Norway Tour part 2

This is getting already a bit scary. There must be some magic in this country, because everything is going so extremely well and I have had such a luck with everything that I just haven’t had a bad moment the whole time I’ve been here. I have met wonderful people all over, everyone has been helping me all the way long and I have had lots of luck with everything, finding the right places and people in the right time. And if the Norwegians still try to tell me that it is raining here all the time, I don’t believe a word! Right now I’m writing this on a nice cabin’s nice terrace in the evening sun. And I got already quite badly sunburned while hiking in the mountains :D

I’ve got some photos from the last week adventures. Sadly I have none of the three days hiking in Jotunheimen National Park. I packed my camera with me, but when I was going to shoot photos of reindeers in the fog after some hours walk from my car, I noticed that the camera had been switched on and the battery was empty. Then I carried with me three days that camera with no battery through beautiful sceneries and some quite demanding climbs and descents. At least I got some more exercise because of the extra weight in my backpack!


After my last blogpost I drove my car to Tretten to meet Siv Ørnvall, a very goodhearted person I really wanted to see during my visit. I think I got my muscels in my stomach sore of lots of laughing during one afternoon and morning. I was honoured to start with Siv a shoeing project on her own horse and I’m very interested to hear how the project will develop.. If it goes well, the Toe Shoeing Company ltd. we founded will be a huge success and we’ll become rich and famous all over the world! :D


photo: Siv Ørnvall

Trimming Siv’s two years old foal’s hooves. Siv’s horsemanshipskills and goodheartedness can be seen in her horses. This was maybe the best behaving foal I’ve ever trimmed :)


I thought somewhere in the beginning of my trip that it would be cool to drive through the Trollstigen. Then I thought that I have no time to go that way and I need to skip it. After leaving Jotunheimen I just quickly checked from my road map a nice looking round trip a bit more west so that I’ll see some fjords and landscapes there before I’ll head back more east where I had booked a riding trip in the mountains for the next day.

And what happened! Suddenly I noticed the signs. I was turning on the road 63, Trollstigen! I couldn’t but laugh. Cool, I mistakenly thought The Road was more up north, but as I earlier told, there is some magic around and everything in Norway seems to go my way :)


Roads are in many places cut by the fjords. On the road 63 waiting the ship to take cars over the water.


In the next morning I arrived to Kvistli, a stable the farriers in south Norway recommended me. And there I met the farrier from Trondheim area, Håkan Hàkaføt. They had a shoeing day with Morten Saeterhaug, the householder. Morten is also educating himself a farrier. There is lots of shoeing to be done in the stable with 80 horses. 50 of the horses are shod in the summertime. The rest are mares with foals etc. that need only to be trimmed.

This was again a lucky coincidence. I was going to the riding trip I really was expecting and on the top of it I met a farrier and apprentice in the stable and they had so much work to do and some help was welcome, so after a while of discussing I was determined to take my own toolbox out of the car after my riding trip. There I was again, shoeing and learning things from a skilled farrier who has lot of knowledge and has been shoeing horses probably before I had even touched one.. :D But first something of the riding trip that was an experience for me.


The road goes ever on..

I would have been happy to take a several days trip in the mountains but I was too late arranging my riding, so I had only a 3 hour riding trip. But already that was fine enough. My horse was absolutely great for me, I was told he has an easy tolt and nice gallop and even when I have not ridden icelandic horses that much, after a while I found the way to ask my horse to tolt and stay in tolt. That’s a much more comfortable gait in trailriding than trot. He was forward going but not nervous at all, forgave me my mistakes and carried himself well so he felt like a much bigger horse. The horse’s name was too difficult for me to learn (I’m always in trouble with the names of icelandic horses.. :)) but it meant a “King”. That was how he carried himself.


The riding tours are located in Rondane National Park. The horses are surefooted and climbing up and down the mountain slopes, wading cross the deep streams or on a swampy area or crossing bridges is not a problem for them. On a hot and sunny day crossing the river was a refreshing experience :) For anyone planning a riding holiday I can honestly recommend. I’m already thinking that how and when could I arrange for myself a several days tour.. :D


And after the riding.. back to work! I was all excited and happy again to shoe horses with Håkan and Morten. Håkan is doing his job in areas where there are not too many educated farriers or veterinary clinics and he has to think and solve himself many problems that otherwhere could easily be just sent to x-rays or somewhere else to be someone else’s problem. When that’s not possible, it develops a great skill to really see what and where the problem is and what kind of shoeing solution could work out. I felt that there was lots of knowledge in front of me and I listened carefully and I think I also got something. A great afternoon!

