understand that to some extent, as there’s always greener grass on the other side. However, it never takes long before they want to come back, as it’s actually quite dangerous on the other side, and sometimes there are a couple of horses that have refused to leave the safety of the pasture and have chosen to stay. If you’re really “lucky,” they’ll run back into the pasture, but through a different spot than where they got out, and rush straight through the fence again. I’ve never experienced them going back to the spot where there was a hole and going back in there. It’s never worked for me, even though I’ve tried enticing them with various things to get them back the same way; they are completely oblivious. Horses also have a fantastic sense for freshly sown areas and beautiful flower beds! There’s nothing better than exploring such delicate places, and the owner gets lovely hoof prints to remember the best horse, who just thought it was helping 🙂 Even more fun when it’s the neighbor’s flower beds. The strange thing about this GPS is that it works very well in one direction. If there’s a gap in the fence or a moose has gone through and cleared the path, the horses always find it. I’ll never forget one time many years ago; we had spent the whole day fixing fences, everything was in tip-top shape, and we let our mares out into a wonderful pasture. There was deer fencing around most of it, so we were completely confident they’d stay in there. However, we had forgotten a small gate deep in the woods where the horses never usually went, but it didn’t take long for them to discover our mistake. We had our anniversary the next day and had planned to have a picnic in the woods and enjoy a cozy day. At 6 in the morning, the neighbor called to say the horses were passing by their yard. So, it was time to go look for them. Our cozy day had suddenly disappeared. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences; one could probably write a whole book 🙂 I’ve never found joy in putting up or repairing fences, and we’ve always had huge pastures, so it was almost a full-time job, and if you ask the horses, they’d probably say it was unnecessary to have fences 🙂

Always Curios!

One of my experiences… yes, now I’m writing about myself again, but it seems like my memories also evoke memories in others, so here it goes:

Yes, curiosity has been my greatest asset, so I’ve done a lot in my life. I’m extremely grateful for having been able to experience all the things I have, but sometimes it has also required me to go quite far out of my comfort zone. My husband often says that I have ADHD, and he might be close to the truth 🙂

In 1978, I was 20 years old and hadn’t yet obtained my driver’s license. I wasn’t much into cars and thought I managed perfectly fine without one, so it was somewhat of a principle thing. It was probably mostly because my boyfriend insisted on teaching me to drive (everyone was supposed to have a driver’s license), and I managed to make his Lada jump in place after releasing the clutch a bit too early. It took a while before we managed to stop it because we were laughing so much that we couldn’t concentrate on turning off the car. I have this thing that when I’ve said I’ll accomplish something, I will, and so it was easier to say that I didn’t need a driver’s license.

However, I had to change my decision when I received an offer… If I could get my driver’s license and drive a guy to Hungary to watch the World Championships in four-in-hand driving, I would get the trip. He even offered to practice driving with me so it would be quick. With a purpose and such a fantastic offer, it wasn’t that difficult for me. I passed both the theory and driving test on the first attempt. Then I could actually pat myself on the back as I took my driving test right in the middle of Copenhagen 🙂

We drove in a Volvo 142, which was very “in” at that time. The Amazon was old-fashioned, so it was a real luxury ride 🙂 I drove almost 140 km on the German autobahn with my six-week-old driver’s license. This was before the fall of the Berlin Wall, so we saw the high fences at the borders and drove past Austria to avoid going through East Germany. It wasn’t much better at the Hungarian border, where they carried machine guns and checked all cars. You also needed a visa to enter the country. I often think about how different it is today and that the EU has actually done something good in its time.

It was worse when we arrived in Budapest with three lanes in each lane and a multitude of one-way streets. We saw one of the bridges three times from each direction before finding the way to the hotel. Believe it or not, there was no GPS. You had a map that you unfolded in the car so you couldn’t look out sometimes, and that’s how we made it to the hotel.

