Horse care in Werderland – WESER-KURIER

Their names are Nina and Bianca – the mares that are supposed to tend an area in Verderland as live lawnmowers. Now they are there. Both come from Schneferdingen. Nina and Bianca are supposed to use Angus cattle from farmer Stefan Hacke, who actually lives in Verderland, to ensure the area doesn’t overgrow. This is the concept developed by environmental authorities and conservationists at BUND (German Confederation for Environmental Protection): animals as landscape preservers.

Great-grandmother Bianca, who does not look like eighteen, and three-year-old Nina, whose name is Mausi, seem quite at ease. They didn’t mind the two-hour journey through country roads. “They fell asleep,” says Heike Brinken, who runs the Tütsberg Landscape Conservation Center in the Lüneburg Heath Nature Reserve.

The morning before departure, the riders were having fun with the stallion Findus. “No wonder they are so relaxed,” was the comment of the small group who were standing at the ring in Werderland to greet them. If it works out, the two ladies will be proud mothers to foals next year. The offspring can then also help preserve the area in the nature reserve.

animal value

The Horse Ladies’ new home is a former cleanup field in which sand was dug over 100 years ago, according to BUND biologist Birgit Ulbrich. Special species of birds and insects have settled on these dry sandy grasslands. These include the nightingale and red-back shrike, the blue-winged grasshopper, rare beetle species and amphibian species such as natterjack and spadefoot frogs.

Some pastures were used as anti-aircraft guns and barracks for refugees, and were also cultivated. The site has not been used for 20 years. In this way, a rich life can develop on sandy soils, which, according to Birgit Olbrich, are found only in very few places in Bremen. “Mittlesborn scour field is Bremen’s most animalistically valuable sand scoop field.”

One reason this landscape is so rare is that it takes a lot of effort to keep areas clear of trees such as blackberry bushes. The biologist explained to the advisory board Burglesum when the concept was introduced two years ago, if the growth of trees and young shrubs on the site is not cut back on a regular basis, the site will grow more and more and lose its special value as a result.

open sandy structures

BUND staff have been removing shrubs and robinias for years in order to prevent the 25-hectare area from becoming overgrown. But it was not enough that the Angus cattle of farmer Stefan Hack had been grazing here for a long time and had already taken part in the care. So far they have support. “Horses and cattle have different nutrition and social behavior and they complement each other very well in a project like this. Cattle eat grass and grass and frequently create open, kicked sand structures. Horses do this too, but they also like to nibble at the bark of trees and shrubs and make sure that trees and shrubs don’t grow much” , says the biologist, explaining the train of thought that led to the concept of animal care.

There are role models in Luneburg Heath, for example. Nina and Bianca, dolmen horses, come from there. It is an ancient breed of pet. The horses are raised on the Tütsberg farm in Schneverdingen — “and used to keep the Lüneburg Heath open,” the biologist explains. It took a while for BUND employees to find what they were looking for. “It’s very difficult to get dolmens,” says Birgit Olbrich. The concept setup should also be elegant. “We take a lot of responsibility for horses,” she says. Heike Brinken is pleased that the concept combines “nature conservation and conservation”. Two dolmens, ten mothers and a total of 30 horses live on their farm in the Lüneburg Heath. Nature Conservation Park is interested in preserving the ancient horse breed. Each year, Heike Brinken gives three to four animals that have not been in the barn before to “refresh the blood.”

There is now a collaboration with farmer Stefan Hack. He and Ina Hack will take care of the animals – whatever goes with them: veterinary care, have enough food and drink and can settle down well. According to Birgit Olbrich, the horses were funded by donations and rented to farms. BUND has been collaborating with the Haake family on nature conservation projects for over 30 years, and thus can ensure the animals are well cared for.

On the advice of the Schnevedingers, the decision was made to use an older mare and a younger horse. “The older father teaches the younger ones how to behave,” says the biologist. If the mares have already become pregnant, the young mother can also benefit from the experience of her older mate. Ina Haake will watch the animals and see if all is well with them. “They give birth alone,” she says.

“We’re moving forward step by step,” says Birgit Olbrich. First of all, it is necessary to wait for the birth of foals. There is no talk of a large flock. Horses should not be overbred. “We do not intend to breed large.”

Meanwhile, tension with the locals eased. After Birgit Ulbrich presented the project to the advisory board without notifying them in advance, criticism prevailed. It was about the lack of agreement, about the fact that the pastures and paths were no longer accessible because of the fences and about the felling of bushes and trees. “As environmentalists, we don’t just discount ourselves,” says the BUND employee. In this case it is a matter of balance. “We did not take the population with us,” she admits, adding that “both sides made mistakes.” In the meantime there were meetings with residents. Access solutions are found. “The rink is always open. We have installed gates and the so-called Flakweg is still accessible. We want to live together in peace.”

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