We worked quite late and after that had a dinner and sit on the terrace drinking wine and chatting in front of a beautiful scenery towards the mountains rising behind the green valley. And I was again wondering how did I end up in this situation? Great thanks to Anne Margrethe, Morten and other personnel of all the experience in Kvistli and of course for Håkon of sharing his knowledge and letting me to work with him.

Right now I feel that I owe something to whole Norway, I have met so nice and helpful people all around. It just means that you won’t get rid of me. I’ll be back! Ha ha, already in the end of September, see you in Norwegian Championships! Tongue out

Norway Tour

Greetings from Norway! This time I ended up in this beautiful land with fjords and mountains and terraces. It’s snowing half of the year and the rest it’s raining. Every house is surrounded by a terrace, though. They seem to think positive here :)

I have not been very positive for a long long time. Instead I have been very frustrated with my forging work that seems to go nowhere and I don’t really know what I’m doing wrong and what right. So I packed my things and came to Norway to search for some help. And I have definitely got help! I contacted Aksel Vibe and I’m so thankful that I could be around for some days and see the system how he and his apprentices work, and got some teaching in forging and shoeing. It’s just amazing how much you can learn just in a few days when you are teached by someone who really can point out the weak points and explain and show to you how to correct them, systematically, one by one. Now it’s easy to go back home and practice those things when I have a clue where I’m heading to. I know too that after a while I need assistance again to get more things pointed out, but now I feel that I have the key how to progress. And that’s just wonderful.

We were doing basic things, how to make a heel, bend the iron, draw a clip, and Aksel was concentrating on my position on the anvil and how I’m using my hammer and tongs. The very important thing is also to know what you are aiming for. You must have a clear picture in your mind what kind of shape you are going to have in your shoe or heel or whatever you are making. When I got my position and blows correct, I got the glimpse of the feeling that I can really control the iron and make it go wherever I want to. It’s still a long way to to get that feeling for a longer period than just for a couple of blows but now I know what I’m aiming for, and at least in theory I know how to do the trick.


I have had great luck with weather. It has been a rainy summer but while I have been here, it has been raining only for a couple of days. They are always showing the pictures of fjords and mountains in travel brochures of Norway, but to me this seems more like I would be in Mediterranean. What a beautiful area near Sandefjord, on the south coast.

I was also working with Aksel’s team couple of days and I got terrific guidance and practice in trimming the hoof, making the hoof flat, and clinching and finishing. Aksel and his apprentice Katinka Ødegaard revealed me the tricks how to finish the hoof so that it looks like glass. Yeah, now I just need to practice it myself to get good at it.


New apprentices at forging practice. Both of them had a big pile of concave iron and they made the heels and bend iron to the shoe shape. Katinka instructing.


On the next week the shoes the apprentices had made were already in use at work. Different sizes waiting to be nailed on.


At work. It’s good that master has an attentive apprentice to make sure that the master makes no mistakes ;D


Work starts to get finished. 

The trip to Norway is my combined training and holiday trip and I have had other activities than shoeing, too. On Sunday I got the opportunity to try wild water kayaking with farrier friends. That was just so much fun! When I asked of the kayaking opportunities from a farrier friend, I knew that he is good at it but I didn’t know how good. I got teaching in shoeing from Aksel Vibe, a very top farrier and now I got also top teaching in kayaking that has been Karl Engen’s passion and work before he started his farrier education. I’m quite impressed and so lucky to get such a good and nice teachers!

Check a cool video where Karl and his friends are having a nice little kayaking trip.. ;) It gets all the time crazier towards the end. Aurdøla – do you feel lucky?

On Sunday there were three of us beginners and first we practiced flipping the kayak and getting out of it and also swimming in the stream. You have to do that separately before you go with the kayak in the stream, because you anyway flip in some point and then you must swim and it’s better to know how to do it safely. We also practiced going from side into the stream and turn into it (Sorry, don’t know the proper terminology in english :))

Then the Karl’s course for the beginners, How to get into the river with kayak. We carried our kayaks upstream on the riverbank and then when there was a suitable place in the river, we were supposed to sit in our kayaks and land in the river. Yes, I mean land. The riverbank was 10 meters high and you just had to sit in the kayak, flip it over the edge and there we go! Norwegians are just crazy I think.. At least this was easy for beginners, because you’ll certainly end up in the river!

Yesterday I started to head north and at a time I’m in Lillehammer and going to see later today another farrier friend and I’m really looking forward to it. On coming days I’ll probably do at least some hiking in the mountains, but we’ll see where I’ll end up to. I wish I will have time to share the rest of my Norway tour with you blog readers as well in some point, but I know I have to work like a madman when I get back home, so I promise yet nothing :)