The horses and Magyar cowboys at the Hungarian horse show on a ranch near Kalocsa, Hungary are a highlight of a Danube River cruise in eastern Europe. The Puszta or Great Hungarian Plain is covered with large ranches, and Magyar cowboys demonstrate their equestrian skills in the show. UNESCO declared part of the Puszta, the Hortobágy National Park, a World Heritage Site in 1999.
The Magyar cowboys take their name from the region of the same name, and the Hungarian people are often called Magyar. The Magyars originated as tribes who lived in the Tarim Basin of what is now China. They first emigrated to the Ural Mountains of Russia, which were once considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia. The semi-nomadic Magyar tribes eventually settled in what is now Hungary about 895 A.D.
River ships dock in Kalocsa, which is called the "paprika capital of the world", and it's only a short ride to the Puszta ranch. Although paprika originated in Mexico, today it is most associated with Hungary. The spice is made from dried chile peppers that are ground before adding to food. In addition to its distinctive flavor, paprika also adds color to food. Can you imagine a deviled egg, potato salad, or Hungarian goulash without paprika sprinkled on top?
The entertainment at the Magyar cowboy horse show starts with a horse parade, followed by all sorts of exercises that were once practiced for wartime, but today are just for show. For example, the riders taught their horses to sit or lie down to provide a smaller target during a battle or protection for the rider.
A boy on a small burro provides a comical contrast to the magnificent steeds. The climax of the show is a complicated twist to the Hungarian five-horse racing, more commonly known as the "Puszta-fiver." This cowboy used nine horses rather than five!
In addition to the show, guests enjoy tasting the paprika bread and apricot brandy, and a ride around the ranch in a gypsy wagon completes the day on the prairie land of Hungary called the Puszta. The Hungarian ranch also has cattle and many baby horses that were just adorable. Texans would definitely call the cattle in this photo longhorns. You wouldn't want to make them mad!
Equestrian Show in the Puszta of Hungary
These cowboys could really crack their whips! River cruise ship passengers at the show also have an opportunity to crack the whip but found out it was a lot more difficult than it looks.
Magyar Cowboy and Horse at Puszta Horse Show
It's hard enough to teach a dog to sit. Teaching a horse to sit must be very difficult. This skill and lying down are both important for horses during battle. If they sit or lie down, they will be a smaller target and can protect their rider.
Magyar Cowboy and His Horse at Hungarian Horse Show
This cowboy was able to get his horse to kneel and then lie down.
Magyar Cowboys and Their Horses
Lying down on command was important for horses during battles. Today, it's just for show; but it is still very impressive.
Horses Doing Maneuvers at Hungarian Equestrian Center
These old buggies are going much faster than it looks like they would.
Horse-Drawn Carriage at Equestrian Center Near Kalocsa, Hungary
If you look beyond the carriage, you can see why this part of Hungary is considered the prairie.
Country Wagon With Three Horses at Puszta Equestrian Center
This wagon could be loaded with many pounds of goods since three horses were pulling it.
Magyar Cowboy on Team of Nine Horses
Just standing on a bareback horse takes talent; the skill and training involved to stay up with nine of them is very impressive!
Boy and Burro at Hungarian Horse Show
This small boy and his burro provide a comical contrast to the elegant Magyar cowboys and their magnificent horses.
Gypsy Wagon at Puszta Ranch
At the conclusion of the horse show, all the river cruise ship guests enjoy a ride around the ranch in this traditional gypsy wagon. It is a great way to see more of the ranch on the puszta.