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Review: Puszta Trail

Specialist Holiday - Horse riding

Great Plain, Hungary

Horse Riding in Hungary

  • By SilverTraveller Holland

    35 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • Jun 2010
  • Friend(s)

49 people found this review helpful

Two hours taxi transfer from Budapest Airport brought us to Virag Tanya to be greeted by our charming host, Oliver, long hair, designer stubble, looking very attractive in Hungarian national costume: immaculate white shirt with balloon sleeves (I bought one to take home) waistcoat, breeches and leather boots. First undertaking: to taste the national drink Palanka a kind of schnapps or grappa home made with local fruits by the delightful Angela. This was to be the routine; palanka was served before meals, during meals and after meals. And the meals were delicious with meat from Oliver’s own pigs and sheep and Angela’s excellent cooking.

Oliver showed us around and to see the horses, mainly Hungarian warmbloods, bays and one grey. He also has sheep, chickens and a wonderful woolly pig with a snout like a wild boar which one of our party named Apple Sauce. The pig is a Mangalitza, a curly coated breed found mainly in Austria and Hungary, as it is capable of surviving the harsh winters. Some have been imported into the UK on rare breed farms. She was due to have piglets in the summer. Some cats and kittens lolled around in the sunshine and there were two dogs. One, a border collie, came out with us on our rides and, incredibly kept up with us even when we rode really fast, She was very adept at avoiding flying hooves.

The weather was glorious during our week long stay: very warm and sunny and after our afternoon rides we could sit by the natural swimming pool. The first morning the horses were tacked up for us, as indeed they were every morning, and we were able to choose the type of saddle we would be most comfortable with. Oliver and Janu the Hungarian groom both looked very fetching in their white shirts and long culottes. Apple Sauce was running about chasing the horses and, thinking she was a horse and not a pig, tried to follow us out on the ride.

The first day we returned to the farm for lunch but on subsequent days we had lunch out. One day we had lunch by a lake where a local man had set up a table and chairs and was cooking a fish soup in a cauldron over an open fire. Another day we had cold cherry soup (delicious) and chopped chicken and potatoes, another day a wild boar stew and on the last day’s ride Janu cooked another stew as always in a huge cauldron over an open fire. On this last day it was very hot and we had a lovely two-hour ride to a lake where deck chairs had been set up for us and we changed into shorts and sandals and spent a relaxing two hours and an enjoyable lunch.

Dinners were also in various locations: at the farm twice indoors, once outside in the gazebo, once in the cellar and twice in restaurants nearby. One evening at the farm a musician appeared playing a zither and we all joined in the dancing. Another evening a local masseuse gave us a back massage. Certainly invigorating.

The horses were a joy to ride, well schooled, forward going but stoppable. The riding was in the area of the Puszta, the Great Hungarian Plain and therefore all flat with long wide sandy trails, open farmland, cool woods, no traffic and plenty of opportunities for some fast canters and gallops. There had been a lot of rain prior to our arrival at the beginning of June and this had brought out the wild flowers. Poppies, vetch, blue and yellow campanula, white and pink campion, wild scabious and lots of others whose names I didn’t know. Really beautiful. I have never seen such a variety and it was magic to ride through the meadows with the colours and smell of this carpet of flowers.

One afternoon after the ride we went to the local spa. A huge place with lots of different pools outside with various waterfalls and pressure spouts. Very relaxing. Oliver met us afterwards and took us to a local restaurant for dinner. He was a knowledgeable and caring host and on the horses’ day off accompanied us to the nearby town of Szeged, near the Romanian and Serbian borders. He showed us around the town, took us for coffee, cakes and ice creams. Szeged is an attractive town with neo classical buildings built after a devastating flood in 1869. We left one of our group (only three of us…) at the John Bull pub, football was on television (!!) and the other two went for an afternoon in the local spa; all indoors this time and not as nice as the previous one. We then met Oliver for a delicious dinner accompanied by local musicians.

I loved the riding here. But it is very fast and not for novice riders. In The Saddle grade their rides like ski runs, blue, red or black and this was definitely a black ride. Having said that, Oliver was very heedful of our ability and when one of our group had a knee problem she was able to walk with Janu the groom whilst the others cantered or galloped with Oliver. He was constantly looking back to see that we were capable and enjoying the ride. I would rate him the best guide in all the 15 rides I have done with In The Saddle.

In fact it was such an enjoyable stay I went back again in October! Different weather (a bit of rain) and the scenery had changed: trees were losing their leaves, but there was more wild life, deer were leaping out of our way as we rode across the fields and through the woods. Apple Sauce now had two companions but she didn’t have any piglets and had proved barren so was destined for the table….

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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