Horse island Ameland
Horses of Orange
The village of Ballum used to be home to a large castle. This was the castle of the Van Cammingha family. The castle was demolished in the 19th century and currently one finds Ameland's City Hall at this location.
The statue of 2 horses in front of the City Hall reminds of a time that stallions of the royal stud farm grazed on Ameland. Many horses on Ameland still have some royal blood running through their veins.
Horses played an important role on Ameland. For example, horses were used for heavy farm work and for sea rescue missions during shipwrecks. Today, one can still see many horses on the island. These are only used recreationally.
Horse rescue boat
Ameland is surrounded by sea. During heavy storms it happened regularly that ships were in distress and islanders would head to the beach by horse to help rescue sailors. In 1824, Ameland received a rowing lifeboat that was pulled to sea by horses. The men in this boat were volunteers and risked their own lives to rescue others. They paddled through the surf and waves to the vessel in distress in order to rescue as many crew members as possible. The last journey of this row rescue boat was in 1937, and it was subsequently replaced by a motorized rescue boat. This rescue powerboat was also pulled that way. One can still see this in action today. A number of times per year islanders and horses demonstrate how such a rescue mission of the past took place. Owners bring their specially trained horses from their land or stables to the rescue boat location. From there the horses will powerfully pull the boat to the beach. The horses will then continue into the sea and help pull the boat through the surf. Afterwards those same horses, with all their might, will pull the boat from the sea, through the loose sand, toward home again. Experiencing such a demonstration is definitely worthwhile.
On August 14th 1979, disaster struck. During a rescue mission, the rescue boat was pulled through the surf into the sea, as was customary. Normally the 8 horses would be separated from the carriage, but in this case, due to a combination of circumstances, this was impossible. The weight of the carriage dragged the 8 horses under water. Following this dramatic event, the drown horses were buried in the dunes with a memorial stone to honour their loyal efforts.
Musical chairs for horses
In the summer months real musical chairs dances are organised for horses and ponies. Accompanied by a brass band, horses and ponies with their riders trot around the chairs. As soon as the music stops, riders must find themselves a chair as soon as possible, without letting go of their horse. Things can get pretty heated from time to time and it is a true spectacle to witness for young and old.
Wherever you are on Ameland, you will always find horses. Each village has stables where you can take a lesson or go on a nature trip. Taking your own horse along is also possible, because Ameland has enough capacity for renting boxes. Enjoy a trip through the forest, the dunes, or the beach, because it is all possible. Special horse paths guide you along the island allowing you to thoroughly enjoy yourself. If you rather not ride yourself, you can also choose to take a wagon trip on the island instead.
A few times per year several activities will be organised for horse and rider, such as the musical chairs dance, horse marathon and "ringsteken". In our calendar you will find all planned activities.
Horse magazine Penny is very popular among young horse lovers. In 2011, film director Steven de Jong directed the children's movie Penny's Shadow on Ameland. During vacation periods it is possible to visit the Penny's Shadow filmset.