So here we are back at the Lázár Equestrian Park. For background, see my previous post, Hungarian Horse Show.
I left out the ox wagon. Oxen aren't anything like as beautiful (or fast) as horses. But I don't think I've ever seen longhorns of this magnitude harnessed to a wagon before:
After the oxen and the "post rider" with his five horses, we had a display of basic dressage moves. The horse is a Lippizaner, ridden by a woman riding sidesaddle. I believe in this photo the horse is doing a piaffe or standing trot.
And I'd like to take a moment here to rebut all the snide remarks that were written during the Olympics about Ann Romney's horse and "dancing horses." Modern Olympic dressage is comparatively quite limited (you try it sometime!), but it's based on a larger and older craft. The dressage performed at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, which we visited (they were off for the summer but we saw the stables), is the haute école, which was developed in the 15th century as training for war horses. The "airs above the ground" (some described in Mary Stewart's classic detective story of the same name) were fighting maneuvers intended to help the horse and rider to survive on a 15th century battlefield. They are extremely demanding, which is why the Riding School only works with stallions. Trained war horses were also extremely expensive animals because of all the training; I believe they told us in Vienna that it takes 6 years to train a Lipizzan stallion to perform. So in that sense dressage has always been a rich man's game.
We don't have battlefields like that any more; but we don't denigrate the craft of watchmaking today just because most of our watches are quartz. I base this post on the Wikipedia article, Classical Dressage, which I recommend to the interested.
After the dressage performance, they brought the horses up to the rail so we could pet them and get acquainted. All the animals were extremely well trained and well behaved. The announcer then led us all over to another field and piled us into horse-drawn wagons for a ride around the property:
After the ride, we visited the farmyard where we met some more of the Welsh ponies:
Finally, we got a tour of the carriage house and stables. They have both Lipizzaners and the big dark horses ridden and driven by the cowboys. The announcer said the dark horses were a Hungarian breed, which I didn't catch. A little Googling suggests they may be Hungarian Warmbloods, but I can't be sure. The trouble with taking photos of horses inside a stable is that you often get the wrong end of the horse. Here are the closed stalls:
And here is one of their Lipizzan stallions, his name is Favory:
It was a fabulous afternoon, I wouldn't have missed it for the world, and I hope you enjoy all the photos I didn't have room to put in these two posts.