The less said about Day 3 the better – suffice it to say the entire party got sick, either food poisoning or the fastest moving bug I’ve ever seen, as we spent the whole night and most of yesterday trying to turn ourselves inside out. Only a few of us (myself included as I was one of the first to get sick, and was managing to keep things down by the afternoon) went out riding for a few hours, determined to make the most of our holiday. I don’t think it really counts though, I didn’t really ride as much as sit on Birtingur clutching his neck and trying not to be sick on him.
But most of us are feeling better today. Two in our group have decided to go back to the first farm we were at in in the interest of not holding everyone up. Since we moved onto the tepees today, with the whole traditional lark of sleeping on reindeer skins, cooking over a fire, and dodging mosquitos.
Today’s the first day that I know I’m going to feel it in my legs tomorrow, and I just don’t care since it’s been incredible. A shaky start to the day, neither me or Birt felt into it, me because I was still shaking off my sicky grog, Birt because I don’t think he’d had his fill of grass before I dragged him out his field to get saddled up, but once we had a bit of fresh air we both really got going.
It was about a six-hour trek to get here, and we’ve been surrounded by reindeer most of the way, so incredibly close, we even had a stretch when we cantered alongside them like we’re in a film. Friz has told me she was singing the Spirit soundtrack in her head the entire time. I even found an antler, which I’m keeping. I was thinking I’d give it to my dog back home, since deer antler chews are so expensive, but on second thought, I figured I’d be creative; me and Frizz are going to carve the date and our initials in, then I’ll hang it up on my wall when I get home. Best souvenir.
Only bad spot today was a near-miss incident with Frizz’s girth coming loose – the French people in our group (who I’m going to refer to as the Musketeers because there’s three of them and I’m very clever) pushed their horses on regardless, obviously horses being horses, and Kaftain being Kaftain, he was so determined to keep up so he fought to keep up with them, regardless of what Frizz did.
The three Musketeers nickname is incredibly apt too because, for want of a better way of putting it, the three of them are incredibly French; not helping to set up camp, chastising the German’s for speaking German (when they themselves frequently conversed in French) and when we all got the plague insisting ‘we should only eat what we know’. They could only be more French if they punctuated with ‘Zut Alors!’
We’ve gotten to know the horses better today too.
Brenna, the 20-year-old packhorse, who behaves like a grumpy old lady, dodders like a grumpy old lady and who none of the other horses will dare pass on the trail (Kaftain especially) since they’re scared witless of her.
Also since we were on shorter rides the first few day’s I didn’t realize how pushy Birt is, he always has to be on the move, trying to shove other horses behind him as he goes, in continued deference to the line he thinks everyone should walk in.
It also turns out Frizz has ended up with the manliest of the man horses, usually in the rocky terrain the horses will follow on from one another to avoid, you know, falling and breaking a leg. Kaftain always thinks he knows better though, deviating from the path and then immediately regretting it when he realizes he’s put himself in a pickle.
We’re sitting at camp now, these horses all fed, and we’re waiting to be fed ourselves – apparently it’s reindeer tonight.
All wrapped up in the tepee ready to sleep. I actually managed to get the fire going. I’m not sure how I ended up being the one responsible for it. Just when we got in our tepee, which we’re sharing with Dr. Pony and two German sisters who have always been lovely and helped me and Frizz with our horses a lot, we talked a bit about lighting the fire, and having done it a couple of times a long time ago I turned out to be the most experienced at doing it – so here we are. Last time I built a fire I got a burn the size of an egg, luckily this went slightly better.
Anyway, we have the fire for now, but it’ll go out at some point in the night, so we’re all wearing woolen hats and six layers each, hopefully, we’ll be warm enough on our reindeer skins.
Slumming it we, of course, have an outdoor toilet. I wouldn’t usually mention except for the instruction on it. Little diagrams that show you how to sit on a loo. Okay. Another diagram explaining not to stand and piss, fair enough. And a final diagram explaining not to stand on the flimsy plastic seat, and then squat like a frog. I am not sure why this needs explaining.
I was right about the reindeer for dinner, I’m starting to think that’s all they eat in the north of Sweden. No complaints, though, since it’s very tasty. Dessert was a bit weird; Rosehip Soup and Almond croutons. The croutons were nice, the soup, not so much. I just snacked on croutons.
My evening job was to help feed the horses. I went in with a bag of oats, got dog piled by ponies, and rescued by one of our hosts. I don’t think I’ll be asked to help feed the horses again.
On a final note I can feel a cold sore coming in on my lip, probably my bodies kickback to being so ill. However, of course, the only medicine around is for horses. So I have horse cream on my face; since I figure it’s worth a try at least.
It’s been a good day.