In most ranching areas, like North America, the herd is driven from one area to
another. The Lapps do not drive the herds, rather they follow the herds to where ever they
may go. Before modern life reached the Lapps, they would live in tents called a kota, and
followed the herds with their entire family. Today, because of snowmobiles, they live in
houses and follow the herds using the snowmobiles. The reason they can't "drive the herds"
is due to the reindeer's instincts. Although the Lapps have been herding the animals for
hundreds of years, they have been unable to breed out the migration instinct.
Before the use of snowmobiles, the Lapps would use the reindeer to pull their
sleighs. This is where I got the idea to use reindeer myself. I saw that the Lapps would
harness nine or ten together in single file, and because the reindeer are so strong, they
could pull the sleigh and two men at 18 miles per hour! When reindeer are used as pack
animals, they can travel 40 miles a day carrying 90 pound loads, and still pull another 450
pound load. For their size, reindeer are pretty fast. The reindeer's top speed is 32 miles an
hour, and that is running through the snow! Because of their size and strength they can
maintain a steady trot over a very long distance.