Today you are going to meet Izar, Haundiko, Txiki, Canosa and Izuti, as well as Wilbur, Wilson, Williams and Wifi, as well as other protagonists.

First thing… Do you know what Pottokas are? They are a breed of horse native to Euskal Herria. They are strong, slender and adapted to their environment, which is none other than the valleys and mountains of that wonderful land. I must tell you that, despite their size, they are impressive because, when you see them, they give off a feeling of strength and hardness in equal parts; It is not in vain that they have inhabited that area since the Paleolithic era.

The names that I have mentioned correspond to 5 mares and 4 foals. I will soon present them to you along with another species that could not be more different: bees.

Although they apparently have nothing to do with each other, both the Pottokas and the bees are part of Joseba Arguiñano’s life (Zarautz, 1985). I’ll tell you a little about him. He is a pastry chef, cook, television presenter and, although there are people who think that it is not good to work with the family, it is not a problem for him to do it with his father Karlos, day after day. Not only that, he has also published the book Cocina con Joseba Arguiñano.


How are you?

I’m divine. The truth is that I have a big family perfectly. The little one, which is my wife and two children, are doing wonderfully and the workshop is still going.

Who are Izar, Haundiko, Txiki, Canosa, Izuti, Wilbur, Wilson, Williams and Wifi?

Well these are Pottokas. The Pottoka is a native Basque breed that is said to be the most ancient in Europe. They have a brutal rusticity, they adapt very well to the countryside, they feed on what we have in the environment and since I had a piece of land with quite a few hectares, which is the best for them, we form a perfect community. They help me clean the land and I give them love, and since I am a baker, from time to time I give them a candy.

At all times there is a family atmosphere, humble and good humor. The truth is that Joseba is just as she sees herself, a close and transparent person.

Where does your passion for Pottokas come from?

I have always been very wild. Since I was very young I have loved animals. My father built the farmhouse, we moved there to live and I think I have always been, among my siblings, the one who has had the most connection with animals. I’ve raised dogs, we’ve had rabbits, pigs, cows, chickens, everything! Some of my brothers have been more oriented towards fruit trees, others towards the garden, and I am 100% animal. After a few years, I acquired a piece of land with the idea of ​​having some bees, and since it was a little big, I thought why not also put some Pottokas. So I started with two mares, then acquired a stallion, bred, and there came a time when I thought I had reached the right threshold. Now I have five mares, foals are born every year, and I place these in nearby hamlets with people who provide me with grass in winter or who help me with the car, since I don’t have one to move them, so we barter. . Right now they are pregnant again and this year we will have more… I have given Wilber to a co-worker, and a friend of mine has kept Williams… But the ones I will keep are the mares, because they allow me to breed .

Do you give it the name?

Yes, I name them and every year we make them start with the same letter. This year they all have the letter “W”, that’s why they are called Williams, Wifi, Wilber and Wilson.

Do you have a good Wi-Fi connection?


Yes Yes! We have a brutal connection. And Williams scores some incredible goals.

In general, we know more about the relationship between dogs, cats and humans, but what kind of bond do you have with the Pottokas?

The link is different. It’s not like when you are with your dog at home, or with your cat, sharing space and sleeping together. With the Pottokas and the bees we are a tribe. We are all on the land, some pollinate, others eat grass, I prepare the fence for them, I bring them water, I give them food in winter… In the end, we work as a tribe and we are all a family. I don’t see them as my pets, but rather that we are all part of that tribe and we are connected.

How do you move between them?

These Pottokas are wild and are not tamed to be ridden on. However, this horse is increasingly being used in horse riding, being essentially a tall pony, which provides an appropriate transition for children who start with small ponies and then progress to medium-sized ponies and finally horses. This type of Pottoka serves as an intermediate step in this progression. Although I have them mainly for your enjoyment and to encourage breeding, since they are an endangered breed.

What can be done to prevent its extinction?

