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“We left no one behind” – Ukrainian woman flees with 11 horses

by Laura Wienecke
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At first, Anita Krylova thought it was impossible to escape from Ukraine – she has eleven horses and ponies. But as the war approaches her riding stable, she organises a transport. They have not quite reached their destination yet.

To leave Ukraine without taking her horses with her – that was out of the question for Anita Krylova. She is 31 years old and has been working with horses for 15 years. Anita lives in the east of Kiev and works as a horse trainer. She is the founder of the “Liberty Horse Team”, which focuses on free work and harmonious cooperation with the partner horse. “I can’t imagine my life without my horses. They are like children, I can’t part with them,” she says. “My team and I have a very close bond with our horses.” Some of the eleven horses and ponies have been with her since they were foals. Among them is a Przewalski horse she took in in 2020 after a forest fire in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl.

When the war broke out, Anita Krylova first wanted to stay. Escaping with her animals seemed impossible. But fodder became scarce, hay and straw stores were destroyed and burned. When several riding stables were hit nearby and horses belonging to her friends could not be rescued from the flames, she and her team decided to leave. But how? “We didn’t have a horsebox or enough cars with trailers.” Although there were many offers of help from other European countries, she said, no one was able to get to Kiev in the danger zone with horse transporters.

Truck converted into van

Krylova’s friend finally built a horse transporter out of a truck, in which eight horses can stand side by side. The three ponies went into a horse trailer. “He knew I wouldn’t leave without my horses,” says Krylova. She didn’t think it was possible, but after three days and two nights of work, everything was ready. They set off with 13 people, eleven horses, two dogs and a cat. “We left no one behind.”

The road was difficult. “We took a big diversions around Kiev to avoid the fighting. The streets are full of military. There were long traffic jams because many people are fleeing,” says Krylova. Almost all petrol stations were closed. Those that were still open gave out very little fuel. There was hardly any water for the horses and only little fodder. The animals could not be unloaded either. In addition, there were constant checks at checkpoints.

“We heard shells all the time, especially at night and in the morning. The day we left, the sounds were closer. Everything was fine on the road, but near Vinnitsa we heard sirens: an air raid. When we drove past it, there were rockets flying. Miraculously, nothing happened to us.”

A Polish stable owner wants to help

They spent three days on the roads until they arrived in Khmelnitsky in western Ukraine, about 370 kilometres from Kiev. Here, acquaintances of Krylova have a riding stable and took in more people and their horses. The horses stand in pairs in the boxes, in the riding hall, the lunging circle. Food is scarce here, too, Krylova and the others try to find more hay. But here the horses can rest for a while until they go on to Poland. They are exhausted, but have otherwise survived the long journey well.

Krylova does not know how long she will stay in Khmelnitsky. Her expected destination is a stable in Zamłyniec in Poland, not far from the border. The stable operators there have offered to take in her team and her horses.
But getting there is not so easy. There are entry regulations for horses coming from Ukraine to Poland. The current situation has not changed this. Ukraine is considered a third country, and no horse may enter the EU directly from there. A veterinary health certificate must be presented for horses. In addition, horse passports and vaccination certificates are the duty and the horses must be chipped.

In addition, there is only one border crossing through which horses may be transported, and that is in Korczowa-Krakowez, as the “Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation” reports on its website. Afterwards, the animals have to be quarantined for 21 days. The organisation is coordinating how help can be provided. So far, there are still about 100,000 horses in Ukraine. But only 100 have been brought from Ukraine so far. Two drivers for cars with trailers could be organised to try to bring horses out of the danger zone to the west of Ukraine.

“The situation can’t get into my head”

Krylova does not know how much the documents and certificates will cost. She doesn’t have much money left. Now she had to leave everything behind. “It was not easy, but we had no other choice, we had to get the horses and ourselves to safety.” Will her boyfriend be able to leave Ukraine with her and the horses? Krylova doesn’t know that either. He has the necessary certificate, but will he really let be out?
She is in contact with her family. Krylova’s father and many of her friends are in Kharkiv, where she grew up. Her mother made it out of the city; there was heavy fighting near her house. It is uncertain whether the house was destroyed. The whole situation is taking a lot out of her: “I can’t get it into my head. More and more news of destruction and the death of people I know. If one of your friends is not available for a longer time, it is impossible to stay calm.”

She has many friends and relatives in Kiev who have been unable to leave. Most of them would have pulled themselves together after an initial hysteria and started to help others. “My ex-husband is involved in evacuating people from crisis areas, my friends are helping riders find hay, transport and shelter. We are trying to band together and help everyone who needs help now.”

Source: faz.net

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