The event with the four-in-hand driving took place outside a town called Kecskemét. It was about 50 km from the hotel in Budapest, so we drove there every day and didn’t miss a second 🙂 It was an absolutely fantastic show and well worth all the effort. Watching the Hungarian folk dancers, the demonstration of Hungarian post, driving with all the different teams. Hungarians are incredibly skilled drivers, and they often use Lipizzaner horses, which are fast and easy to train.

Of course, we also watched the arrival and could talk to some people, which we did. You have to seize the opportunity, and you know, curious me 🙂 This led Christer Pålsson, who represented Sweden, to hear that we had driven all the way from Sweden to experience this, so we were allowed to sit in his carriage. In the picture, I’m wearing a white shirt, and we even got to go for a ride! It was the first time I sat in a carriage with four horses in front. I also petted Prince Charles’ horses and said hello to him. They were huge, not under 180, it was incredibly impressive.

I really liked Hungary back then, even though those who lived here probably didn’t have it so good, but as I said, it’s completely different today. We made it back home again, as you can see I’m still alive, and I’ve made the trip many times since then. Nowadays, I live in Hungary, and perhaps it was my first visit here that made an impression on me. Who knows?

Many years ago in High Chaparral!

High Chaparral!

It seemed like my old memories were popular, so let’s continue to look back at horsekeeping from way back. This is from 1979

I’ve rarely sat still in a chair for long periods, and what does one do when crazy about horses and likes things happening? Well, you start working at High Chaparral. I was in the process of learning to be a saddlemaker with an old saddlemaker in Copenhagen when he got a visit from someone who had lived nearby. His name was Knut, and he worked at a place in Sweden called High Chaparral, and he thought they needed a saddlemaker. I was quite familiar with Sweden as my parents had a summer cottage in Blekinge, and I spoke almost fluent Swedish. I went there and liked what I saw, and I decided with the boss there that I could start in the summer. I was allowed to bring my horse (I didn’t want to be without him for a whole summer). High Chaparral was not at all like it is today, but more like a fort, much smaller, and everyone knew everyone.

When summer came and I was to move my horse, it had to be done in stages. It wasn’t so easy to bring horses to Sweden then. Markant had to stand in quarantine for a week, and I had arranged with an acquaintance that he could be housed there as he had a separate stable. My horse took it all calmly and adapted quickly. It wasn’t just about changing stables, but there were steam locomotives and people walking and shooting on the street, camels and bison, donkeys, and much more. We took it easy, and he learned gradually, and one might think it’s tough for a horse to come into that environment, but the fact is that they became traffic and gunshot proof, and I later took my stallion, who was 2 years old at the time, and he became traffic-safe and used to most things for the rest of his life.

The reason I bring this up is that sometimes there’s a tendency to try to avoid noise and commotion when with horses, with the result that they become afraid of everything. Spending entire days with the horses also yielded results, and we had fun together. I didn’t just work as a saddlemaker; I also drove the stagecoach and sometimes did pony rides and tourist rides. It was long days; we started at 7 in the morning and ended at 7 in the evening. We got accommodation and under-the-table pay, and then you could buy a cheap meal there, but I didn’t eat it often. It was mostly mix made from leftovers from the restaurant, but the breakfast was good.

I can agree that it wasn’t optimal horsekeeping. The stagecoach horses were hitched most of the day, but they got good food, and they went in large paddocks at night, and we took care of them as best we could. I was especially fond of mine, who were Lipizzaners named Wels and Fargo.

In our spare time, we stayed at the place to socialize and have a coffee, or ride together, and I really enjoyed it. I worked there for 3 years in the summer, but unfortunately, it’s not the same place today. Everything changes, and I thought it became too big. It wasn’t the same spirit, and you didn’t know half the people who worked there. Everything has its time, and I have many fun memories.

I tried to buy out my stagecoach horses when I quit, but they weren’t for sale then, but a couple of years later, I asked again. One of them was dead, but I managed to buy out the other and place it in a very good home where it could stay for the rest of its life.

In the picture, it’s me and Markant. He might not have been the most typical Western horse with his 173cm 🙂

Back in the old time!

To have a lively imagination and to do things oneself.

I’ve found another photo from the Stone Age when I had my first horse.