Due to their size, in the past they were widely used in orchards and mines, especially in places that were difficult to access for oxen. However, with the arrival of machinery, they fell into disuse, which has led to extreme danger of extinction. Fortunately, the situation is improving, although there is still much work to do. The Guipúzcoa Pottokas Association advises us on which stallion to pair with which mare, where to place the foals, among other things. Genetic monitoring is also carried out from the time they are small and, when they are three years old, they undergo a test to determine their optimal qualification and thus contribute to maintaining the population of native Pottokas.

They are native to your land… You who have them there… What is the most unknown thing about this breed?

It is a rustic and very natural breed. They give birth on their own, they file their nails on their own, they shed their coat perfectly… People tend to think that they only serve to clean the fields, they believe that they are out of use because they are a medium-sized pony, but in reality, nowadays, both in Guipúzcoa As in Iparralde, in France, they are being widely used in horse riding for jumping competitions and in races. This is something totally unknown because people think that they are not suitable for those types of activities.

How do you communicate?… Do you understand each other?

We understand each other in our own way. I think I understand them better and better. It’s not always easy to make a connection with animals, but little by little I’m getting better. I have also taken courses with experts and have learned a lot. I have visited horse riding arenas, attended professional dressage courses, and I have learned about the first contact with foals… This is very important because foals often have concerns that need to be known. What I can say is that everyone knows me perfectly. I think I am a good friend for them, since I am a baker and every time they hear me they say “the baker is coming!” They like me to pet them, remove some ticks, apply the tick and flea pipette, then pamper them… I would say that, with them, I am like another mare. However, I do not put them through rivers, ride them or put loads on them. They are there to breed, be free and, in the end, enjoy nature.

Like everyone, I like to think that each mare or foal has its own personality. Are they very different from each other?

Yes, they are very different, but in the end the basis is the same. Once an older mare came to me who, I think, had had some misunderstanding with humans. They remember that perfectly, and it was very difficult for her to get close. She spent three months without getting closer than 50 meters, but the next month she got closer to 30, then 20, and so on progressively until she regained her confidence. The important thing with these animals is that they are the ones who set the pace. I give them their space and this mare, today, comes to me, I remove the ticks, I caress her and I give her a bridle with a lot of care and time. In the end, they remember everything and the only thing you have to give them is a lot of love and peace of mind.

Do you share special moments with them?

I’m a little attacked, I always rush everywhere, but when I’m with them, they put my feet on the ground. Sometimes you see other ranchers who are in a hurry and to put the mares in the cart they hit them with the stick, but I have never done it. A lot of times, I’m upset about recording, work, family, whatever, and you go there and poof! you put your feet on the ground. You see how they get closer, one is happy, you give the one who is sadder a caress… It’s that moment, it’s you with them and there is nothing else. Those moments are wonderful because you completely disconnect, you are there, in the tribe, and you are just another animal.

Among all those things that occupy your life, do you have enough time to spend with them?

I make a lot of time, honestly. I really like going to the field and I go every day because, in the end, they are little hearts that you have there and you have to take care of them. That gives me incredible peace, arriving and seeing that they are well… Sometimes I open an enclosure for them so they can eat new grass and there they are delighted. Those are the tasks, opening the fences, telling them “today you are going to eat this hectare and a half, I’ll leave you here for a little week”… I go every day because if I don’t I get nervous and it relaxes me to see them calm. Sometimes I go for half an hour and other times all morning.

What have they taught you?

They have taught me that everything takes time. If you try to go too fast, you will end up taking a step back; It’s like that with animals. Look, this one I was telling you, one fine day he approaches and you think that things are going better, but suddenly, you drop a piece of bread on the floor, or whatever, he gets scared and runs away… One day you screw up. , I don’t know why, and you lose what you had earned in a month. But if you earn a horse’s trust, he will give his all for you. Everything, everything, is incredible!

Joseba transmits such great affection for his Pottokas, and he does it in such a way, that you can’t help but think… What a good guy!

Pottokas are a fundamental part of your life, just like bees, which in fact arrived before…

That’s how it is. The bees arrived first, and I’ll tell you why. My wife and my father-in-law are from León, and we would spend every summer there. I have a friend in León who has bees, and I helped him collect honey, which sparked my interest in beekeeping. So much so that I decided to sign up for a course on beekeeping, because in the end, it is necessary to learn from the experts. It is good to learn from someone who knows, but course training is essential. Right after, I bought my first five cores, which are the five hives.

