One of the biggest attractions of Bosnia and Herzegovina are the wild horses in the Livno area. Technically, these are not wild horses in biological (genetical) sense but rather domestic horses that were released into the wild generations ago. According to locals, the farmers released their horses soon after modernisation of agriculture in the area. They had no need for horse power any more so instead of slaughtering them, they released them into freedom. Nowadays, several hundred of them roam the expanses of Karst terrain around Livno.
Wild horses of Bosnia can be found in several places around the country and also in some other Balkan countries. I’ve heard about horses on Nevesinje plateau, in the north of Montenegro and also some parts of Serbia. This said, here at Livno they are the most numerous and also most known. In fact, they are a tourist attraction and a source of income to many locals!
The area where these wild horses roam is wide. They usually graze anywhere between Livno and Cancar mountain and wider, to east and west. Often they can be found along the main road leading to Kupres. There are a few waterholes where they come to drink. This is a reliable place to see them. In winter they like to hang around the road because they come to lick salt that is used for road maintenance. Still, finding them is a lottery and if you are determined to find them I recommend using a local guide.
Photographing Wild Horses
These really are magnificent creatures and unlike many domestic horses one can observe their natural behaviour in the herd. Also, there are no distractions such as bridles or saddles. When I first photographed them I had no clue what to expect. Luckily I found them close to the road (they were licking salt from the road). As I stopped my van they moved away. That was fine with me as I wanted to observe and photograph them as they were, without them registering me. I counted about 35-40 horses. First I had my telephoto lens (500mm) on my camera and got some distant shots of them in the landscape. It was perfect. There was snow falling down and the whole landscape was just beautiful.
And then funny thing happened. The horses (as inquisitive as they are) decided to check me out! Soon I was in the middle of the herd. Some of them came to sniff me out and one of them started to chew my camera backpack. I switched my lens to 70-200mm and later to wide angle. I was so immersed in photography that I didn’t notice two stallions got into a fierce fight just behind my back!
This was an unforgettable experience and I promised myself to return in summer season. Until then, you can check photos by my friend Miro who visited Bosnian wild horses on his Balkans trip. And here below are some additional photos I took on that occasion.
First, finding wild horses of Bosnia is not guaranteed so you should allow enough time. Also have weather in mind. This means spending a couple of nights in the area. An obvious place to stay is Livno town, where you can stay with locals affordably. A good place to ask for a guide is this community. While you are at Livno, try the local cheese! It is as organic as it gets and you will help local community as well.
What else to explore in this part of the world? First, this part of Bosnia-Herzegovina is very beautiful with wild landscapes and mountains. The surroundings of Bosansko Grahovo are great for hiking and not far from here there is Dinara massif – the mountain that named the whole range extending from Slovenia to Greece. A little further north west there is Una national park – Bosnian version of Plitvice Lakes national park. or you can head south, across the border towards Croatian coast!