As the saying goes, “The dog may be man’s best friend, but the horse wrote history.” This week we were fortunate to be in a city rich in history and took it upon ourselves to find horse-related attractions in Berlin, Germany.
Perhaps the most famous monument in Berlin is the Brandenburg Gate. Atop the gate is a Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses and driven by the goddess Eirene, who is the goddess of peace. While the Gate has played different political roles in German history, it now symbolizes freedom and the desire to unify the city of Berlin. Our Indian Village Princess, Savannah Sparvier, did a traditional dance in front of the gate and we too, wanted to take part. So, we did an impromptu line dance to Nitty Gritty Dirtband’s “Cadillac Ranch” to honour both cultures’ connection with horses. We had so fun line dancing and gathered a big crowd taking photos and cheering us on!
At the Brandenburg Gate, several horse drawn carriages were lined up eagerly waiting to take us on a tour of Berlin. From the horse-led tour we could see several of the historical marks including the Unter den Linden, Friedrichstraße, Gendarmenmarkt, the French Cathedral, Neue Kirche, Schauspielhaus and Museum Island.
During WWII, the majority of transportation in Europe was horse drawn. While there are many heart warming stories about these heroic animals and their use in the military, one of my favourite stories about the history of the horse in Germany, comes after the war. As automobiles and motor taxis began to take over, Gustav Hartmann refused to retire. He decided to drive his horse and carriage to Paris and back to show the world what his faithful horse was capable of. Gustav became a local hero and is considered to be instrumental in preserving the horse’s reputation in Europe.
It is so amazing to see how horses have influenced history around the world. It is a fun and interesting way to learn about new cultures, which we certainly did a lot of while in Germany! We attended the ITB Berlin, which is the world’s largest tourism exposition. The conference gave us the opportunity to visit with people from around the world and share the story of the Calgary Stampede and the history of rodeo. We had many cool opportunities including a TV interview aired on Chinese networks, a podcast aired across Europe and a lovely evening at the Canadian Embassy. During our time in the Destination Canada booth at ITB, we took a ton of photos and signed hundreds of cards. It was so much fun to represent cowboys, cowgirls and western hospitality on an international level!
We had an amazing trip, but all of this writing about horses is making me look forward to getting back to Calgary to see our Royalty horses, Hawk, Snoopy, Kansas and Blue! You can be sure to catch us on horseback at Aggie Days on Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9, or for our international friends, at Rendez-vous Canada on May 9 – 12.