from horse power
to electric energy
The first visit to the Princes' Islands in 2016 was remembered as getting off the ferry the first thing that brought me to the here and now - the unusual background sound - instead of the sound of internal combustion engines there was the incessant knocking of horseshoes and light smell of horses. As it turned out except fire-fighters, ambulance and garbage collectors everybody else uses bicycles or phaetons for transportation.
After a while, this time arriving in Istanbul, the first thing I asked about the islands - are the horses still there? Not expecting any other answer than yes. But it turned out that circumstances have changed since the beginning of 2020.
After a long period of dissatisfaction from most residents against the harsh exploitation of horses, the island entered a new era. The phaetons are replaced by small 8-seater electric buses and electric taxis for 4-5 people.


Сoachman from Princes island. Heybeliada
"I devoted many years to this business. Now all this is gone. The collection point now has a parking lot for electric buses. I looked after my pets very well and did not sell when they bought them. I still take care of my site. Only now my carriage is under arrest.
Every day at the same place I wait for the court's response to return it. And here (to drive electric buses) they do not take to work. " - told Chetin with a wheezing voice.

His friend told me that Chetin wakes up everyday at 9:30, then after breakfast in the cafe he comes to his phaeton at 12 and spends some time here till lunch, and then, after lunch sits there till the evening.
All sources consulted referred to the Büyükada stable, built for horses after the changes. There I went to visit them. Having reached the most remote point of the island, immediately after the cemetery, Aia Nikola reached the place of "Faeton Park", but the worker at the gate said that civilian access was denied and only after receiving permission it was possible to visit their wards. He also answered the questions briefly but informatively: 118 horses remained in the stable and added that there is a private one in
Heybeliada, owned by a man that resisted selling.

And the owner in the end turned out to be the same Chetin. He was glad to meet again, and even more delighted with the interest in the story - his eyes shone with joy and pride. Since he could not leave his post he described the way to his stable, where I met a local who visited it as well.


Resident of Prices island. Heybeliada
The coachmen, earning their bread, missed the fortunes of the horses. The condition of the horses was rather bad, you could even count their ribs. The interest from tourists was great, and there were a lot of them, and in competition sometimes animals worked out 3-4 rides, adding 4-5 passengers per ride, steep climbs of the island and humid and hot summer days, lacking two horsepower on everything, there were animals in the middle threw back their hooves from exhaustion.
And they were thrown off the cliff. There were cases, so as not to miss a shift, they covered their wounds with shoe ointment so as not to confuse tourists. Or sometimes the horses feeding their cubs refused to "work", the small ones were thrown off the cliff as well.

After complaints from the townspeople, the state bought horses and chaise from the owners. As appropriate, they accepted from the representatives of families charioteers as electric bus drivers. And the horses that were bought up from all the islands were transported to the newly built stable on Buyukada - "Big Island". A couple of weeks ago I was there, they have significantly recovered, got better.


Resident of Prices island. Heybeliada
There are 6 horses left in Chetin's stable. Here, already in ruined places, 17-19 Turkmen lived who looked after the horses. During the reform period, a whole culture disappeared. And people dealing with horses have gone away. Now Chetin or his son comes 2-3 times a day to take care of the horses and then leave.
The opportunity to visit the full-fledged islanders peacefully grazing on the outskirts of the stable, as in the old days, was very joyful. I also heard the words of people passing by, "Horses used to live here." It would be great
to support Chetin so that there would be a place on the islands where horses would graze on a separate area for them, and people could visit and bring them carrots to eat.
Buyukada - Peinces' island, Istanbul, Turkey / Nov 2020
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