Like many animal science students, I am a horse girl. Obviously not everybody is into horses in our programme, but there is a large share of the girls that spend their free time at the stables. And I am one of them. Since the start of my masters programme here in Sweden I have been very lucky to be a ‘medryttare’, which kind of translates into ‘co-rider’, meaning to say I am riding and helping out with someone else’s horse. Lots of fun and a great way to see more of this country’s beautiful nature. Talking about nature, I am a little bit obsessed with spotting wildlife while in Sweden. I mean, there are a lot of animals out here in the woods that you would never encounter in the Netherlands. Imagine spotting a wolf or a moose! Unfortunately I still haven’t seen either one of those in the wild, but I have been lucky enough to see a wild boar, a badger, three different types of deer, crane birds and squirrels.
“I halted my horse and held my breath, as right in front of us, stood a beautiful roe deer.”
Yesterday I went out for a horse ride in the beautiful area of Hågadalen. It was late afternoon, the sun was low on the horizon and there were not that many people around any more. We were with a small group of three horses and riders and we were not far from home when I saw something moving not far ahead from us. As I was the first rider I turned around in the saddle and hushed my friends. I halted my horse and held my breath, as right in front of us, stood a beautiful roe deer. It was simply standing there, on the middle of the track, staring at us. I could not have been more excited.
The other riders, two Swedish women, were clearly not impressed. Well, they were a bit astonished I think, by my excitement, but did not seem to pleased about the deer. Not pleased at all! “That, that is what we call a ‘jävlabambi’,” my friend Lotta sighed, “and you really don’t want to run into them.”. For your information: Jävla is one of the most commonly used Swedish curse words. And well, who doesn’t know Bambi? The problem is that the – silly – horses, get spooked by the deer. It doesn’t help that deer are not as frightened by horses as they are by humans, thanks to the horse smell. However, the deer are still shy in a way, so they will run, hide in bushes, and reappear. Wonderful ingredients for a horse to activate their natural flight instinct, one you try to avoid as a rider.
Indeed our horses tensed as we approached closer, but remained calm enough to keep walking. But for me it was an amazing experience, the three dear only on a few meters distance as we passed. I still have ‘seeing a moose in the wild’ on my bucket list, but I think I might add a note ‘not from horseback!’ to it 😉