Count Kálnoky’s Estate offers one-week trail rides for groups of up to eight. Often made up of a number of people who have booked separately, the small groups make for friendly and interesting riding, allowing the guide to provide individual attention to each rider. Larger groups are possible when booked as private tours.
Each week of a ride includes five days of trail riding, with between four and six hours in the saddle per day, broken up with rest stops and a break for lunch. A circuit course is covered, with guests staying in local guesthouses for several nights along the way. All guest baggage is transferred to the nightly accommodation by the Estate’s staff. The rides offer a varied pace, taking guests through forests, across pastures, and up the hills. The scenery is beautiful and diverse, the area largely untouched by tourism. The hilly terrain sometimes limits the speed of the ride, but there are opportunities for trots and canters each day where the terrain permits.
The Horses The horses used for these rides are locally bred ponies characteristic of the area along with Arab and Lipizzaner crosses. Their breeding includes Huzul, a historic and robust breed unique to the Carpathian mountains, Semigreu (a Lipizzaner-Ardennes cross) and some locally bred Lipizzaners and Arabs. They range from around 14.2hh to 16.2hh. They are keen and spirited, adaptable and well suited to the going, which can get rough and is steep in places. They are also of calm temperament and sensible to handle. English general purpose saddles are used and saddle bags are provided. The horses are ridden in snaffle bits.
Riding The 6 night trip includes 5 full days riding and there is generally between 3 and 6 hours in the saddle, with breaks to rest and for lunch. When moving accommodation at night on the circuit outings, luggage is transported for you by back up vehicle. Rides are lead by two guides, one English speaking, and groups are usually limited to a maximum of 8 riding guests.
Pace The rides are at a moderate pace overall, with routes taking you through forest and up and down mountain tracks. There are lots of opportunities for trots and canters each day as much of the riding is across open grassland. There is a little road work each day (some on tar roads) in the vicinity of the villages you pass through, but roads are generally very quiet with little motorised traffic.
Riding Experience To participate in these rides you should have a reasonable amount of previous riding experience. The terrain is varied and you cover about 150km during the course of the week. The minimum requirement is that you are comfortable and secure in the saddle at a walk, trot and canter and are used to riding in open country and over different types of terrain. The horses used are sensible and well mannered to ride so they are well suited to people of intermediate riding ability and above. You should also be reasonably riding fit to take part and we recommend you ride regularly at home before you go to accustom yourself to the hours you will spend in the saddle.
Terrain The area you ride through is very unspoilt and little touched by tourism. Some of the riding is through forest and up and down mountains and there are one or two places where riders might need to dismount to walk over rough ground, depending on conditions - a good chance to stretch your legs! However overall the area is excellent for riding, with plenty of space, wonderful open mountain pastures full of wild flowers in the spring, varied scenery and many
wonderful views. There is also much to see of cultural interest with many local people living in conditions that have changed little for hundreds of years and with horses still widely used for ploughing fields and pulling carts.
Accommodation Accommodation on the ride is quite varied and you will experience life as the locals live in the village. Rural guesthouses in villages are roughly equivalent to British 'B&Bs' and you are staying with a family. They are simple but clean and well maintained, with inside plumbing, bathrooms and loos, hot water and central heating. Bathrooms are often shared and may be along a corridor or through the kitchen. Most bathrooms have showers rather than tubs but are clean with plenty of hot water. The last two nights are spent at Miklósvár in houses which your host has re-built with great care and attention to detail. Each room is different with lovely antique furniture and woodburning stoves, typical of the region, which are lit in the winter. Rooms are twin bedded and if you would like a single room then this is possible although cannot be guaranteed.
Meals Food in rural Romania is generally organic and full of flavour and you will have the chance to sample some traditional dishes although the choice can be limited by what vegetables, etc are in season. Breakfast is eaten at your guesthouse or inn and is typically a selection of eggs, cheese or cold meats, bread or toast and butter and jam, with perhaps a choice of tea or coffee to drink milk (which is often straight from the cow!). Tea (chai) in Romania is not often the black, PG Tips style - but more commonly green or herbal - so you may want to take your own tea bags. Lunch is generally a very simple picnic out riding - ham or cheese sandwiches with fruit for pudding. Dinner, which is eaten at your guesthouse or hotel, is often soup (a strong point of Romanian cooking!), then a main course which will sometimes include a regional speciality such as wild boar or venison stew, peppers stuffed with meat or vegetables, different types of sausage, seasoned minced-meat wrapped in cabbage or vine leaves or perhaps spicy meatballs, followed by a cold pudding or fruit. Food is locally grown and fresh, however usually only one menu is prepared at the guesthouses and there is limited choice. Vegetarians can of course be catered for, but please let us know in advance. Dinner includes mineral water, tea or coffee and usually half a bottle of wine or a bottle of beer per person. Drinks at bars are not included. Mineral water is carried in saddle bags while riding and for lunch (soft drinks and alcohol are not usually available). You will also be offered 'Köményes' the local caraway seed brandy quite regularly - be warned that it can be very strong! (It is perfectly acceptable to decline!)
Weather Most rides are run from set dates between April and October when the weather in the area is best. In spring and early summer the ground is scattered with wild flowers; in August and September the hay fields are harvested and the countryside is busy with horse drawn carts; later in September and in October the forests are full of colour with the changing leaves. Average daytime temperatures between April and October are roughly as follows - April 11°C; May 16°C; June 19°C; July 21°C; August 21°C; September 18°C; October 13°C - though it may be about 5 degrees hotter at midday and about 5 degrees colder at nightfall. Rain is possible at any time so you need to be prepared for this.
In cooperation with:
For Great Britain:
Unicorn Trails Ltd www.unicorntrails.com
André ROUDOULEUSSE Guide de Tourisme Equestre www.1voyageacheval.com
For Switzerland & Germany:
For North America: