It’s been a few weeks now that my soul trip to the wild horses in Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina took place. And always when I think back of this wonderful event my heart opens and I feel a deep connection to everything…
The trip was planned a while ago and on April 29th I flew to Split, Croatia, the nearest airport to Livno. For a couple of days I had the chance to visit the beautiful town of Split before my trip continued. It felt very familiar upon arrival. I have not visited my home country Serbia for 5 years and suddenly a long forgotten but also repressed feeling of “coming home” came up. Of course I noticed differences to the neighbor country Serbia but not so much in the people. The warmth, helpfulness and openness reminded me to well of the Serbs. Since the 1980s complex mixture of ethnic, religious as well as serious economic problems led to wars which caused the disintegration of Yugoslavia. This disintegration has left its mark, but neither in Croatia nor in Bosnia did I feel uncomfortable, on contrary, as a Serbian woman who travels on her own I felt very welcomed by everyone.
After spending two beautiful days in Split I drove to the meeting point at the airport in Split. There I met the other participants who attended the wild horses workshop. After a while our drivers picked us up. To my advantage I was able to communicate on the 120km route to Livno with the driver, who only spoke a few words German and English. He is a board member of the municipality of Livno, which has managed to protect the horses, which were released some 60 years ago by farmers, and to ensure their continued existence by donations. He is also the chief ranger on the guided tours to the wild horses. He told me a lot about the large municipality of Livno and of course the wild horses. My anticipation rose minute by minute and I could not wait to encounter the wild horses…
Upon arrival at the hotel, we were welcomed by Makisda Vogt, founder of Academia Liberti (http://academialiberti.de/en/), organizer and leader of the workshops. I knew Maksida already virtually, and therefore I was looking very much forward to finally meet the woman who is committed with her heart and soul for a better life for horses. After a short refreshment in our rooms we went to town for dinner. Women from Germany, Austria and Switzerland attended the workshop and we had the chance to get to know each other better and plan the following days.
Before heading to the horses the following morning we went to get supplies to the supermarket and after the breakfast the rangers picked us up with their jeeps. I was driving with the lovely Mara and her two dogs, Sila and Joy, who travelled with her own jeep from Germany. After a short time only we left the streets and continued on the gravel paths uphill. But even the gravel paths started disappearing after a while so that our trip continued completely off-road over hill and dale. The farther we entered the stunning landscape, the bigger the anticipation, and a tingling sensation started to spread through my stomach.
After 1.5 hours I saw something moving on the horizon…there they were…the wild horses. My heart jumped for joy and at the same time I felt very relaxed and calm. Different families and bachelors shared the space for a siesta as it seemed. I jumped out of the jeep and started walking. An indescribable feeling came up…
Sensitive people tend to perceive and absorb energies from humans and animals. This can be a curse, but at that very moment it was the greatest blessing for me. It is difficult to describe with words something that is so very touching. These horses reflected such a “pure energy”, something I have never experienced before, neither with humans nor with animals. It felt like every cell in my body got touched by this pure energy and I could not hold my tears back. I just sat there on a stone for a while, deeply connected to nature, the horses and myself.
But It did not last too long and a young mare approached me. In small steps she came up to me and I stretched my arm towards her. Carefully and gentle she touched my hand with her nose and then came even closer until her nose reached mine and we shared our breath. Immediately she put a smile on my face. One overwhelming moment after the other seemed to have started.
In the midst of these wild horses I noticed how subtle their body language and their reaction to ours is. A small hand movement, a lift of the shoulder or just a look is enough to make the horse move. No comparison to our domesticated horses.
Family is very important for these horses. As mentioned above we met different groups of families who all shared their space as a collective at this very moment. Wolfs also share these beautiful surroundings, and especially in spring, it can happen that they also tear foals. So it makes sense for the horses to gather as a community to protect themselves and avoid danger. There is neither food nor space shortage therefore there is absolutely no aggressive behavior between the horses. On contrary, they all live in harmony and deep connection to nature, as it’s supposed to be.
