On horseback through verdant landscapes

Riding an Icelandic horse through beautiful shifting lanscapes with minimal environmental impact. That is what Flo Colonnier and Rianne Kindt offer costumers while living their dream as ecotourism entrepreneurs in Svansele.

Flo Colonnier has ridden horses since she was six and began entering jumping competitions at nine. Now she offers guests a significantly more calm experience, guiding groups on trail rides in the beautiful Svansele area.

Flo Colonnier has ridden horses since she was six and began entering jumping competitions at nine. Now she offers guests a significantly more calm experience, guiding groups on trail rides in the beautiful Svansele area.

Foto: Evelina Eriksson

Engelska2024-07-08 16:15

Flo Colonnier and her then-partner started the company Horses of Taiga in 2016. That was also when she fullfilled one of her long-held dreams.

Flo originally comes from France and has been riding since she was six years old. Her longing to move north, however, began even earlier.

– I told my parents I wanted to live in Lapland when I was five. This isn't quite Lapland, but to us, it's the same, she says.

Rianne Kindt (on the left) came to the farm in Svansele as a visitor on vacation from her job. Here, she fell in love with both Flo Colonnier and Svansele and decided to stay.

The move north became a reality when Flo, right after her studies, went to Finland to work with sled dogs. It was a fun experience, but not quite her thing.

In 2012, she went to work as a horse guide on Iceland. That's when Flo first felt she was in the right place, and it was there that she discovered the Icelandic horse and its qualities:

– Since then, it has only been Icelandic horses.

What's so special about Icelandic horses?

– The tölt. Many riders fall for it, it's so smooth and very uniqe. Once you start riding Icelandic horses, you usually only want to ride Icelandic horses. They're also great for families because they're so calm.

Sustainability and environment is important for Flo and Rianne, and their company is certified for ecotourism.

When Flo, after four years in Iceland, felt it was time to start her own business, she turned her attention to northern Sweden.

She contacted Icelandic horse associations and received good advice from the association in Ragvaldsträsk She then inquired with the sled dog company Flarken Adventure in Kusfors, and finally, set out with her then-partner to look for suitable farms.

The last one they visited was on the outskirts of Svansele, and there, everything finally fell into place.

– When we found this farm, we immediately knew it was the right one. "Yes, this is it," Flo recalls.

When Flo Colonnier started Horses of Taiga in 2016, it was a dream come true.

Since then, she has been running Horses of Taiga, a company that Flo now runs together with Rianne Kindt.

Rianne, who originally comes from the Netherlands, entered the picture in an unexpected way: as a guest, on a relaxing vacation with trail riding in the forest in 2019.

The plan was for Rianne to stay for nine days, but the visit turned out to be much longer.

– We fell in love, and she stayed, Flo says with a smile.

Rianne Kindt is an educated physiotherapist and first planned to work with that when moving here. However, working with the horses on the farm turned out to be far no enticing to do anything else.

Rianne not only fell for Flo but also for the horses, the surroundings, and the business. It also helped that she already had a great interest in horses, animal photography, and hoof care.

– I have been riding since I was nine years old. It's my life, says Rianne.

She now lives that life in Svansele and in its surroundings, where Horses of Taiga offers trail riding in various forms.

Flo Colonnier has ridden since she was a child. ”When I wasn't in school, I was at the ridingschool”, she says.

These range from one-hour rides to two whole days on horseback with overnight stays. The different rides also include various nature experiences, with forests, open landscapes, and the Svansele dammängar Nature Reserve.

The business continues in the winter as well, with moonlight rides and full-day adventures in the forest. This is especally appealing for the mostly international visitors who come to experience the exotic snow, cold, and northern lights.

During the summer and fall, however, most guests come from the local area. Visitors from Skellefteå and its surroundings dominate, but some are also coming from places like Piteå, Luleå, Lycksele, and Umeå.

Flo Colonnier has ridden horses since she was six and began entering jumping competitions at nine. Now she offers guests a significantly more calm experience, guiding groups on trail rides in the beautiful Svansele area.

Flo notes that the COVID-19 pandemic gave the business a boost, a trend that has continued even since:

– Since COVID, it's been fully booked in the summer. COVID has been good for us. Before that, not many in the Skellefteå region knew we existed. They looked for things to do in small groups, and riding is perfect for that.

– So they came, and now many come every year.

During the summer, most visitors come from nearby. Something that got a significant boost during the corona pandemic. A lot of people come from and around Skellefteå, but also Piteå, Luleå, Lycksele and Umeå.

The fact that guests don't have to travel far to get here also aligns with Flo and Rianne's philosophy of sustainability and care for nature.

Horses of Taiga has for several years been certified by Nature's Best Sweden, a sustainability label for nature-based experiences.

The grounds around Svansele are perfect for riding.

This means, among other things, that they offer special benefits to long-distance guests who travel by train instead of flying, that they, as much as possible, source locally and that they spend a few days every year picking up trash in the forest.

They also see the guided tours as a way to educate people about taking care of nature. For Flo and Rianne, this is a given.

Icelandic horses are calm and collected by nature. Their well being is a top priority for Flo and Rianne.

– It's just the way we live. We always think about sustainability and the environment. It's not something special we do within the company. It's our life. It's just natural for us to run the company the same way we live.

– Even though we work in the tourism industry, we strive to have as little of an impact on our surroundings, and the environment, as possible, says Flo.

Flo Colonnier on horseback in the outskirts of Svansele dammängar, a nature reserve with impressive surroundings.
Flo Colonnier and Rianne Kindt check on the horses and tack before today's trailride.
Rianne Kindt enjoy's the calm of the forests around Svansele.
The horses are not the only animals on the farmyard in Svansele.
On horseback in the calm surroundings in Svansele.