Hungary is an ideal destination for horse-lovers and there aren't many countries that offer such a wide range of opportunities. You can find horse farms all across the country, offering fine horses, accommodation and riding courses all at once. Hungarians take riding seriously, quality is strictly measured here: the quality of services is monitored and the horse farms rated by the Hungarian HorseTourism Association, rewarding the best with symbolic horseshoes. Horse riding vacations are for everyone of a normal fitness level, whether beginner or pro. New to horse riding? Start out on a lunge line to learn the basic position, balance and control on a moving horse. When you're comfortable with the basics, riding classes in the enclosed riding arena will bring you closer to gaining control over your horse. If you're already fit and able to trot, canter and gallop at ease, you can head out onto the guided tours – a dream come true for every rider. Akadémia Riding School is the best place to let your little ones fall in love with horses – kids can start to learn riding here at the tender age of two. At the picturesque Hilltop Farm in Gödöllö cute ponies await the smallest child.(www.hilltopfarm.hu).
Already a pro and looking to try out something new? Well, try your hand at western riding, dressage or show-jumping. If you want to ride like a true cowboy, head to the Nagy Lovasudvar in Zsámbék (it's not far from Budapest) and learn the tricks of the Western-style. At the Lóháton Budakeszin Horse Club you can try show-jumping and even polo (www.lohatonbudakeszin.hu). For a complete list of horse farms offering training, tours and camps, go to www.lovasok.hu.
Even if you're too scared to jump into the saddle, a horse-holiday can offer a lot of fun. Many horse farms offer spectacular horse shows, bringing alive the horsemanship of the Magyars. The Great Plain has particularly strong traditions when it comes to breathtaking stunts, so head to the area around Hortobágy and Kiskunság and see what the Hungarian wranglers (called csikós) have up their sleeves – applaud them when they complete the so-called Puszta-five, riding five horses at once while standing on their bare backs. You don't necessarily have to travel hundreds of kilometres to witness some horse-back action, though. Just 35 km out of Budapest in the neighbourhood of the Castle of Gödöllő the Lázár-brothers - Hungary's coach-driving world champions - have established their own piece of paradise combining romantic rural atmosphere with the offer of a professional horse base (www.lazarlovaspark.hu). A couple of years ago a truly spectacular horse show has been established in the heart of the Budapest as well – the National Gallop turns the Heroes' Square into a race track of 6200 metres for horses and riders from all over the country to show off their skills (www.vagta.hu). This year it's going to take place on September 14-16th. Equally popular is the riding show and international hussar-meetup of Ópusztaszer usually organised in May, the Nyeregszemle, bringing alive centuries-old horse-riding traditions.
For maximum speed, head to Budapest's horse racing venue, the Kincsem Park. But who is Kincsem? Well, the 84-hectare park was named after a legendary race horse who won every single race she took part in. Actually, Hungary has a great number of fine race horses – the result of centuries of meticulous horse breeding. Head to the Museum of Agriculture to find out more. Horse racing was introduced in Hungary by Count István Széchenyi and gained popularity very quickly. Today, the Kincsem Park is the number one address to see horses at speed with various races over all kinds of distances. Don't miss this activity on December 31st which is a local tradition.