Eriskay pony foal

Learning about Horses with Horses

Join us for a workshop in Popielno in Poland where we spend 4 days in the forest observing feral living horses, ourselves and what happens to us when we explore and support our own wilder sides.

This workshop is for anyone who wants to connect or re-connect with nature, to discover or re-discover how you are not only part of nature – but are nature.

We will be doing Nature Assisted Mindfulness (NAM), observe nature, ourselves and of course, the feral living Koniks. Not only to learn about these feral living horses, but also to learn about and discover ourselves. Asking ourselves, who am I, the observer?

We will spend a lot of time in the forest, both to find and observe the Koniks, but also to observe and find ourselves, as well as to reflect on both what we can learn from observing feral living horses and ourselves as being the observers, or as being the partners in mutual meetings, in nature.

We will reflect on how we are responsible for what we bring with us when we seek nature experiences, what we leave behind when we return back to our everyday lives.

For those of you who are dedicated horse people, we will also discuss what you see in these feral living horses, compared to what you see in horses living in more domestic settings. As well as what happens to you when you reflect on this. We will also reflect on what we can bring with us home, for ourselves, for the horses that we have, or meet, in our lives.

Nature Assisted Mindfulness (NAM)

The Nature Assisted Mindfulness we do to contextualize ourselves (emplace ourselves) and embody ourselves before we go out to look for the Koniks. To be better synchronized with the forest and its inhabitants and to not bring our everyday stress and high paced life into our experience of meeting the Koniks or any other living being or entity in the woods. We also do the NAM to land in ourselves, open up our senses, connect with ourselves as well as our surroundings, to let our expectations of what we are going to experience fall away, as well as our judgments of it – to support ourselves to instead stay present with what the experience is offering us and how we can stay with ourselves and reflect on the experience instead of trying to change it.

Our experience as facilitators is that the more embodied and emplaced you are during experiences as this Learning Wild workshop – the more you will get out of them. You yourself – are always the main component of your experience. And the mindset we choose to have during the workshop days – will greatly impact what you get out of the experience. To help us with our emplacement as well as our embodiment – we use the tool of NAM.

The Origin of the Konik

We will be staying in the nature reserve of Popielno, in the Great Masurian lakes and forest district in Poland spreading over 1300 hectares, owned by Polish Academy of Science, either in a cottage in the woods, or nearby the woods.

This is the place of origin for most of the today’s Koniks living across Europe. Konik Polski is a uniquely Polish breed of horses possibly descending from Tarpans (Equus caballus gmelini Ant.) who roamed the historical areas of former Poland, Lithuania, and Prussia until late 18th century and even in the early 19th century. Wild tarpans were domesticated and used extensively by the local populations for farming and for breeding with different types and breeds of horses. In 1936 professor Tadeusz Vetulani, a researcher and great enthusiast of primitive horses, started an experiment to prove that Koniks are direct descendants of forest Tarpans (Equus caballus gmelini Ant. forma silvatica Vet). He selected and bought horses who had most of the Tarpan traits from local farmers near Białowieża and started a forest reservation there. After Vetulani’s death in 1952 the experiment was closed, only to be reopened in 1955 in Popielno. Today, the forest at the lakes, is home to two herds of Koniks. At our visit at Popielno, we will be guided out to the Koniks by Professor Marta Siemieniuch from the Polish Science Academy who is now continuing Vetulani’s work of the restitution of Europe’s "wild horse". We will have discussions about rewilding, what a horse is, how you study them, what we can learn from seeing them live their lives like this, “wilder” than most horses you have met before, and so much more!

Eriskay ponies
Observing Free Living Ponies

Immerse yourself in observations of free living ponies and horses. We will discuss and practice both observational skills and the importance to know the observer.

Living like a Horse

See how ponies and horses choose to live when they have the freedom to do so. Will discuss horses as part of the ecology, but also have ethical discussions.

What can we Learn?

The learning will be a mix of guided lessons, discussions and individual and/or group observations of the day to day life of equines living life on their terms.

Choose a Pricing Option

You will have the opportunity to learn about

  • Natural/normal horse behavior
  • Ecology of the landscape
  • Perceptions of equines
  • Humans role in equine welfare
  • Ideas for peaceful coexistence
  • The ponies day to day lives, lived on their terms
  • Equine welfare
  • Learning from nature
  • The equines role in the ecosystem
  • Domestic/non domestic similarities and differences
  • The role of equines in human cultures
  • And so much more!
Eriskay pony foal