Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wildpferde gestern und heute

Several years ago, I expanded my study of all things Sorraia and found myself researching other types of wild horses - those that no longer have living relatives as well as the few that remain in more or less wild living conditions across the globe.  When I corresponded with Hardy Oelke about  extending my studies to horses like the Exmoor, the Przewalski, the Tarpan, etc. it came as no surprise to me that he had for sometime been doing the very same thing and had already collected a large body of images and historic information which he was (with his characteristic generosity) enthusiastically willing to share with me.

Hardy Oelke and Lynne Gerard pose on the last day of the Journal of Ravenseyrie author's trip to Portugal in the autumn of 2011.  (Photo taken by Rosa Oelke)

Friedrich von Falz-Fein / Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During our correspondence on these other types of wild horses, Hardy shared with me the text he had translated of German-Russian conservationist Friedrich von Falz-Fein's account of how tragically the last Tarpan horse met its end.  Hardy told me this translation was something he was saving one day for a book he'd like to write about wild horses.  "That time is now!" I wrote to Hardy, telling him I felt information like this on the Tarpan and the other wild horses was something that quite a number of people would likely find interesting...all the more-so for those with a specific fondness for wild horses.  After that, Hardy began to diligently weave his information together as well as traveling to see Koniks in Poland and Exmoors in Great Britain, revisiting Koniks in Holland and Dülmeners in his homeland to collect even more terrific photos to accompany his text.

Feeling that "a number of aspects had been neglected by other authors" it was Hardy Oelke's intention to "write a book that puts extant primitive horses in perspective, give a certain synopsis as far as prehistoric horses are concerned, and discuss some general aspects such as domestication, dedomestication, molecular genetic evidence, wild horse colors, etc."     

Researcher and author, Hardy Oelke, holds an antiquated Iberian horse skull from the collection of the Portuguese National Stud

All together the content of Wildpferde gestern und heute / Wild Horses Then and Now calls attention to the tangle of truths, misconceptions, short-comings and advancements that exist within the various fields of research that deal with Equus and profiles several present day wild or semi-wild horses that "do not represent breeds created by Man, but primeval forms, or are still close to a primeval form."  This book also includes a brief look at several feral horse types, serving to differentiate from true, zoologically wild horses even as it brings to attention the swell of emotion humans feel when exposed to the natural beauty of horses roaming wild and free.

Similar to the capacity and have for providing a "quick look inside", let me offer you a glimpse of what you will find between the covers of this book that has been published bilingually in German and English:

The profusion of photos and illustrations in this book do an excellent job of illuminating the text and on their own provide immeasurable hippological value.  You may be pleased to even see an image or two from Ravenseyrie!

Aspects within the book I might not fully agree with are remarkably few and I find the explanations provided by Hardy Oelke to be extremely well articulated, worthy of consideration and absolutely appropriate for understanding the challenges of finding commonality among the different fields of research.  It should be noted that in all the study Hardy Oelke has taken of these matters, he has presented his material for review by acquaintances who are geneticists, zoologists and preservationists who have assisted in helping assure the information discussed in the book is as accurate as possible.  Added to this is a qualitative bibliography for those whose curiosity has been whetted with a desire to explore topics or sources more deeply.

Presently the book is being offered through Hardy Oelke's website:  Books for Sale

Equine photographer and graphic designer, Karen Parker is handling the North American sales of Hardy's book on the Sorraia and Sorraia Mustang (Born Survivors on the Eve of Extinction - Can Iberia's Wild Horses Survive Among America's Mustangs) and in March of 2013 will also offer Wildpferde gestern und heute / Wild Horses Then and Now.

In his concluding comments, Hardy Oelke writes, "Whether as zoological gems, genetic resources, important ecological factors, objects for ethological studies, or as pure inspiration - wild horses are always and everywhere of great value."

Wildpferde gestern und heute is beautifully successful in demonstrating - in text and imagery - the "great value" of wild horses and why we should care about the preservation of them.  May it find its way into the hands of those who will be inspired to facilitate conservation of the surviving rare and endangered, amazingly adaptive, remnants of primeval wild horses.