Check out the outfit!! This is over 50 years ago 🙂

The saddle pad is a worn-out old Afghan fur that was fashionable at the time, the browband homemade, and the bit way too thick 🙂 We didn’t know any better, but it was fun to come up with things and find items that could be used to make the horse look nice.

The horse itself was also untouched when I got him. 3 years old and on his way to the slaughterhouse, but he was saved by an animal-loving man and then I got him.

I called him Ali Baba, and I taught him a lot of tricks, like rearing and bucking on command. I also trained him to drive, and we had a lot of fun together. Having a horse was luxury, and owning it was absolutely fantastic.

I think about how much is done for us today. Nice saddle pads, bridles, and equipment in abundance, and most children who get a pony also get one that’s ready. Broken in, jumped, schooled, and trainers who can help.

I had to figure everything out myself, but it turned out pretty well, actually. I got to know my horse from the ground up, and we solved all problems together. Imagine if today’s youth would sew their own saddle pads and train their own ponies. Maybe there wasn’t so much time for Facebook back then?

You have to fall off your horse 100 times before you are a good rider!

You have to fall off the horse 100 times before you are a good rider!

Have you ever heard the expression in the horse world: ‘You have to fall off the horse 100 times before you’re a good rider’? It was common in riding schools when I rode (at least in my time, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth :)), and I’ve always thought it was a poor consolation when you were lying on the ground, writhing in pain. I don’t know who came up with that rhyme, but to me, it sounds like something an old rodeo rider would say.

What can you really learn from falling off a horse, besides that it hurts? Well, you can learn falling technique (which maybe should be introduced in riding schools), but you don’t learn to ride by falling off. Instead, you can learn other things, like why the horse threw you off, or maybe that you should have dismounted before the horse started acting up. In my world, you learn much more when you’re in the saddle than when you have fallen off your horse.

Imagine if the same thing were said in driving school: ‘You have to crash 100 times before you learn to drive a car’?

Being scared and timid doesn’t belong in a stable; you have to show the horse who’s boss!! That’s also an expression you’ve heard a number of times…

What if instead, we listened to the horse, cooperated, and did everything at the right pace? Can’t you become a good rider that way too?

I think there are many clichés in the horse world that should be killed off, but they persist even though we know better. At my place, you don’t get any extra points for falling off. Instead, we focus on making sure the horse is comfortable with you being on its back and that you trust both yourself and the horse.

If you’ve fallen off one too many times or feel unsure about getting back on your horse, feel free to reach out to me. I have many good ways to work with the horse so that you don’t have to fall off again 🙂

Do you need insurance for your horse?

Insurance!

A few years ago, when I was involved in horse trading, a prospective buyer approached me with her husband, who happened to be a pet insurance salesman. We had a good conversation, and he naturally inquired about whether my horses were insured. I explained that I had so many horses that it was impossible, and despite the number, I had never had a reason to take any to the veterinary hospital. In fact, I had earned millions by not insuring them. He laughed and agreed, “You really have a point. You have no idea how much we make from pet owners. There’s no limit to what people are willing to insure their animals for, and most will never even use the insurance.”

I then shared that I had, in fact, insured a horse. It was a pony I had traded for, and it came fully insured. Many private owners prefer their horses insured, so I transferred the insurance to myself. It later turned out that the pony had joint inflammation and needed to go to the veterinary hospital. I thought, “What luck that it was insured,” but it cost me 2000 SEK to have the pony insured. The insurance only covered part of the vet costs, and the rest I had to cover myself.

I understand the concern about potential high costs, especially given today’s veterinary prices. The decision to insure a horse is personal, and I’ve personally saved a lot by not doing it. A piece of advice for those who want to save money but still feel nervous is to deposit the money they would have paid to the insurance company into a separate account. Make monthly transfers equivalent to the insurance cost, and you’ll have the money if needed. Many follow this advice and can practically buy a new horse every other year if they had full insurance.

