After what you study in school, you would think the world has caught up with the evolution. Well, I’m here to tell you that this is not always true.
Seriously, after reading about bleeding stones, unexplained facts, globalization-challenging villages, wild horse races and the Atlantis connection, where do you think the place I’m going to talk about is? You guessed it, Sardinia. More precisely, Parco della Giara, a wonderful plateau that originated 3000 years ago on top of two extinct volcanoes.
Here the only dwellers are wild animals, be them wild pigs, cows, birds, or horses. While all wildlife has more or less caught up adapting to natural changes, the horses have remained small as they were about 10.000 years ago. They are not ponies, they are normal horses, just smaller. Their elegance would make them a longed target for collectors and horse lovers, if they weren’t protected and so impossible to touch, feed or change in any way their living conditions.
They are wild and so they have to stay, they are helped with food only in case of a very bad drought that would undermine the growth of vegetation they need to survive.
Apart from these spectacular animals, Parco della Giara offers an extraordinary variety of plants, trees, and flowers. Every season reveals itself under the form of different vegetation, different colors and different smells. Similarly, also visitors’ experiences vary. In spring we can see the horses grazing on a beautifully colorful sweep of flowers, in summer we can see them getting some fresh in the water, in winter it might snow and the white makes the view stunning, and in autumn sensual golden hues give the surrounding its inevitable romantic ambiance.
Since we went in summer, we were lucky enough to be granted with the sweet sight of these small horses cooling down in the lake, grazing some water vegetables and looking at each other. Although we were extra careful not to bother them, perhaps they noticed our presence all the same, in fact while we were about to leave, a small family of three, male, female and newborn came near, probably after wrangling with other members of the same herd. In fact, the stallion marked out its territory straight away placing its dung where they were supposed to stay.
Life is tough for horses in the wild, making them live for about twenty years. So the question is, if you were a horse, would you prefer to live free in the wild for twenty years, or inside a stable for forty? My guide, Roberto, native from Tuili, one of the villages bordering the park, maybe due to their inner free spirit, had no doubt: even though life conditions were harder, he would totally prefer to be free to run and enjoy nature in the plateau for half a lifetime than domestic horses.
Going to Parco della Giara makes you sense how it was living in the past, when shepherds used to spend the night in the countryside, used to make cheese, ham and other food in thatched huts and guard their sheep and cows from foxes and thieves. Maybe a not so remote past in Sardinia, where this was the lifestyle only forty years ago, perhaps harder than now, but also with a different relationship with nature.
As Roberto suggested that every season makes the park worth a visit in order to admire different aspects of it, this year I started ticking summer off the list and promised myself I must go back at least other three times to cover the whole year span.
I hope you will enjoy this small video I shot in the park to give an idea of the peace these unique horses live in.
9 thoughts on “In Parco della Giara, where horses forgot to keep up with the evolution”
They are the only wild horses left in Italy, so small and sweet :)
I love your parco della Giara video and learning about the small horses. Very interesting!
Thanks Cathy :)
It is pleasure to realize the fact that there are places on Earth, where travelers can see wild horses. It is awesome!
A must see!
Thank you. Very interesting!!! I would love to see these horses!! I grew up on a small (80 acre) ranch in Yakima, WA, USA. My father was of Irish extraction, and so horses were in his blood. He played polo and later on got into thoroughbred horse racing. It was said there were wild horses on the YAKAMA INDIAN RESERVATION, to the south of my home, and of course, there are herds of wild horses scattered all over the West–in IDAHO, UTAH, NEVADA, etc.–though I’ve only seen them on TV documentaries…. :( But I never DREAMED there might be wild horses in Italy, or ANYWHERE in Europe (for that matter!!!). How cool!!! I hope to come to Sardinia– Perhaps even move there for my health…See if the slower, healthier lifestyle there couldn’t do for me what it has done for others. But I would add a daily horseback ride to the regimen. ;) Thank you again.
Hi. I just left one comment, and then had another thought, RE the horses….But not sure what happened to it! So I shall try again. The thing is, you said ” the horses haven’t kept up with evolution.” But I am not sure what you mean by that. God has built into all life the ability to adapt to our environments. I wish I knew exactly how small is “small.” Anyway, asI was reading about horses of the past last night, I was surprised to realize that most horses seem to have been not all that big! Riders, fighters wanted horses that were small, light, and fast– for the most part. Versatile. You said that “life is rough for these horses,” so being smaller is a definite advantage, right? In terms of survival. :) Anyway, THANKS again. God bless. I hope to see these horses soon myself! :) Though it grieves me that it must only be at a distance. 😞
Thanks, Kathleen! You are always welcome to Sardinia to see the horses of Parco della Giara!
Hi. I just left a comment, after enjoying the info you so kindly provided about Sardinia’s past and its wild horses. But in response to your comment about how the horses “didn’t keep up with evolution ( or “EVIL-LUTION”, as I like to call it 😉), as with all animals around the world, God built into these horses the ability to adapt to their environment. :) You admitted that “life was rough” for the horses in the Park. Staying small is, therefore, an advantage which helps the wild horses survive. And as I was reading about horses of the past–during the Crusades, for example, or clear back to the Egyptians, the consensus seems to be that most often, horses were not that big, as a rule ( to my surprise!)