BY NADIA ASLAM
If you’ve ever seen the mesmerizing images of Scandinavia in the winter, your first thought when I mention these snow-capped countries may be Skiing or the Northern Lights. But have you ever stopped and thought about what horse ownership—better yet, a professional equestrian career—may look like in these stunning, yet downright wintery nations?
We caught up with the effervescent Karianne Christoffersen to find out what it truly takes to be a pro equestrian in the Winter Wonderland of Norway. She shares how Norwegian culture has helped to shape her successful career as a showjumper and showjumping equine sales specialist.
So Karianne, you’re from Norway. I think I speak for everyone when I ask, what does horse ownership look like in the winter there?
Well, it can easily get down to -20c (-4f) on a winter’s day here. But actually, horse ownership isn’t too dissimilar to the rest of the world. I’d say the main differences are that we have to be vigilant to ensure that water is always available as it freezes easily, and of course, we have special snow pads and studs on our horse’s feet so that they don’t slip on the ice.
Did the weather in Norway ever deter you from riding, or ultimately becoming a professional showjumper?
I can honestly say that it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong—there are some days when I wish that I could be sat in a warm office, but here in Norway, everyone has a really healthy relationship with weather and nature. If you spend even a weekend here, you’ll likely hear the phrase “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær” which roughly translates to “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. So having woolen thermal underwear, insulated clothing, and proper winter boots can actually make a trail ride through the frozen tundra of Norway a truly magical and entirely comfortable experience.
How do imported horses cope in the climate?
Most horses coming into Norway from a warmer climate tend to do very well; it’s all about the horse care. From being considerate of the time of year that you bring them home to stabling in a heated barn. There are many ways to ensure that a horse from as far afield as Florida can not only survive the winters, but thrive in them.
What does a typical winter’s workday look like for you?
I start the day at 6 am. I have two young kids, so if I want to fit in some yoga, it has to be before they’re awake! Around 7 am, I’ll prepare breakfast, and by 8.30, the kids are at kindergarten, and my partner has left for work. Then my work begins; the horses have already had their breakfast and are out in the fields (all of our horses go out every day except for perhaps a few days per year when the weather is too extreme).
Then I’ll get started with either riding my competition horses out in the forest or doing some schooling in the arena. After I’ve finished with all of the competition horses, it’s time for a quick lunch break before I move on to working with the youngsters. I’m currently working with two incredibly talented young stallions, and they’re a joy to work with.
By mid-afternoon, there’s a pause in my workday and time to be a Mom; I pick the kids up from kindergarten, take them home and focus on family time until the kids go to bed.
The evening is when I’ll take care of the paperwork, post on social media, and source horses for my clients!
The idea of a cozy Norwegian winter sounds utterly magical. From riding through the snowy forests to curling up in front of the fire with a hot chocolate after work. The reputation that Scandinavia has as one of the happiest and coziest places in the world certainly seems to ring true in the equine industry.
Do you think that you’d enjoy a Norwegian horse-owning winter?
Nadia is a lifelong equestrian, Head of Content at Kingsland Equestrian, and frequent contributor to horse magazines across the globe. A former competitive rider, with an unwavering passion for the sport – she has the life goal of making equestrian sport a welcoming and accessible place for all!