Whilst on a trip to Germany at the end of August I took the opportunity once again to visit Pferdestark, the biggest gathering of work horses in Europe, which takes place every other year in the north German town of Detmold. Pferdestark is a honey pot for people from across Europe interested in the practical application of live horse power, as well as those who just like to see the big horses, so by the time I arrived half an hour before the start, visitors from far and wide were already flooding onto the site around the old post windmill overlooking the open air museum and the town.
There is a rather neat phrase in German – ‘wenn schon, denn schon’ – which literally translates as ‘enough already, then already;’ but what it actually means is ‘if a something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. That would be a fitting description of Pferdestark, the German version of Horse Progress Days. For sheer variety of different breeds of draught horses, regional and national harness styles, or for that matter, languages or hats, it would be hard to beat Pferdestark.
PFERDESTARK is the European version of the U.S. Horse Progress Days. Nowhere else in Europe can be found more modern horse drawn machinery and equipment than at Detmold, the shop window of draught horses at work on the field and in the forest. Working demonstrations and international competitions in ploughing, logging and driving are part of this two day event, as well as an international draught horse show.
At the centre of the quiet village of Wendlinghausen in north western Germany is the early 17th century castle, Schloss Wendlinghausen. In August last year it again provided the setting for Pferdestark, the biennial exposition of draught horses and modern machinery. If you know Horse Progress Days, but shrink it to a tenth of the size, and swap most of the straw hats and baseball caps for a range of traditional European headgear, then you’ll get an approximate impression of Pferdestark. Though the scale of the two events is very different, what they share is a great atmosphere, lots of good horses and interesting machinery.