Free-roaming horse Jenny cheers up German lockdown

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) –


Every morning white mare Jenny leaves her stable to stroll through her Frankfurt neighbourhood. Bringing trams to a halt and smiles to people's faces, the free-roaming horse is brightening up the coronavirus lockdown for many.

"Everyone else has to live with coronavirus restrictions but Jenny is as free as ever," her owner Anna Weischedel, 65, told AFP.

For more than a decade Jenny has wandered solo through her local Fechenheim area, a green part of Frankfurt on the bank of the Main river.

She explores the high street, trots along the tram line to a nearby field and spends hours nibbling on patches of grass.

The beloved Arabian mare, already a venerable 25 years old, has always been a hit with residents. But never more so than in recent weeks.

"People seem to notice her more because they have more time. A lot of passers-by stroke her, maybe because they are missing some human contact," said Anna.

Like many countries, Germany has closed schools, playgrounds and many businesses to curb the outbreak.

Though it has slowly started easing some lockdown measures, people are encouraged to limit their social interactions and keep their distance.

But there are no rules against snuggling with Jenny.

"It makes us so happy to see Jenny, we miss her when we don't pass her on our walks," said Gaby Marxen, 61, holding two dogs on a leash.

Johanna, 8, who was also out walking a dog, said: "My brother and I like to pet her."

To avoid misunderstandings, since people have in the past called the police to report an unaccompanied horse, Jenny wears a note around her neck that reads: "I haven't run away, I'm just out for a walk."

The daily ramble ends at around 4:00 pm, when Anna's 80-year-old husband, Werner, jumps on his e-scooter to find Jenny along her usual route and tell her it's home time.

"And then she slowly heads back," said Werner, a retired flower shop owner.

- 'Very patient' -

In all her years of ambling, Jenny has never caused trouble and local authorities have embraced their equine celebrity, the couple said.

"She's a very patient horse, it takes a lot to stress her out," said Anna.

The only thing that upsets Jenny is the noise of fireworks, something she shares with Werner who is haunted by the sounds of bombs dropping on Frankfurt when he was a child during World War II.

"Jenny and I spend New Year's Eve cowering together," Werner smiled.

Jenny's animal-loving owners, who also have a near-toothless chihuahua and look after more than 100 birds, are taking the coronavirus pandemic in their stride.

"We survived the war, we'll survive corona," shrugged Werner.