When you have the nuclei, you buy the nucleus in which the workers, the drones and the queen come. This nucleus comes with a family of 5,000 individuals, which you then place in your hives to start your bee farm. The first year was very good, the bees adapted well, although they did not produce much honey because in those first months it is crucial to stabilize the family. The following year, the second, I started making honey, some propolis, divided hives and expanded the family.

However, here in the north and along most of the coast, there has been an invasion of Asian wasps which, between late summer and autumn, has caused me many losses in recent years. You manage to grow the family, you have eight hives, the Asian wasp arrives, and you are left with two or three again, and you have to start over.

So I keep going, learning, improving and looking for ways to coexist with the Asian wasp. It is something exciting because it sets my pace in life. I visit them every 15 days, and I must say that the world of bees is very intuitive. You must anticipate the weather, know if good weather or storms are coming, if you need to expand the house… You must always be a few steps ahead so that the hive is in perfect condition. It’s all very mental, very much turning your head around, and you have to always be attentive.

For me, it has been very beneficial because it is like a ritual. Every time I go, I prepare well, I am well hydrated to resist, I light the fire, I close it, I give them what they need… It is very intuitive, very beautiful and at the same time you never know what you are going to find when you arrive. It is a constantly evolving process, and sometimes frustrating because you don’t always get it right.

Is it possible to establish a relationship with them?

I don’t think it’s possible to establish a relationship in the traditional sense, but I do think they recognize you. There are more aggressive hives, others calmer… each one has its own character. However, I think they identify you by your smell and are calmer with you. I don’t know if it’s because of the pheromones or another factor, but they recognize you.

When you are new and buy a nuc, the bees may react aggressively at first, but over time they get to know you and get used to your presence. There will always be a more aggressive bee that attacks you, but in general, they adapt.

Our native bee of the Basque Country, small and black, is also in danger of extinction, so we are making an important effort to preserve it and promote good pollination.

Have they taught you how to organize?

Definitely. Beekeeping requires careful organization and always being attentive. For example, in winter they must be treated against Varroa, a mite that can make them sick, and as I told you before, Edu, we must also combat the Asian wasp. Controlling these aspects is essential to maintain the health of the hives.

Between the Pottokas, the bees, the workshops, the TV… Do you have time for anything?

I really like fishing, I am a man of the sea. My father has instilled in me this connection with the sea, which I consider very important because we are losing our connection with nature, but I am a man of the sea. I was born in Arguiñano, on the beach, I love surfing, fishing and sailing. Without the sea, I don’t know what I would do. Of course, I also need contact with my animals and the land, because we are land beings, but our relationship with the sea is fundamental. Whenever I can, I make time to sail with my family, go fishing with my dad or surf with my friends.

Cooking with Joseba, your book, reflects your travels in the form of recipes…

Yes that’s how it is. It is my first book and I have a special affection for it. In it, you will find a little of everything I do. As my father taught me, at home I do a little of everything and a lot of nothing… We laugh…

In the book, you will find sections on breads, my experiences visiting markets and trying native foods from other countries and cultures. You will also find many fun starters and snacks, which are my weakness. On television, we often make fancy food and get excited about dishes like “crunchy” or “tartar”… but at home, my father is the one who cooks every day and we usually eat spoon dishes. Away from home or watching TV, I love special starters. For example, when we celebrate a birthday or get together to watch a soccer game with friends, I don’t serve the usual stew, but I go a little further and prepare some of the fun snacks that you will find in the book.

Just after talking about their starters and snacks, they tell Joseba that she has four minutes to go in to record the television program. His pace is frenetic, but he has still been kind enough to spend some time with me to talk about the tribe he forms with his Pottokas and bees. Before saying goodbye, we talked about my next trip to Zarautz and he recommended the best places to eat in less than a minute. But anyway, that’s another story.