A guide to the Swedish Kollektivstall
this is Sarah writing to You! As some of You already know, my husband dragged me away to this distant, cold, northern country for two long years, since his company appointed him to work there.
At first, I didnt want to go at all, for lots of reasons, one being that I would have to sell my horse, which I would never, ever do, of course!
So after some discussions the Swedes would call äktenskapliga förhandlingar I agreed to come if he let me bring my horse.
Someone helped us to find a stable. I got a phone number and called this woman MAGGAN who answered all my questions in a funny, sort of musical and not very bad english.
I wanted to make sure there was proper accommodation for my horse, a hage, a ridbana, and things like that.
Once I got there I was happily surprised. The stable had faluröd wooden walls and white fences, absolutely lovely! Nothing wrong with the facilities, not at all! The difficulty was to figure out how things worked in a Swedish stable.
This was something unheard of in the UK: a kollektivstall.
The word “kollektiv has nothing to do with collecting horses! A kollektiv is a group of people who live or work togehter in order to minimize the cost and work load for all. It´s not that stupid, actually!
I found the Swedes quite well mannered, although a little shy. Actually so shy they sometimes pretend to be invisible and don´t always say hello.
They do get pissed though, if You happen to cross any of their mysterious boundaries! Boundaries that You are expected to understand without anyone pointing them out to You.
However, they dont scream and shout, they just walk around quietly hating whoever did them wrong.
But anyway. When I asked about the stable rules, MAGGAN looked confused. After a minute or so, she said there wasn’t any.
Let me tell you, friends, this is SO VERY SWEDISH! They don’t give you any rules -but beware if you don’t follow the rules!
Swedes hate leaders. They pretend they don´t have leaders, but what happens is that some natural born bully takes on the leader role.
They wouldn´t admit that, however. Not even if you put a gun to their head.
They are so democratic it´s crazy! Everyone are asked their opinion, even three-year-old children. Actually, three-year-old children have more say than grown people!
Since the kollektivstall means working togehter there are constant meetings, möten. There are scheduled meetings, extra-meetings and sometimes krismöten.
But never spontaneous meetings, because Swedes need plans and order. They need a detailed schema for the next 6 months to come, and a well defined structure.
And every möte is rounded off with setting the date for the next möte. Not attending the stallmöte is a crime against humanity.
This means that making decisions in the kollektivstall takes forever. If an idea about changing the ridbana comes up in 2015, it takes until 2026 before it is done!
In Swedish stables there is no such thing as staff. Swedish stables are full of worn-out women who do absolutely everything themselves, at home, at work and in the stable.
To pay for help is taboo, which is probably the reason why lots of them “walk into the wall” as they say, or get utbränd.
How ever. In the Swedish kollektivstall, everyone help out with each others horses. It´s great! I just mockar, ride my horse and prepare my horses food. And I only have to go there once a day. Every now and then I take my turn.
Like I said, quite smart!
It wasn´t until the rullande schema on weekends screwed up and the time I put the wrong blanket on someones horse that I realized the down side of it all.
What else? Oh, yes, Swedes are obsessed with säkerhet -safety! The only time I see Swedes lose their cool is when someone does something dangerous without taking precautions, like riding without a helmet -that brings out the monster in any Swede!
And then there´s things like getting a real answer. One day I asked MAGGAN how much spån I was allowed to take. There was a mumble and then the word lagom.
And how much is lagom? I had to ask. The answer was “not too much, not too little”.
Well, friends, here I am in this funny northern, obsessed-with-safety lagom land, trying to get by.
I DO miss England, especially in spring, which sort of never happens here!
Have to rush off to a möte now but I´ll be back with updates shortly!