Story: A passion for riding

From Canada to the Leventina Western

A journey with Eva Arnoldi to discover an unspoilt wilderness.

Admire the breathtaking scenery of the Leventina Valley on horseback, stay the night in a yurt at the top of a mountain pasture, savour fresh cheese, slow down … and appreciate the simplicity of life as it used to be. These are the ingredients of the original treks offered by Eva Arnoldi with her Leventina Western.


Eva Arnoldi, founder of Leventina Western

Eva Arnoldi, founder of Leventina Western
The landscapes of the Leventina Valley are just as spectacular as those of Wyoming.

Having grown up in the Mesolcina, Eva Arnoldi always spent the summers with her father in the Leventina Valley, at the Marachiei farm in Osco. Her love of nature and, above all, her interest in horses was born there. Even as a little girl, she used to accompany the goats up to the alps on horseback. Her memories of these uphill treks and the herd of free-roaming horses in the alpine pastures inspired her to combine her passion with a career as a dairywoman: a combination that has proved a winning choice over the years. Today Eva is mother to three children and divides her time between the family farm – where she works with her father and husband – and the horse riding business she founded: Leventina Western. 


Pian Cavallo

And to think that she wanted to teach textiles... instead, after completing her studies at the Plantahof school in Landquart, Eva spent a period of time at a stud farm in German-speaking Switzerland. She then went to Canada to visit her uncle, where she learned about Western riding. Here, amidst endless valleys and huge open spaces, she perfected her technique and learned that riding is not just a pastime, but first and foremost a means of transport.

As Eva explains, In Canada riding is approached differently than in Europe. Farmers go out in the morning and return in the evening without ever having left the saddle, even when the route is difficult. They just let the horse get on with it and find the way, exactly as they would do on their own in the wild. This is a philosophy that Eva appreciates and brought back with her to Osco. The call of the family farm proved too strong, and in truth the Leventina scenery is just as spectacular as the landscapes in Canada.

Osco, Valle Leventina
Osco, Valle Leventina

As well as working as a dairywoman, she soon developed a business all of her own involving horses, founding Leventina Western in 2010. 

Osco, Valle Leventina
Osco, Valle Leventina

Eva says that lots of people are scared of horses. Until she turned 13, she  was scared too. It was only by facing her fear that she managed to have more faith in herself and respect for her horse. With Leventina Western she wanted to help people overcome their fears surrounding horses and to introduce them to the unspoilt nature found in our area. It wasn’t easy at first. With a saddle in her car at all times, Eva mostly rode other people’s horses. She then gradually managed to acquire her own and started offering summer camps and courses for children. Subsequently, she added rides and even treks lasting several days. 

You can admire nature and appreciate its simplicity on horseback.
Osco, Valle Leventina

There aren’t many people offering trekking high up in Ticino’s mountains. The trails are sometimes challenging and you need to have suitable, calm and well-trained horses. Over the summer, Eva makes her 8 horses available and provides different types of treks. One of the most popular is the “Crazy Horse Memorial”, which departs from Giornico and makes its way to the Piumogna Valley, all the way to the Alpe Geira, over the course of two days.

In certain sections of this trek it’s like being in Wyoming. The Leventina Valley is spectacular and riders are always left open-mouthed. The picturesque landscape has also prompted her, together with a Native American enthusiast friend, to combine the trek with a special moment: in the evening, around the fire, participants listen to music and hear the story of Crazy Horse.

Osco, Valle Leventina
Pian Cavallo

After the day’s exertions, energy is restored by tasting local produce, including fresh cheeses from the Marachiei farm. 

Pian Cavallo
Pian Cavallo, Valle Leventina

Another high-altitude nature trek makes its way to the family’s alpine pasture of Pian Cavallo (2,100 m a.s.l.), where it is possible to spend the night in a yurt: a magical atmosphere is guaranteed. 

Organising treks from May to September is time consuming, requiring plenty of teamwork that involves the entire family. Although she doesn’t have much time to herself, Eva feels amply repaid by the enthusiasm of her loyal clients, many of whom return year after year.  

Osco, Pian Cavallo
Pro tip
Horse riding lessons, rides, treks to discover the Alta Leventina area and camps for children who want to get closer to the world of horses. Eva's offers are endless and are available at different times of the year.
In Ticino, there are many opportunities to discover the varied landscape in the company of animals. On the trails of Monte Comino you can do Lama Trekking and the town of Mendrisio organises its Palio, an annual event where the skills of participants on donkeys are put to the test.
On August 1st, numerous farms in Ticino open their doors! On the occasion of the Swiss National Day, the traditional breakfast with local products directly from the farm will be enjoyed together.

"I dreamt of something all of my own, an activity that would go hand in hand with my love of horses."