Why do we do this?
It started out many years ago, as my life’s dream: to live on and work my ancestors land, inspired by American methods. I always had a clear picture of what I wanted to achieve and I’m now proud to be able to offer my guests this genuine Ranch in Härjedalen. It’s very important to me that all you experience here should be the real thing. Everything from the horses, the riding, and the equipment to the cooking and the company must be genuine and real. My own experiences from when I visited and worked at different ranches are what I want to give you as our guest. There are two things in particular that I appreciate about living on the Ranch. The first is the feeling of freedom and being able to ride my horse wherever I want to go. The second thing is the experience of the very real-life situation when we move our cattle; every second and every joint decision my horse and I make has an impact on that exact moment, and in that one instant, the cattle, the guests, and the horses are working towards a common goal.
I love the wide-open mountain terrain and the opportunity to meet a lot of new and interesting people during the summer. It is of great importance to me that all of our riders feel safe and develop their riding skills in teamwork with their horses. When I guide our guests on the mountain, I combine my experiences as a teacher of horsemanship with horse adventures. There are exciting and adrenaline-charged experiences for everyone, and as I see it, it’s only our imagination that sets the limits.
I’ve been passionate about horses and the wilderness all my life, and I’ve ridden and trained Western style horseback riding for more than 15 years. The thing I love the most is going for a long fast ride on the mountain in the sunshine, and then sitting down in the terrain to enjoy the astonishingly beautiful views.
Our ranch is located in Trumvallen, which was used by Johan’s great-grandfather and his family as summer pastures sometime during the late 1800s. In Jämtland/Härjedalen the cultural heritage regarding the use of pastures is very strong, and cows and other livestock are kept in the mountain pastures during the summer months. The livestock is allowed to roam freely in the woods, and the farmed fields are used to grow crops and winter feed. Historically, the pastures were a crucial complement to the running of the home-farm. Mountain farmers in Härjedalen moved their livestock to the summer pastures, and there, they produced dairy products like butter, cheese and traditional whey-cheese in small huts, called “Buvallar.” In these cattle herders’ huts, young women worked to produce food that could be stored during the winter months, and also took care of and herded the cattle. They lived in the small huts on the pastures. It was a very lonely life for them during the long summer months.
Johan’s grandfather Oskar Stensson continued working the family’s land and the forests along the sides of the mountain around Trumvallen and up towards Myrrue near Trumdalen. Forestry was extremely hard work back in the mid-1900s. Oskar built hay barns and “Buvallar” out of timber that he chopped down and prepared himself on his own land. He had at most 6 people working for him in his mountain forest during the winter season. One winter, they chopped down 3,000 trees by hand, and had their horses pull them down to the stream Kölån. The timber was branded with Oskar’s brand and then floated on the meltwater down to the river Ljusnan. When they chopped down the large trees on the mountainside, they had to build “ice roads” where the working horses could pull very large and heavy loads.
When Johan bought his first horses in 1987, Oskar wanted to come along to inspect them and make sure they would be good and able mountain horses. Johan tells us that his grandfather Oskar came to make sure that the horses would be good draft horses. Oskar taught Johan how to shoe the horses, so they could cope with the rough and hard mountain terrain. Oskar also showed Johan many of the old mountain trails, forest trails, and other tracks and trails that the family had used for generations. These are the trails we ride on today. We have rediscovered Trumdalen on horseback´, and now, cows are walking again on the old cattle tracks that livestock used over 200 years ago.
It’s important for us to honor the memory of our ancestors, and we aim to run our ranch in their spirit. We keep our cattle on the pastures of Näsvallen. We manage approximately 40 cows and calves every summer, letting them roam freely in the woods just like farm animals have done in the valley for centuries. But instead of the lonely life that the herder-girls used to lead each summer, we fill the valley with true Western spirit, and drive the cattle with our horses. Today, the Trumvallen Horse Ranch is inspired by ranches in the mountains of Colorado in the USA. We train and work with the horses to ensure that they will become safe and reliable mountain horses, and that they will be easy to work with when driving the cattle that roam the woods and mountain pastures. At the Trumvallen Horse Ranch, you can experience the mountains of Härjedalen on amazing mountain trail rides and combine this with true cowboy-style living and cattle drives.