The projects implemented under the Cross-border Cooperation Programme Poland-Belarus-Ukraine 2014-2020 are not just indicators, budgets, reports and payments. Although these are inseparable elements, above all each project hides the specific ideas, values and dreams of people implementing it, as well as the stories of those who benefited from their implementation.
We want to bring some of them closer to you by the "Project stories" – the cycle which presents their more human (but also animal – as in the 1st, 13th and 14th episodes) dimension of our selected projects. We invite you to read!
Compared to others, it is not tall and not very handsome. It can be stubborn. When it wants to go its way, it will. And trust it, because it knows where it is going. Always persistent. Can survive in the open air, even in winter.
Clever. It will open a gate for itself, walk across a wobbly bridge, overcome obstacles to seek the freedom it loves above all with its wild nature. At the same time it has unusual patience with people and calmly endures even an unbearable child, who jumps on his back constantly wriggling.
Out of curiosity... curious. It will come up by itself to get to know you better. And as it approaches, it will gently poke at your pockets in search of a treat.
One of the two most important mountain horse breeds in Europe. Without it, the Carpathian landscape would not be the same.
It was shaped by the harsh environment, where often a lack of forage. Not once it was forced to dig out the remains of grass with its hoof from under the snow. It is not a noble horse, which was shaped by the steppe or the desert, where the defence against predators is a fast escape. The Hutsul horse could not afford it, because in a panic escape it would simply perish. So it had to learn to move efficiently in the mountains...Władysław Brejta, project manager, from the Hutsul Horse Breeders and Lovers Association placed near Rymanów (PL) could talk for hours about his subjects.
The extraordinary features of these equine were first noticed by the Hutsuls, who used them mainly as pack horses. Nowadays, Hutsul horses – due to their gentle and patient character – are used mainly for the first contact between a human and a horse, for learning horse riding, for hippo therapy and for peaceful excursions and rallies in the mountains. Unfortunately, it is a breed whose existence is still in question...
It is estimated that in the entirety of Europe today there are approximately 2500-2600 Hutsul mares, out of which about 1600 in Poland. According to the FAO guidelines, the breed is considered endangered if there are less than 5000 females in its population. So Hutsul horse is still an endangered breed. In Poland, we receive EU funds to save this breed, but unfortunately, there are no such subsidies in Ukraine – says Brejta.
That is why enthusiasts from both sides of the border decided to carry out new projects not only to save, but also to promote this rare and unique horse breed. Using funds from the PBU 2007-2013 Programme, they implemented the project thanks to which stables, riding halls and administrative buildings were modernised. An inventory of these horses was carried out in the Zakarpattya region in Ukraine to search of animals which could enrich the modest genetic pool. The so-called "Hutsul paths" were created – for training horses and conducting their performance tests. A joint strategy for the restitution of this breed in the Carpathians and an event entitled "The Hutsul Horse in the Culture of the Eastern Carpathians" were also prepared.
What connects us with our Ukrainian partner is, above all, a passion for the Hutsul horse which is a common heritage of the Eastern Carpathians, especially the highlanders living in the Hutsul region and the people living in the Low Beskids. The Hutsul horse's homeland is the Hutsul region, while Polish breeders and scientists did most to save this population after World War II – says the project manager.
Partners from Poland and Ukraine do not cease in their joint efforts for this horse breed. They already started the implementation of next joint Polish-Ukrainian project "We get to know the natural wealth of the Carpathians with the Hutsul horse", financed from the PBU Programme resources for the years 2014-2020. They plan to create two Carpathian lands of the Hutsul horse: Beskid's Land and Marmor's one. In the Low Beskids, the existing horse trail will be marked with QR codes, which will be tested by a group of 20 riders during a sightseeing and nature walk. The Ukrainian partner intends to design a similar trail in the Hutsul region and then to prepare technical documentation of a stable building for horses with facilities and storage room. Together, the partners also want to promote a Hutsul horse breed via joint website or TV reportage.
However, the war stood in the way of these plans...
People come first, we need to save people – stresses Wladyslaw Brejta. – but the animals will hurt as well. There are not many Hutsul horses in Ukraine and I am afraid of how many will remain after the war.
One source of income for horses in the Hutsul region was the sale of young ones, but nobody buys them when there is a war. The other source was recreation for tourists and patients - now the resorts and sanatoriums are filled with refugees from the East and no one thinks about horse riding. For the time being, there is no possibility to temporarily transport horses to Poland. That is why the Polish leader of the project – Hutsul Horse Breeders and Lovers Association - organized a fund raising campaign to keep the horses in Zakarpattya. They reached into their own pockets and appeal in social media to all people of good will.
It is said that the true measure of humanity is one's attitude towards animals. The project partners pass this exam with flying colours. We all hope that their joint efforts will result in increasing the number and popularity of the Hucul horse breed both in Poland and in Ukraine and it will no longer be an endangered breed.
Was this page useful?