Horseback riding is one of the oldest, carefully cultivated traditions in Poland. It is worth looking at this phenomenon.
This process of erudition can begin during the most important and most prestigious European auction of Arab blood stock horses in Janow Podlaski, where among the bidders amongst many other wealthy celebrities, Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones drummer, is regularly present. It is in Janów, where the famous bay El Paso stallion, one of the most expensive horses in history was sold for around one million dollars.
Poland is famous not only for its pure blood Arabs horses. Hucul horses from Gladyszow, though inconspicuous, are very patient, gentle and brave. They are the cousins of the Polish ponies which can be seen in the Roztocze National Park and in the research station in Popielno in Mazury. Huculs are great therapists and they don’t have any problems climbing the gentle hills of Lower Beskid.
Several day long meetings in a saddle are organised by many stud farms in Poland where there is an opportunity not only to commune with nature and the landscape but to approach wild animals. Horse scent does not frighten off the deer or roe-deer. Dozens of horse breeding farms in Poland teach the western type of horse riding which is much better and more comfortable for long distances.
Advanced riders can conquer Poland on their own, using the growing network of horseback trails on the Baltic coast (Białogora), the forests of Wielkopolska (Wilczy Szlak) and in the Warmian hills (the region of Kierzbun). The 400 km long horse trail in Sudety zigzags between Lądek Zdrój and Karpacz and the summit of Snieznik can almost be reached by horse!
A trip like this to the countryside is an opportunity to experience one more pleasure connected with horses – a night sledging cavalcade lit by torches, with blankets on your laps and a thermos full of tea with alcohol. During the Highland carnival in Bukowina Tatrzanska, kumoterki races (small sledges once used to carry children to baptism) are a great attraction.
Horse-back riding has long traditions in Poland. There are a large number of clubs and horse-riding centers, of which about 400 are members of the Polish Riding Association (Warsaw, 29 Lektykarska St., tel. +48 22 639 32 40). Also many agro-tourist farms offer horse-back riding. Here they organize recreational horse-back riding tours and horse-riding holidays and camps. In summer you can take a carriage and in winter – a sleigh.
Amateurs of sightseeing from the saddle will also find something to their likening. Many centers organize one- and several days’ horse rallies on especially marked trails. The longest and most beautiful are those in mountainous regions: the Trans-Beskid Horse Trail and the Trans-Jurassic Horse Trail (600 and 250 km). Practicing horse riding in Poland can be combined easily with sightseeing architectural historic sites. Many horse riding centers and studs are located in the vicinity or directly on the properties of beautiful historical manors and palaces, for example, Chlewiska (the 400-year old Palace of the Odrowąż family), Walewice (the 18th century Palace of Maria Walewska) and Kurozwęki.
The studs known worldwide for their purebreds are especially note-worthy: Janów Podlaski (Arab thoroughbreds), Kętrzyn (heavy horses), Gładyszów (hucul), Książ near Wałbrzych, Bogusławice, Czerniejew, Kozienice, Racot, Łąck and Sieraków.
In Poland there are also numerous rehabilitation centers for disabled children with Cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome. Many of these centers are members of the Polish Hippotherapy Association (Warsaw, 100 Nowoursynowska St., tel. +48 22 593 19 00).