Meeting in the Netherlands from 11.03.2013 - 14.03.2013
The participants of the partnership from France, the Czech Republic and Germany met for the second time since the beginning of the program at the Dutch partner school in Geldermalsen. Our hosts gave us a warm welcome with a dinner at our accommodation in Tiel. Each participant received a bag containing small presents and the arrangement for mixed work teams (each team consisting of one member of each country) including the worksheets for the upcoming studies on the Konik-horses.
The first day was dedicated to the observation of the Konik-horses. The group drove to the nature reserves Millingerwaard, Gelderse Poort and Konung Wilhelm III Plantage. The work teams were walking around the nature reserves to find the herds to document their observations with the help of their worksheets and furthermore to take pictures of their observations made. They had to describe the breed, explore their natural habitat and had to find out about different kinds of behavior using a guideline to the characteristics of: grazing, excretion, exploring, avoiding, socializing, comfort, reproduction and locomotion.
After dinner the group met at the school MBO Helicon Geldermalsen where Mrs. Renee Meissner presented the Konik - horses in an interesting lecture. She gave a speech about the facts concerning the Konik - horses and the reasons to settle them in the nature reserves. The Netherlands prefer Konik - horses in their nature reserves to keep the landscape open, and because of the horses ‘sturdy condition to stay outside the whole year round and last but not least due to the horses´ friendliness towards visitors of the nature reserves. The unusual friendliness of these wild living horses is based on their breeding. The originally wild living Tarpan was interbred with tame domesticated horses. Therefore the Konik - horses look very similar to the Tarpan. Their characteristic traits make them a semi-wild horse-breed. Originally they come from Poland and belong to the Pony group of horses. Dutch conservationists – ahead of them the biologist Gerben Poortinga who introduced the Konik - horses in the Netherlands in 1981- and environmental organizations see the advantages of the breed in maintaining biodiversity, developing forests and preserving natural meadows alongside the flooding areas of rivers. The wild living horses are left on their own what means that there is no additional feeding, deworming, vaccination, hoof care, or medical treatment. As natural enemies like wolves or lynxes do not appear the horse stock is growing continuously, so that Dutch Konik-horses can be sold to other countries like England. The lecture made the chances and risks for the animals in their contribution of landscape conservation clear.
The second day of our meeting was dedicated to the Konik - horses in the nature reserve Blauwe Kamer, but was not as successful as the day before, because the horses could only be seen while driving along the reserve by car. The afternoon included a short visit to the „Stoeterij Koningsland“ in Elst where the Friesian - horses were performed very impressively.
Our partner school MBO Helicon Geldermalsen opened our minds to the wide range of vocational training in the Netherlands. Around 300 students can be trained to become animal care assistants or can choose among various courses to work in and with nature, e.g. courses in mountain biking, canoeing, forestry, pomology etc.
The meeting in the Netherlands was completed by a visit to the children´s zoo Le Heuvel in Culemborg, where the Dutch students practice their theoretical knowledge of animals by implementing e.g. the Body Condition Scores (BCS).
The meeting gave the participants a great opportunity to test and compare their skills in their field of work, in their social and communicative abilities and to feel positively approved.
The planning of the third meeting in September 2013 in France in the Camargue is in progress and we look forward to the observation of the Camargue - horses there.
23. March 2013