7.14.2011

Abroad & Below: Mustangs and Quarter Horses


July 1st & 2nd
There is a major event happening in Rattvik today: The American Car Cruise. Hundreds of American cars drive back and forth through the town, which is only about a mile long, all day and night. They fill their cars with as many people as they can, blasting music and drinking beer as residents and visitors sit along the street cheering them on. It’s Rattvik’s biggest event of the year, proving businesses with enough revenue to last the rest of the year. In a small town like this, it’s certainly believable even if it seems a bit crazy. As the windows shake from the bass of mustangs and cameros, we left Rattvik for a little lakeside community just outside the city lines.

This town is like another “gamla stan,” with craft makers along the square selling their handmade baskets, dala horses, and wool blankets. We stopped at one booth with a woman who takes old coins and turns them into pendants, cutting out the main design. Mats and Gunbritt bought me a beautiful 1944 Swedish kronor, designed with the princess’s crown and “Sverige” written underneath. I think it has already become my newest signature piece. Then we found a cafĂ© overlooking the lake and summerhouses. I think if I were to ever buy a vacation house in Sweden, it would be here. So peaceful and picturesque, each signature “dala red” summerhouse has its own little pier and picnic area that extends over the water and rock formations. Horses graze behind the rows and a maypole stands in the middle of their common area, right next to a dance floor and community house that was converted from an old church. I wish we had been here for midsummer this year, but I have a feeling we will be back for another one.

The next morning Gunbritt arranged a horseback ride for me with Linda, Mat’s niece. Gunbritt has an outstanding passion for horses, which she has passed onto Linda. They both ride almost everyday a week and Gunbritt generously allowed me to ride X-Et alongside Linda and her horse, Ronaldo. It was the most incredible horse back ride I have ever been on. We had the freedom to ride wherever we wanted. In the river, over bridges, along mustard flower fields and among the woods. I literally felt like someone should be filming us for a movie as we cantered over the hills and into the water. I can’t imagine riding a horse around an arena ever again. Even when I do get to ride in nature, nothing can compare to the freedom and availability of landscape that I had today. I am so thankful that Gunbritt prepared this for me, I can only hope riding along the beach will feel the same way for her!

I was only spoiled more after the leaving the ranch when we went to a friend’s farm, just an hour north of Rattvik. Annette rides with Gunbritt and they have traveled together many times to participate in quarter horse competitions, cattle drives, and wild horse sanctuaries. And even though Annette is a nurse, she manages to maintain a lively farm complete with three cats, two moose-hunting dogs, the fluffiest rabbits I have ever seen, six cows with calves, three horses, and their newest  6-week old foal. I probably could’ve spent my entire two weeks here. We dined on moose meatballs and laughed constantly over their travel and vacation stories, including their smuggling of Yosemite pinecones when they last visited us in California. Then we rounded up the horses and spent some quality time with baby Foxy. Could our timing have been any more perfect? Next time I am in Sweden Foxy will be full-grown and I can brag about all the baby pictures I have of her, just as if she was a human. Which, of course, she is cuter than anyways.