Picture a vast and impressive mountainous plateau somewhere far away from civilization, in the middle of no-man’s land. Picture a blue sky, endless slopes and sparkling springs that make you think how majestic intact nature is. Now, imagine that the silence is unexpectedly broken by horse neighing. Suddenly, hundreds of wild horses are free-roaming on the horizon and leave you in awe. Would you like to be teleported to such a place? Let me guess – yes, this very moment. Well, nature and animal lovers, follow me, and you will discover the wild horses of Livno but also learn where to gallop with Bosnian mustangs.
This spectacular sight can be seen in the proximity of Livno, a small town situated in the southwestern part of Bosnia & Herzegovina, not so far from the border with Croatia. The area of Livno is famous for its fascinating landscapes – lush forests in the spring and golden valleys in the summer but also water resources, such as the largest man-made reservoir, Buško Lake. Towering above the town of Livno, plateau Kruzi, situated on the southern slope of Mt. Cincar, is home to a herd of majestic wild horses. For more than 50 years, these beautiful animals roam free over this plateau, on the altitude of 1200 m. Rich plains spread on 150 km2 offer abundant pastures for wild horses. It is believed that around 400 Bosnian mustangs gallop in this area. They love to gather between the villages Potočani and Zagoričani, some 10 km of Livno, crossing the main road M-16 in search for grassy areas, water and salt.
The origin of Livno wild horses goes back to the 1970s when the agriculture mechanization took place in the Balkans. Bosnian mustangs are the offspring of the original tame horses that were kept and used in villages around the town of Livno. Some fifty years ago, villagers freed their domesticated horses, replacing them by tractors and other machinery. At that time, there were only a dozen of horses abandoned, but they have bred since then, in spite of cold winters, wild animals and the war in the 1990s. Only 50 wild horses survived the war, but by the time they were protected by the Bosnian law (2010), there were two hundred of them. Having developed resistance against all weather conditions and illnesses, nowadays their number increased to 400, and some say even 500.
Although they are often referred to as wild, this is not entirely correct as they are descendants of once domesticated horses. Hence, a more accurate name would be feral free-roaming horses. And to be even more precise, these stallions should be called Bosnian mustangs. Regardless of the name, these beautiful and grandiose creatures are universal symbols of freedom and many legends have been created around them. Since ever people admired their majestic beauty and skills. For decades, robust Bosnian mustangs succeeded to survive and thrive, in often harsh weather conditions. Nowadays, they enchant all genuine animal and nature enthusiasts who are lucky to encounter them.
If you plan on visiting Mostar, Blidinje Nature Park or Medjugorje, do not miss the chance to see the wild horses of Livno. The good news is that guided adventure tours are available, especially throughout the summer months. Special guides will take you with their off-road vehicles to the habitat of wild horses. While you wait for them under the open sky and surrounded by untouched nature, you will feel a profound silence and serenity. Suddenly they will appear free-roaming in a herd. During this tour, you will not only be able to see wild horses but also to come close to feed them. Galloping with Bosnian mustangs is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that no wildlife lover wants to miss.
Cover picture © credits to iStockphoto/ortlemma
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