Something I have not seen in our domesticated herds is the wisdom and calmess the lead mares show in Bosnia. She is the one who decides when and where to eat and she is also the one who decides how to behave in a dangerous situation. The foals are educated in a very strict way, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, more in an essential way. They are not only educated by the lead mare but by all family members. In this way they find their very own, individual place in the herd. Even if a hierarchy exists, it is not necessarily noticeable. The youngsters learn from their elders, experienced and wiser in order to integrate into the social structure oft the family and community.
When the young stallions reach about their 3rd year they voluntarily leave or are sent off from their families to join a bachelor group with other stallions. In their playful fights with each other they train their body and learn from the elder stallions and when they reach 5 or 6 years they start to build their own family or try to steal mares from other lead stallions.
The stallions touched me profoundly. The inner peace and freedom they reflect took my breath away. Their movements were so expressive and gentle at the same time, in perfect harmony with their bodies. They are the ones keeping the family together and defending their mares. There are usually no bloody fights taking place as one might expect. The position of the stallions is often already defined, so when two stallions meet, a threat with the forequarters is often enough to make the other move away. But this is no less spectacular to observe. Nevertheless, there are serious fights where the stallions get deep scars and get injured, but these are only scars on the outside and they usually heal. Because their eyes don’t reflect any scars nor woundings. Their eyes reflect freedom, peace and humility.
Another very special moment I have experienced with such a stallion. If such an impressive animal walks towards you, one might get a bit nervous at first. Very careful but firmly he approached me only to briefly sniff on my hand and to disappear again. We met each other with great respect. On the outside nothing much seemed to happen in these few minutes, but deep inside of me a transformation happened in that very moment.
Unfortunately the world of our domesticated stallions looks anything but free and wild. Before I decided to have my own horse, I took care of a mare who was stabled in a classical sports- and breeding stable. I don’t know how I managed to bear the feeling I had in this stable. There were a lot of stallions, all locked up in their boxes. Without exeption, all of these stallions had behavior issues. Maybe not at first sight but when looking in the eyes of these stallions you could immediately tell how they felt. By the way, this are the energies that are a curse when someone is very sensitive. A lot of these stallions were very agressive towards humans and I don’t blame them. One poor guy had his box next to the open stall and often I could see how he reached his head over the box walls to see the other horses in their open space. It broke my heart, and the thought that so many horses, not only stallions live their lives like that, still breaks my heart.
For me it is impossible to compare the being of the wild horse with the being of our domesticated horses. Very few are able to offer their horses enough space. Very few are able to keep their horses in family herd. And very few are able to keep their horses without having any requirements on their horses. But all this is the essence of the wild horse!
I realised that I will never be able to give my horse such freedom. Maybe someone will offer me 300 hectares, then things might look different. But even then will the soul of our domesticated horses already been touched and marked by human hand. But what we can and should do is try to provide the best possible lifes for our horses. At least we should grant them free movement, enough food and social contact, also for the stallions.
Finally something to think about: I was rebuked by a lot of people about the word “wild horses” and that it is wrong and should be “feral horses”. Maybe this is correct but for me personally the word “wild horse” matches perfectly with my experience in Bosnia. These horses are deeply connected to nature and live in harmony, and I don’t mean just their surroundings. But their inner being which is untouched by humans and our idea of horses. These horses don’t see anything bad in us humans, on contrary, for a short time they open up and show us their soul as if it were the most natural thing in the world. For me they are the true “horses”…wild and free!
I recommend you decide for yourself because this experience is difficult to describe in words, it must be felt. The next workshops are taking place in September (http://academialiberti.de/de/workshops/47-workshop-wildpferde-m).
Thank you “Wild Horses” for making me look within so deeply and bring me closer to be “wild and free” myself and at the same time not to forget the importance of family and community 🙂 I will for sure come back…