In plain sight: The gallop is gone, but not forgotten
GRONINGEN “His trot is silenced, but not the legend.” For many he has been one of the first glimpses of Groningen, and for the Dutch, a story from the old days. A statue of a horse and his owner has been in front of the Groningen train station since 1959. Before that, it was a famous and sad story about the relationship between man and horse.
The name of the statue is “Uncle Loeks’ horse,” and the story is based around a famous folk tune from Groningen, “The horse of Ome Loeks is dead.”
Here is one version of the song
Before entering into local legend, the horse named Appelon, was a very famous Dutch racing horse. His owner Lucas van Hemmen, nicknamed “Uncle Loeks,” was a successful jockey and local horse trader.
After Appelon’s death, around a 100 years ago, van Hemmen started to mourn his beloved horse. However, the story has another twist: the horse was killed by his owner.
André Tervoort, the city’s sculpture administrator, told Dagblad van het Noorden that Lucas van Hemmen was a café-owner and that Appelon was one of his last horses.
“It’s kind of a funny story, because the horse apparently threatened one of the stall-boys at the cafe and van Hemmen had to help him,” said Tervoort. “He (van Hemmen) grabbed a rake and stabbed the horse in the neck to get it away from the stall-boys.”
After being stabbed the horse did back off. Unfortunately a few days later, he passed away.
“A couple of neighborhood boys saw this (the horse’s death) and spontaneously started singing “The horse of uncle Loeks is dead,” said Tervoort.
After that, van Hemmen started to sing the song around Groningen, and Appelon became so famous that officials decided to make a sculpture of the two of them.
Even though the story about Appelon and his owner is deeply rooted in the stories of locals, thousands of people pass by the statue every day, without knowing it’s history.
The statue brought fame to it’s sculptor Jan de Baat, who passed away two years ago in Amsterdam at the age of 89.
Originally, the statue was supposed to be located at the Fish Market, but vendors protested saying that it would take up a lot of space, so the municipality decide to place it in front of the train station.
Photo by: HERE, eworm (Flickr)