Having utterly failed to keep this blog up to date in Poland, I’m going to try to do it this week. I’m in Rättvik, Sweden, for the DHA Hunt Cup, hosted by Dalecarlian Horse Adventures. This is a trip I’ve wanted to make for a couple of years now. Quite apart from the couple of days of clinics (this year run by Wojtek Osiecki, one of the best horseback archers in the world), the week culminates in the Hunt Cup competition, a 1km unroped track through the Swedish pine forest with targets at various ranges on both sides. Those who haven’t seen the YouTube video posted last year by Emil Eriksson (two-time champion of this event), I recommend you give it a watch. It looks like being not only one of the most challenging events in the sport but also one of the most fun.
Yesterday started at 4am for the drive to Gatwick, where Claire and I met up with Adam Snowball, the other Brit on the trip. We were a bit worried by the staff at the outsized luggage belt: he needed quite a bit of help with the concept that the case contained bows that had been checked in by the airline and just needed to be put on the plane. Still, we got past him in the end and settled in for a pleasant and on time flight. On arrival at Stockholm we discovered that the answer to my rhetorical question “how hard can it be to put a plastic case on a plane” is “too hard for that guy”. The bows were still in London. Apparently they’ll be delivered later today (in the meantime we’re borrowing bows from the ever-helpful Emil, who also drove us from Stockholm to Rättvik).
After a very fine pizza dinner and a few drinks (we were reunited with soplica, the marvellous polish hazelnut vodka and with salmiakki, a Finnish liquorice vodka), I discovered that if you are tired enough then sleep is easy, even if it’s still broad daylight at 11pm.
This morning the clinics start. I shall write more later.
The clinics today focused on ground work with the horse. In the morning we were shown how to connect with the horse using a rope halter a long rope, turning as though working in a round pen but without the pen. After an excellent lunch we had a go at it ourselves, under the watchful eye of Wojtek. Many useful things learned and a really peaceful feeling with the horse.
The weather in the morning was bright but cold (after yesterday’s pouring rain) but this afternoon it warmed up just in time for a very pleasant run around the local roads to loosen my legs up after spending yesterday in the plane and the car. The countryside here is beautiful, with rolling hills and dotted houses, which are all made of wood and painted a distinctive dark red colour. This paint is locally made and the colour comes from the rich copper deposits (copper mining is a traditional industry here). The houses are decades or even centuries old, the paint protecting them from the weather. There is a definite homestead feeling to the area, comparable to that I saw in rural Oregon.
This evening’s plans include eating the dinner whose cooking smell is driving me mad, then fletching arrows until Game of Thrones comes on. All praise the internet, which will allow us to watch the season finale in English…