Konik Horses – In The Vicinity Of Berlin
Konik horses originating from Central and Eastern Europe. The horses of this robust pony breed are increasingly used as landscape keepers – as equine conservationists in European nature reserves, alongside Przewalski horses and cattle species. Konik is the Polish word for small horse – or pony. Konik horses live in the Geltinger Birk at the Baltic Sea in Northern Germany, in the Polish Białowieża National Park, Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands and also in the Barnim of Berlin-Brandenburg.
The herds of the animal conservationists are part of extensive agriculture in the area of Berlin-Brandenburg. The horses live almost wild in large areas of the respective region. In the renaturalised Rieselfeld landscape right behind the Buch S-Bahn station stretching far into Brandenburg. The natural idyll of the Barnim Nature Park begins close to the station. Blackberry bushes typical of railway embankments, a small lake, meadows and forests. If you continue walking, you will reach the area grazed by cattle and horses.
Visitors can walk through to the areas populated mainly with Konik horses and English parkland cattle in the species-rich and semi-open forest landscape. Peace seeking people from the city share the quiet environment with the free-roaming grazing animals and a diverse flora and naturally settled fauna. Birch groves, small lakes. Areas of coniferous forest alternate with mixed forest, sometimes steppe-like meadows and pastures.
In 2011, the first Konik horses and grazing cattle were settled in this area. In the trial and development project “Rieselfeldlandschaft Hobrechtsfelde”, initially planned until 2015, nature conservation, forestry and local recreation were to promote and complement each other. After the trial phase, the project was continued. It was funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the State of Berlin/Berlin Forests, the Brandenburg Nature Conservation Fund and other partners; the project executing organisation is the Friends of Barnim Nature Park e.V.; the care of the grazing animals and fencing is taken over by Agrar GmbH Gut Hobrechtsfelde with its headquarters in Crawinkel, Thuringia, where the company runs the Thüringeti, a similar project with almost wild horses of different breeds and many other animal species.
The Koniks are not very shy, some are even extremely curious. Whoever enters the grazing areas must be aware that there may be encounters with herds of horses or cattle. Signs on the fences draw attention to the fact that an encounter with the cattle bull may also be possible. The video shows a small group of stallions.
The Konik is not a wild horse species in the strict sense, as they are also genetically derived from domestic horse breeds. However, these rather stocky horses are a robust breed that always also lived free – left to their own devices in nature and were even allowed to be hunted in Poland until the 18th century. The Koniks resemble the Dülmen wild horses that live in the Münsterland. There is a reason for the similarity: in the past Konik stallions were introduced to the Dülmen horses mares – a herd of around 400 horses that has lived in the extensive enclosure of the Merfelder Bruch since the 19th century.
On the accessible large pastures of more than 800 hectares of the Rieselfeldlandschaft Hobrechtsfelde, there is the opportunity to experience a constantly evolving diversity of structures and species. The horses care as landscape keepers; like their other animal colleagues, they serve the landscape as foraging herbivores and help to maintain the environment in a natural way. With their hooves, the Konik horses dig up roots of otherwise over-expanding unwanted plants to fortify themselves for the winter with the nutrients of this plants. The robust grazing animals can cope very well with a year-round, almost completely self-sufficient lifestyle. Visitors are not allowed to feed the animals! This could bring their organism into a dangerous imbalance and make the grazing animals ill, which are used to caring for their own food. It is best for visitors to behave as unobtrusive as possible in nature and keep their distance from the animals. Humans should not actively interfere with the existing ecosystem.
Anyone planning a visit to the Barnim Nature Park should inform themselves beforehand about how to behave when entering the habitat of the grazing animals.
All images: (c) Simone Fust / PferdKultur1 Like