The wild horses of the Giara di Gesturi
The Giara di Gesturi is a basalt plateau expanding over some 45 square kilometers in central-southern Sardinia. It is populated by horses of a very special breed, who run free amongst cork oaks and the remains of 24 ancient nuraghi scattered on the upland’s rocky confines.
You must be extremely quiet to be able to get close to them, and wait for them to stop to drink at the “paulis”, the rare rainwater ponds of the area. Aristotle noted that horses like fields and swamps: “Indeed, in general, this animal is friend to man as much as it is to water”, he wrote. Wild horses definitely like water, but steer clear of people – not that we can blame them, as they were often “attacked” by human predators in the past.
Approximately 125 cm at the withers, “is cuaddeddus” – as they are known in the local dialect – are as small as ponies but are considered horses. They can be black or bay. Nobody knows for sure for how long they have lived in this area of the island: some say since the Neolithic Age, others since the Phoenicians imported them (between the 9th and the 3rd century BC).
They are the last wild horses in Europe. And they are a beautiful thing to look at… with respect, patience and sensibility.