Hiking in Lapland

Now it’s time for the tramping part of my blog. Even an enthusiast farrier who loves her work as a lifestyle needs to relax every now and then and the best way is to go into a place where there simply is no possibility to reach anyone or be reached by anyone anyhow. I was hiking for a week in Urho Kekkonen national park, located in Lapland, way further north from the artic circle. In Nordic countries we have the only wilderness areas in Europe, where you are on your own with at least a day travel or more to the nearest road and no mobile phone network. I feel always as stunned when I realize that whatever happens “out there”, no one can reach me before I come out of the forest. That just feels somehow odd in our modern world. Anyway, I enjoyed my week and got some photos to share with you :)


I’m a lightweight backpacking fan. The equipment for two persons including food for a week was 23kg. That means 11,5 kg a person and of that the food weight was 4,5kg, so in the end of the week the backpack was much under 10kg per person. And that was a “heavy luxury set” :) The equipment included some extra spareclothes, fishing equipment and a tarp cloth that is easy to set in couple of minutes if a storm hits and the camping is much nicer while you get extra room under the tarp. There you can keep equipment, sit and cook and have your meal under the shelter.

With a light backpack the hiking is easy, comfortable, you can even run and you can watch the sceneries while walking. That also makes possible to walk longer distances. “Taking it easy”, having long breaks and not trying to be sporty or something like that we traveled approx. 25km per day in terrain only with footpath, sometimes animal made path or no path at all.


I was heading that way..  Finland has over 1000 km long border line with Russia. The border zone before the actual border is couple of kilometers wide and the the entry there is permitted only for the landowners and officials. As a child I visited couple of times the actual border, since an old relative of mine lives almost on the border in south Karelia and children under 12 years old were allowed to go to the border zone. With my fathers cousin I walked to look behind the Iron Curtain. In my childhood there behind was still USSR.

Another story of the border. My grandfather TJ Kukkamäki was measuring the east border line after the II World War. Some older guys in the group had been measuring the border line also last time in 1920 (the border between Finland and Russia has changed many many times throughout the history). They told that in some point the Russians got fed up in tramping through the swamps companying the horrible amounts of mosquitos and told to the Finns: “Make the border where you want to, we will leave now.” I think Finland won some hectares of swamp and millions of mosquitos there :D


Got some graylings from the rivers. A delicious fish. These two made a great tasting soup with dried vegetables, some butter and salt.

Ps. Thank you Sweden for the soup :) A cheap Swedish Mora knife you can buy from every hardware store with a couple of euros worked well this time in preparing the fish.  


Crossing a stream. The bottle in my hand is not for the balance, I just filled it from the stream. Hiking in north is nice because you don’t need to carry water with you almost at all. There is water everywhere and it’s clean and delicious. No water purification by boiling, filtering or tablets are necessary.


It’s nice that you don’t need to carry the drinking water with you, but sometimes the plentiness of water starts to make your traveling a bit more difficult.


I mean it, the water really sometimes makes the traveling difficult. I want to go that way, but there is the stupid stream in between. And it’s too deep to wade across. Well, clothes off, all the equipment in a big garbage bag and swimming through the not-so-warm water. I hadn’t tried swimming across the stream before, but it worked, the equipment didn’t get wet, I didn’t lose them and it was a fun experience :)


There was a pool of water even on the top of a fell. The place was so magnificent with the scenery in every direction, so of course I decided to take a bath there. The wind was terrible and water was cold, but again this was an experience I wouldn’t wanted to miss.

In the canyon below my swimming pool there was even some snow left from the last winter.


Taking a nap somewhere.


Paratiisikuru (Paradise valley). You arrive suddenly to a totally different green world between the barren fells. A stream flows through the valley and when you follow it you arrive to the start point of the stream onto a pool and a waterfall. Usually always in such places you have something man made there, rails, steps, signs, something that makes it easy for tourists to reach. But the beauty of the valley was even more impressive because it is untouched. There is only a path in the valley because people and animals walk there, nothing more. And even those who walk have to come at least 30km from the nearest road and cross at least couple of rivers with no bridges. 


Reindeer in Paradise.


This was found in the middle of the forest. Lapland is reindeer herding area and though today the herders drive around with snowscooters, the traditional Sami hut model must be in fact quite handy base camp in the wild if you need to be there a little bit longer. I have to admit that as a South Finnish city jerk I don’t know a lot of the reindeer herding ways, but anyway I think this hut couldn’t be older than 10 to 20 years.