Remember to be critical when taking out insurance. Read through all the exceptions to avoid surprises! Insurance companies are there to make money, so always negotiate to get something extra if you’re critical 🙂

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Hay- when it is best!

When I was a child, I spent a lot of time with the farmers around our summer cottage in Blekinge. They were small, self-sufficient farmers with 3-5 cows, a couple of pigs, and a few horses used in both agriculture and forestry.

I loved helping out. For a city girl like me, being surrounded by animals and fresh air was pure joy. The farmers enjoyed having me around, as I willingly pitched in with tasks like mucking out stables, taking walks with the bored hunting dog, and joining in the haymaking – which felt like a celebration. The work was strenuous, but it also served as a testament to one’s prowess as a farmer.

The fields were harvested with horses and a mower. It wasn’t straightforward; it required a specific technique and the horse’s labor. After a few days of drying, the hay was turned, also with the help of horses. When the hay was almost dry, we made haystacks, hanging the hay by hand with a special technique. It was a bit clumsy for me at first, but I soon mastered the technique. Rain didn’t matter much when the hay hung on the haystack; it simply ran off.

Once the hay was completely dry, it was brought home with a wagon, horse-pulled. It was worth the effort when you got to ride in the hayloft. The scent was fantastic, and there was nothing more enjoyable than riding with the horse. One time, we got a flat tire on the way home! Since the load was high, and we sat at the top, we slid down with half the hay when the wagon tilted. It was just a matter of reloading when the wagon was fixed.

After the hay harvest, we went to the lake to bathe and wash off the dust and sweat. It sounds romantic, and it truly was. Despite the hard work, there was a certain self-satisfaction when the hay was finally home.

The loose hay was then piled up on the haystack and stayed there until it was needed. The scent was fantastic, allowing you to relive summer when feeding the horses in winter.

The fields were fertilized with cow dung and horse manure, burned together and spread with the horse.

The grass grew for many years, and it was rare to sow new seeds in these fields. Today, grass is almost sown every year – quick-growing grass that is even fertilized to grow faster. Plowing and spraying remove all native plants, including herbs and weeds that horses normally eat in the wild.

The hay is turned a few times with a tractor and never gets a chance to hang and dry properly before being pressed into bales. If you use tightly packed bales, the sides are also cut off, increasing the risk of mold during storage. Nowadays, larger bales are more common, preserving at least the straw.

Today, the goal is perfection, analyzing hay to determine its nutritional content. In the past, it was known that the hay was good when harvested in the traditional way.

Even though it’s nice to avoid working so hard with the hay, I think the charm of the hard work is something special. Especially when the wife or sister brought homemade treats and strawberry juice, I knew I was the child who had the most fantastic summer of all my classmates 🙂

Do you believe in miracles?

Do you believe in miracles?

I do! I’ve seen it with my own eyes and sometimes even helped them along the way 🙂 Because sometimes that’s what you need to do. Miracles happen suddenly and seem to have no reason, or is it really so? I believe that miracles occur when you truly wish for them, and when you have a strong desire, you tend to focus on what can contribute to realizing the miracle.

What do I mean by that? Well, consider this example: If you get sick, you start taking care of yourself, think about your health, maybe adjust your diet, change your job, or rest more. Then, as if by a miracle, you suddenly get better. It’s called a miracle, but it could simply be the result of the actions you’ve taken to change the situation. I believe that our thoughts influence the possibility of experiencing a miracle or not.

If a miracle were to happen to you, what would you wish for? Think carefully about your wishes and consider if you can contribute a little yourself to facilitate the miracle.

If your miracle involves you and your horse, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I can do my part to help you experience your miracle.

Do I really need to sell my horse?

Do I really need to sell my horse?

I’ve had the privilege of assisting many women in finding their way back into the saddle when life throws challenges their way. Sometimes, it’s truly in the eleventh hour:) It feels amazing to be able to set things right before they go awry.

