This is the English version of the Hungarian Riding Culture website, which is NOT a mirror translation of the Hungarian site. The reason is simple: having different cultural heritage, we have different understanding and different interests. It is not possible to speak about the Hungarian horseman traditions to Hungarians and to the international audience with the same words, and we would like to serve our audience in the best possible way, tailoring our website according to our users's needs.
Hungarians often declare themselves as the "riding nation". It is quite fair from historical point of view. Horses and horse riding played important role not only at the ancient time, during the migration of nations (from 400 to 1000 AD) when Hungarians occupied the land where Hungarian Kingdom was established.
At that time, the famous Hungarian horseback achery frightened the whole Europe. But hosrses played a central role in Hungary over centuries not only in military affairs but in everyday life as well. Ancient Hungarians had relatively small, strong horses with strong survival capabilities, since the environment of their origin was poor in food and wheather conditions were also strong. This kind of horse became extinct at about the 17th-18th century, mostly due to the Turkish invasion. (The Turkish occupation period lasted one and a half century from the mid of the 16th to the beginning of the 18th century.)
Over the centuries, Hungarian had to fight for their freedom again and again. With the exception of a short period between the two world wars, our country re-established its independence only in 1990. This explains why the Hungarian tradition resembles to a bunch of disrupted threads. Whenever it was possible, the best of Hungarians paid attention to the development of the western countries and made huge effort for modernisation of the country. This effort often lead to incorporation of foreign cultural elements, while many part of our tradition had been forgotten. This sometimes happens even today. In riding culture it sometimes meant that we had to "learn back" certain things, that were known centuries before, or even things that were originally our own contribution to the world heritage. A number of elements of the modern American natural horsemanship, or the basic structure of the western saddles are examples for this.
The current movements in Hungarian riding culture tries to rediscover our own traditions and combine them with the modern wester achievements of natural horsemanship.
The aim of Hungarian Riding Culture website is to give an overview of the exciting process and give an insite of a natural way of keeping and riding horses in the 21th century.
It was our plan for a long time to spend a night on the ranch with the horses. By chance it happened finaly in mid-summer night.
This introduction aims at highlighting the main difference of West-European and eastern, namely Hungarian riding tradition.
Part One: Constantin Balassa