One might believe it’s just a joke when you hear that you can ride horses for a week in Transylvania as the guest of a count. In Romania, you can ride horses, stay in the count's castle and in the private Transylvanian retreat of King Charles the third during this trail riding holiday.
This is a guest post, all about riding horses on a stunning trail riding holiday in Romania.
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The count’s estate lies nestled in Transylvania’s historical landscape of endless rolling hills adorned by wild flower meadows, forests and tiny villages, set against the backdrop of the Carpathian mountain range. This may well be one of Europe’s last horse riding heavens! One of the most important aspects of an enjoyable trail ride is which horse is being allocated to which rider. The estate has over 30 horses the countess chooses from to match the experience and characters of every rider and horse at their arrival. The horse breeds range from sure-footed local ponies to Shagya Arabian, Gidrán and Lipizzaners to Akhal Tekes.
The concept of the treks on horseback is to introduce the guests right into the heart of the local culture of Transylvania – where horses have kept their original role. The trail ride is led through unmarked terrain, over hills and through forests, connecting one small village to another by unnoticeable tracks used by horses and carts. Up to 8 riders are led by 2 local guides. The small groups of riders (often made up of a number of people who have booked separately) make for friendly and interesting trail riding, and is also perfect for solo travellers. Private horse riding holidays for closed groups of up to 12 horse riders who know each-other are also often run. The full trail ride takes 5 days in the saddle, a shorter 3-day version and day-rides are also possible.
To participate in these horse riding holidays you should have a reasonable amount of previous riding experience. The terrain is varied and you will cover about 120 kilometers during the course of the week. You should be comfortable and secure in the saddle at a walk, trot and canter, and used to riding in open country and over different types of terrain. The horses are sensible and well-mannered to ride, so they are well suited to riders of intermediate riding ability and above. You should also be reasonably fit for horse riding to take part and I recommend you ride regularly at home before the trip so that you get used to the hours you will spend in the saddle. Riders of up to 90 kg body weight are accepted.
I can only describe the rides as a Tolstoy-esque experience, being accommodated in Count Kálnoky's Castle at Miklósvár and at King Charles the third's private retreat of which the count is in charge. Guests of this horse riding holiday are also fond of getting an insight into the reality of the region by staying two nights in villager's homes during the 5-days of riding. Dinners are served together as table d’hôte at the accommodations. Wood-fired saltwater hot tubs are awaiting the riders on two locations in the evenings for long relaxing baths.
Transylvania’ forests are home to the last large bear population in Europe. While it is not very likely that you will encounter bears during the trail ride as they are mainly active at dusk and dawn, there is an option to go out for bear watching in the forest in the evening!
In 2023, many rides will be guided by the Kálnoky family's eldest son, 28-year-old certified riding guide count Mátyas Kálnoky, who is eager to show you the marvels of the wonderful region he has grown up in and calls his home. The rides are unforgettable experiences for all fans of trail rides in pristine cultural landscapes largely void of fences or roads and who wish to discover this enchanting place, its culture and people before it changes all too much. Please visit the Kálnoky's Riding website here, or visit their Facebook page for more info!
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