This year I visited Namibia to seek the truth of a myth and wanted to capture it for my new photo series: Wild Horses in the oldest desert of the world – the namib desert. What I found was something totally different from what I had expected, yet it changed everything. At first my heart danced, but when I met a special stallion, it broke. We named him Freddy.


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With the first morning light my fellow traveller Nina and I set out on the last day of our stay in “Aus” to look for the wild horses. Still during dawn we saw a stallion standing next to the road. He was on his own. If he was too weak to follow his herd or if he decided to search food alone was a question he did not answer. The first thing I realized was how thin he looked despite his winter coat. His pelvic bones and withers sticked up high from the rest of his body, his throat was barren. Our presence didn’t bother him, he focused on his search for food. The few tufts of grass on the ground were chewed down or dried up. At some point he decided to inspect us. This time my eyes caught his. They were sticky and kinda sad. And somewhere very deep down, I saw a small sparkle of wilderness hidden in them. Such as a small light which refused to be extinguished. His expression was questioning. But not as in „Who are you?“, like I’m used to from the wild horses I met in Bosnia. More like: „Do you have anything eatable?“

We thought of a name for our new buddy and agreed with: Freddy. Somehow it fit. When writing this report I searched the internet for the meaning which is: the peaceful, the guardian. How true this was. When Freddy realized there was nothing I had to offer him, he began to move his hooves again. He prowled around on the barren ground and then came back, asking again. „Do you have anything now?“ … „Maybe now?“ … „You’re sure, you don’t have some food?“. He tried to bite the thorn bushes, but gave up after a bit. Again and again he nibbled the dried feces of other horses – at the time the most nutritious solution.

I’m going to be honest: My main job was to take photos of the horses. But there are only a few showing Freddy. Though compared to other wild horses we spend the longest time with him, there are the least photos of him. Freddy had a lot to tell me and I had to listen in order to tell you. By looking in his eyes I understood what real helplessness feels like and how tiny my daily problems were. How tiny I actually was. And how important this individual and his problem are. I don’t know how much time Freddy has left to live. If he dies by starvation or if the hyenas will hunt him down, or maybe he will decide to eat that hay anyway. No matter what will happen – I want to find out. I want to witness when the small light of wilderness in his eyes transforms into a huge fire of joy. I want to witness how the winter coat through which you can clearly see his rips step aside for a healthy and shiny summer fur. I want to witness what many years ago so many movies, documentaries and photos promised me: To see the unbreakable horses of the namib desert, the living ghosts of the past.

More info: fotografie-maiwald.com

Freddy and me – a honest selfie

Ghosts of the past: wild horses in the desert

A lone stallion on his search for food

Young stallions within a small fight for food

Soft skies in late evenings

Freddy

Freddy and me .. look at his eyes.

Freddy and me in conversation

Freddy: Trying the thorn bushes on his desperate search for food

Freddy’s eye: Looking for hope

Anybody there?