Meeting in the Czech Republic
from 22.10.2012 – 25.10.2012
Apprentices, teachers, students and partners from the Netherlands, France and Germany met to study the “Przewalski”-horses in the Czech Republic. Our host-school in Kladruby-nad-Labem gave us a warm welcome and invited us to a first dinner on our day of arrival.
The next two days were dedicated to the “Przewalski”-horses. To introduce this special species of horses living in the wild, Prof. Dr. Evzen Kus, the head of the breeding project at the Prague Zoo reported about the history and characteristics of the horse species. The species is named after a Russian explorer and geographer who got to know about it when travelling round in Asia, especially Mongolia. The “Przewalski” horse has never been successfully domesticated and remains a truly wild animal today. It shows quite aggressive behavior in some cases. As there were no horses left in the wild, the race was “extinct in the wild”. But it was possible to breed them in captivity and the world population today descended from 9 of 31 horses in captivity in 1945. Today the population has risen to about 2000 individuals thanks to the successful work of zoos around the world. Today its status has changed from “extinct in the wild” to “endangered”. The number of free-ranging horses in Mongolia is estimated to round 300. The Prague Zoo contributed to the growth in population by breeding the horses and reintroducing them into their natural habitat.
Prof. Dr. Kus showed an impressive documentary of a 56-hour-journey of one stallion and three mares from Prague to Mongolia where they were released into the wild. In touching pictures the viewers could experience the excitement and tension which the journey caused for the horses and the people accompanying them. Horses on airplanes, on big military trucks, in cages and stressed by unknown surroundings are not easy to handle and require a lot of care and patience. Reaching the Mongolian region, they first had to be corralled in for about 6 months to get used to the climate and to stay under medical control. The horses coped well and could be released to live their natural lives as “wild” horses and contribute to the growth of their population.
On the second day of our visit to the Czech Republic the apprentices and students had to take action supported by Prof.Dr. Evzen Kus. In the Prague Zoo they studied different behavior of the “Przewalski” horses working in mixed groups, each country as part of a group. Six groups were formed to go into details about social behavior, comfort behavior, grassing and excretion behavior, reproduction behavior, behavior to explore and avoid, expression and communication. The groups had in common to work out a description of the horse concerning the head-shape, neck, stick measure, color, leg conformation and body. The results of their work are linked to different pages on the website and conclude in finding criteria for species-appropriate horse keeping.
All in all this meeting was a big challenge for the students to practice their knowledge of English and their ability of communication even if the words were missing. Social skills, respect and acceptance had to be proved.
Besides the “horse”-program the guests got a very close impression of the school and training system in the Czech Republic. The Czech students were taking part in a big hunting event and the visiting students experienced the celebratory beginning and ending of the hunting event.
A guided tour round the State Stud Kladruby nad Labem followed and finally the first meeting ended in the castle “Karls Krone” in Chlumec nad Cidlinou where the guests started their journey home after visiting the castle and getting a short impression of its history.
02. November 2012