Bonus picture: The Frog :D

Sideclips solve everything ;D

I was discussing some days ago with a colleague about a strange theory that every now and then pops up somewhere. The theory is that the side clips between the second and third nailhole would shape the hoof narrow. I have even heard that said of sideclips in hindshoes where they are placed between the first and second nailhole.

Oh no, I’m a big fan of sideclips and in fact I buy almost all my shoes without clips and then I make the sideclips myself. But that’s only because I’m insane enough to find a way to force myself to do at least some forging practice every day.. :D I also like to shoe without clips at all, but with some horses the nails are just not enough to keep the shoe in the place the whole shoeing interval.

Why I don’t believe in the theory of sideclips narrowing the hoof? If I see a narrow hoof with narrow heels, usually always the hoof is long toed. The shoe is fit somewhere very front far far away from the tip of the frog what I like to use as a guideline measuring the location of the P3 and the right balance for the hoof and the placement of the shoe. With a long toe the whole hoof starts to take a narrow shape. The imbalance stresses the heels and they either start to crush or if they are strong enough they also run forward and get narrow shaped. With a sideclipped shoe the long toe is not a problem at all, because I can easily draw the shoe back so that the shoe is on the right place and then I can just cut the extra toe away. For the horse, moving is immediately easier and the hoof mechanism can work as it should and the hoof starts to shape again wider.

Of course there are some hoofs that need some extra help or the reasons for the narrow shape are something else, but this basic job works fine with most of the horses with a long toe and narrow shaped hoofs. I can’t see how that would be possible if sideclips would somehow be the reason. The sideclips are anyway in front of the widest part of the hoof so they do not prevent the hoof mechanism from working.

The most absurd thing to me is that in some front shoe models the sideclips are placed between the first and second nailhole to prevent the assumed narrow shaping effect. In front hoofs where the toe is wide, this way placed sideclips prevent drawing the shoe back enough. Then we still have the long toe that was in the first place the reason to start the hoof shaping narrow.

The way I explain this is very simplified (but I think that practically it is a very simple thing) and maybe someone has something to argument here. I would be happy to hear it. I just thought this is an issue worth of discussing, since even now I have on my shoeing list a horse that has nice, round hoofs and has had them all the years I have been shoeing her, and then suddenly a vet told that the sideclips are not good because they will shape the hoof triangle. This time I was too lazy to argue because it didn’t matter to me or the horse, I just shoe the fronts without clips at all :D

The photos of a horse I shod this week may explain a bit my idea. (Yes, yes, I know, it’s not MY idea literally, but I mean that the idea that everyone else does not agree :D)


Awww.. Who can make such a bad job and call himself a farrier?


..It was my own job. Always think twice before you criticize old shoeing. This horse is in a big stable and she had somehow dropped from the shoeing list and we all had forgotten this poor horse. There were still studs on hindfeet in July (or what was left of them). The shoeing is over three months old. It’s a shame that I didn’t realize to take photos before I already had shod the other hind, because that was much worse.


The hoof shape is already a bit narrow with the long toe.


The shoe is drawn back as much as needed. Notice that you can even see the white line in front of the shoe.


The other hind that was originally much worse, being shod. The heels are crushed and you can see from the stripes (right now I don’t remember any proper name for the “stripes” if there is some, sorry for my bad English :D) that there has been quite a lot stress on the hoof because of the long toe and every way a little bit “exploded” hoof :) There can be many reasons for these kind of stripes, but this time I think they are just the result of the too long shoeing interval and a long toe.


The front feet were interesting as well. This time I’m not the one to blame ;) The fronts where shod somewhere in between by someone.


A rough trim, not finished. The old shoe looked like a donkey shoe, long and narrow with very straight branches, but to my eyes this hoof is quite round and usually it is so in front hoofs. The 3*0 sized shoes I need to buy toeclipped, but I think with the sideclips this work would be easier, quicker, and the end result would look better. Anyway, with front clipped shoe I needed to cut away the extra toe before placing the shoe. I made the place for the clip behind the white line, I took even more away as seen in the picture with the rasp and the knife to get the shoe in the right place. No blood and the horse was perfectly sound :) It just seems to me that with this kind of twisted hoofs with too long toe the frontclipped shoe remains very often too far forward. Maybe you just don’t have courage enough to make room enough for the clip.


Yep, When I look at the shod hoof, I feel that with sideclips or with no clips at all I would have placed the shoe couple of millimeters more behind.


From side. I think not bad, at least if you compare to where we start, but the shoe could have been longer. With a bigger size it would have been so much longer that this particular horse would step on it and lose it but If this sized shoe would have been fit the couple of millimeters more back what I could have done without the front clip, I think this would be quite nice.