PferdeStark 2013

By John Fisher (UK)

Meaning literally “Horse Power”, this two day event was held at Schloss and Gut Wendlinghausen an historic country house and estate in North Western Germany over the weekend 24th 25th August. Organised by The North Rhine Westphalia region of IGZ which is the National German Working Horse Association, this bi annual event showcases working horses in action, together with equipment and ancillary services.

Twentyfour breeds of heavy, or as they are termed Kaltblut, or Cold Blooded horses were on show, and all of them were worked in one way or another, together with entrants and competitors from fourteen countries. There was no in hand showing. The showground was split into four sectors. Firstly the main ring, in which various events took place on a non-stop basis over both days. This ranged from ridden demonstrations, obstacle driving, pulling competitions, stunt and display riding, to parades of machinery. Mares with foals at foot also took part.

Secondly, The European Horse Loggers Championship was held in a separate ring. This provided an excellent spectator event, where man and horse from across Europe competed. Classes for both single and pairs were run over the two days, over a very tight and technically challenging course. It was interesting to see how the acknowledged masters were supported and cheered by the spectators. The UK had one representative Doug Joiner, former chair BHL who was kindly loaned a very impressive Rheinisch Deutsche Kaltblut gelding “Erke”

Thirdly, The working area consisted of a grass field, where demonstrations of hay making, from cutting, turning, tedding and baling was all undertaken by various hitches of horses, from single to team, displaying an array of modern equipment, whether ground  or power driven

The horticulture and viniculture section, where implements specifically designed and manufactured were displayed with on-going commentary, to inform and educate both visitor and potential purchaser.

The agriculture section where the whole range of equipment from ploughs, harrows, discs, scufflers, seed drills, dung spreaders, reapers and binders, potatoe harvesters, to big bale handlers was constantly displayed with commentary. All horsed by some very competent horseman and horses of various breeds and size.

Finally, The Trade Stands were impressive. Various breed groups were represented including the Freiberger from Switzerland, a very useful light draught which was used extensively by the Swiss Army as a pack horse, to the Flemish, or as it is more generally termed The American Belgian. Saddlers and harness makers from Germany and Austria displayed traditional wares. Other types of harness were Amish, coloured nylon rope, synthetic, to a French designed aluminium all in one collar and hames. Carriages for leisure and competition were displayed from several manufacturers. An impressive display of machinery from manufacturers both from Europe and the USA was both static and used for display purposes, you could sit on it, inspect it, and there were no notices, please do not climb on the equipment, how refreshing. This was not an historic display of equipment used by as the late Charlie Pinney would describe, “Hedgerow Farmers”, but an up to date, technically advanced display of modern machinery with which you could undertake any task, by using equines as the motive power.

A two horse engine, essentially a horse powered tread mill, gave demonstrations of powering a band saw and log splitter, or how to work and exercise your horses when it’s too wet to get on the land. An Austrian company exhibited a two wheeled stretcher designed to be either man handled or pulled by a Haflinger for use in Mountain Rescue, together with newly designed pack saddles.

As you would expect there were also supporting stands with everything from Alpacas to making rope traces, but there was no tat, only items associated with the events main theme were accepted. Of course supported by copious amounts of food and drink, but no drunks. Interestingly a brewery display vehicle carried a man dressed as a monk on the roof who drank from a very large beer stein, my thoughts were, “Health and Safety would have a fit if this happened in the UK”.

At the end of the two days I was exhausted, the sheer scale and activity did not afford visitors spectators , competitors or exhibitors a moments respite. It was as you would expect a very efficient Teutonic exercise in how to put on and manage an event.

If you had been to previous events held at the Cultural Museum at Detmold, this new venue was regarded by regular attendees as far superior. If you have not been, you need to put this in your diary for 2015. I had been looking forward to this event for over a year and was delighted with the result. My only comment. Where were the British exhibitors and competitors?




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Photo album by Ton van der Weerden
Photo album by Matthias Penner
Photo album by Petra Redeker