It’s holiday season. Tourists come to visit the beauties of Bavaria. One of the highlights is ‘Schloss Herrenchiemsee’, one of the castles of King Ludwig II of Bavaria on Herren-chiemsee, an island in the beautiful lake Chiemsee. It is situated in a wide park area with spectacular gardens and fountains.
Visitors can enjoy a car-free time during their visit. First, the trip to the island is done by ship with stunning views.
Once on the island, people either walk to the castle or take a ride on one of the horse-drawn wagons which are available right at the landing pier.
There is a long and continuous tradition for this transport mode on the island. Even during the 1950s and 1960s, when it was en vogue in Germany to get rid of horses and carriages, and the knowledge in working with draught horses was fading away more and more, they didn’t give it up. So today, on Herrenchiemsee one can proudly look back on a long history of horse-drawn mobility and collaboration with horses. It is extraordinary, because there are only a few places in Germany, where the horse-based approach is applied in such consequent manner.
On Herrenchiemsee, it is embedded in nature completely. Of course grass and hay from the island is used to feed the horses. But also wood for the carriages – from specially selected ash trees, harvested, processed and built completely on the island by the island team. And the preparation of the horses, mainly South-German coldblood: after initial basic education at 3 years’ age, they spend a year on the island’s pastures, afterwards a year in ‘new-on-the-job’ employment. And only after that the regular work begins. What a gentle up-bringing of young horses!
It pays off. Having a physically and mentally healthy horse, clear in mind, good to handle, makes a great deal of a safe carriage team. And after such an initial investment, the horses work as reliable partners for about 15 years – without physical damages, as healthy and content working horses.
To lead a draught horse stable in such high quality, experience and good organisational skills are needed. On Herrenchiemsee, Helmut Meidert is the long-time chief-on-duty. He knows not only about horse care and feeding, education and training of men and horses, equipment, material and carriages, but also about team management and service presentation – and last but not least financial management. Not only the sold tickets for the shuttle service, but in addition horse boarding and cattle on the pastures contribute to the stable income. This is necessary to run the stable with 28 horses, 10 carriages and the team of carriage drivers economically.
So the overall attributes: precious living heritage, environmental-friendly, sustainable.
For those interested: the shuttle service between the boat pier and the Royal castle is offered from mid-April until the end of October (depending on the seasonal weather).
For further information please visit http://www.herrenchiemsee.de/englisch/n_palace/index.htm
Author: Therese Grosswiele
Photo credits: 1. Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung, 2.-5. Therese Grosswiele