Let me share Lena’s story with you. Lena booked a consultation with me but changed her mind at the last minute, stating it was too late. Her horse was already advertised, and potential buyers were in the picture. I suggested we could still discuss the situation, knowing how challenging it is not to succeed in what you deeply wish for. We had the conversation… Lena revealed that she had a previous horse where everything was fantastic, but it fell ill and had to be put down two years ago. She bought her current horse hoping it would be gentle and trouble-free. After two years, she still didn’t have complete trust, especially when riding out. The horse was nervous, wanted to turn back home, and it felt uncertain.

We discussed various strategies, and the day after, Lena decided not to sell her horse. Potential buyers had found another horse. Lena chose to work with me for three months to see how we could improve the situation.

Fortunately, this is a story with a happy ending. We quickly addressed Lena’s concerns and found ways for her and the horse to communicate and build trust. Now, Lena rides her horse and is grateful she didn’t sell it. The challenges aren’t over, but Lena has the tools to improve and build trust for the future.

I share this story because I know many ponder whether they have the right horse or if it’s possible to change both their own and the horse’s behavior. Selling and looking for a new horse isn’t always the best solution. There are always challenges, and one should consider what’s best for the horse.

Before you switch horses, consider whether the one you already have in the stable might be the best for you. I also recommend taking the time to work with your horse yourself. Sending it to someone else for training means losing your own valuable experience in different situations. It’s not difficult, but a little help in the beginning is good.

I hope this can help someone in a situation similar to Lena’s, someone who loves their horse but is unsure whether it’s right to keep it.

If you also have a problem with your horse, you are welcome to schedule a free call with me on www.anneaxell.com/appointment

Breed shows 50 years ago!


From my childhood and youth!

Do you remember the wonderful little breed shows we used to have? My childhood and youth summers were spent training horses for the show that took place at the end of the summer. I lived in Denmark, but my parents had bought a summer cottage in Blekinge, where I spent all my breaks. I was always with the farmers who had horses, especially with an old man who had a North Swedish workhorse. They had an association that owned stallions, and he was one of those who took care of one of the association’s stallions. I was allowed to care for and ride his horses, and it was a dream come true for a girl like me. It was a mutual service, as it was an advantage for the old man to have a girl who could and wanted to ride all the horses, whether they were ridden or not 🙂 He taught me everything about presenting horses, and later I was even allowed to show the stallions, which was an enormous privilege. I took the job very seriously; there wasn’t a foot that should be out of place when I showed.

In one picture, you see that I appeared in the newspaper after showing the stallion Kerrim so well that Gösta Bengtsson, who was one of the judges, thought I deserved a prize. It was a book he had written, “Handbok i ridning,” and he signed it for me! Talk about being proud!!! The book was handled as if it were gold, and I still have it 🙂 More people then wanted their horses shown, and I volunteered. There was never any talk of it being too much work. I worked hard and trained, and the results were fantastic. I had been given the task of showing a very beautiful black mare, and I polished her for several hours and had learned the little trick that you could use alcohol on a cloth and wipe the horse with it, making it shiny. The owner came and inspected the horse before it was shown and had a satisfied smile behind the beard and muttered that the flies were slipping on the horse.

At the show in Letesmåla, there were a few Shetlands, some Icelandics, a few Fjords, North Swedish and Ardennes. Then there were a few warmbloods, which were considered incredibly stylish! It was the dream to have one someday. The man who had warmbloods was also known to be a bit “fancier.” He had a large estate in Svängsta, and there was a very fine lineage in his horses. When he saw that the flies were slipping on my North Swedish, he came in and asked me if I could braid horses. If I could… I was like the best in the world at it 🙂 Then I was allowed to braid his mare, and when he saw how nice it turned out, he asked if I could take care of the foal too. I had to hurry so I could show the horses I was supposed to, but the foal got braided, and the mare got the top grade. The owner thought it was my merit because they looked so nice. Then you were about to burst with pride. It was a great honor to be appreciated and needed, and you needed no compensation for it 🙂

It was the big day in Letesmåla, and in the evening, there was a party, and everyone could celebrate a successful day. It was fun and a bit strange actually; I was there year after year, and never was the weather bad on the show day, the weather gods were simply with us every time 🙂