Besides inspiring a wealth of fascinating books, films and stories, their mutual relations also constitute one of the many elements which, put together, ascribe to the uniqueness of this form of leisure. According to the enthusiasts of horseback riding, their hobby is not mere recreation – it's far more emotional. One could list various ways to become involved, but a novice rider will usually start from a short walk, with the horse on a lunge. This first contact with a horse is often an impulse to embark on an “equestrian adventure” which eventually leads to long-distance field trips. The horse’s trust and engagement in partner relations can be earned not only while in the saddle, but also through the daily care, tending to, cleaning, and feeding of the animal. Frequently part of equestrian tourist packages, these activities make stays at a stud farm stand out above other types of countryside leisure. Worth keeping in mind is that every horse is a living, intelligent creature which has feelings and appropriately responds to the surrounding conditions. Hence, our equestrian successes largely depend on the care we bestow on the horse.
A chance to be into direct contact with nature is the strongest point of horsemanship, offered through the extension of equestrian packages by “green ecology” programmes. Also interesting is the combination of field trips with learning about the ecosystem - the flora and fauna of a given region. Tourists can diversify countryside leisure by adding some farming activities to their horse trips or by learning professions on the verge of extinction. Hence, the final tourist product becomes more attractive and competitive on the market.
Horses available to tourists in the Carpathians
In the stud farms of Małopolska, besides the Małopolski Anglo-Arabian half-bred horses and the American Western-like quarters, the Hucul breed prevails.
These horses are widely acclaimed as companions in extended horseback hikes. The breed, which originated in Eastern Carpathia and Bukovina, took its name from an ethnic group of Ruthenian highlanders – the Hutsuls. These animals prove invaluable in mountain conditions and for centuries have been used for travelling and the transport of 150-kg loads across mountain trails. They will settle for any food and are immune to diseases and tough weather conditions.
The Huculs emerged through the crossing of Tarpans with Mongolian horses, further refined by the blood of Turkish and Arabian steeds. Of short height but exquisite strength, they are very agile and deft in the open field, while cautious and not timid, and also exhibit the rare habit of checking objects such as footbridges before stepping on them.
Even-tempered, friendly and calm, the Huculs are well suited to becoming an attractive addition to every tourist package. They will introduce beginners to the very basics of equestrianism, while allowing those more advanced to explore every nook and cranny of the trail. A Hucul can also be hitched up to a chaise, a trapper cart, or – in winter – a sleigh.
This breed is best suited to rehabilitation and prophylaxis purposes. Their placid nature, patience and prudence aid therapeutic techniques aimed at treating psychophysical disorders in children and adults.
The forms of equestrian tourism
Organised forms of equestrian tourism mainly include excursions, summer camps, package tours and weekends “in the saddle”, the several-day “Hubertus” events, and wagon trips for riders' escorts. They are delivered by State Stallion Studs, small and large stud farms, and private horse-riding clubs. Both organisations and associations, as well as companies specialising in equestrian tourism, offer a wealth of attractions: mountain excursions for novice and advanced riders, from one-day trips to two-week thematic hikes and rides. And those preferring leisure off the saddle may set off on an excursion on a horse-drawn cart.
If you wish to travel long distances and spare your legs while enjoying a direct contact with pristine nature and exploring tourist attractions, horse trips are the way to go. Bear in mind, however, that this mode of travelling – in the saddle – requires preparation and good shape. An excellent pastime, but also a challenge which will test the rider's skills and endurance, both physical and mental. After an exhausting day-long trip, our four-legged companion needs tending to. This includes finding a suitable place for the night, taking night watches, supplying fresh water and fodder, cleaning and controlling the horse’s general state of health. No wonder, then, the deepest bonds between the man and the animal develop during horse trips.
PTTK Equestrian Trails
Marked horseback-riding trails, backed up by additional facilities, not only make excursions easier, but create secure and rational equestrian tourism. The Management Board of PTTK (the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society) set up a network of affiliated horse-riding centres, and in 1996 established the Equestrian Tourism Commission, which marked out tourist trails across Poland. In its basic form, this type of tourism entails excursions and camping trips held regardless of the distance, the lie of the land and season.
As you can read on the PTTK website, “…a trip in the saddle denotes one of the greatest adventures a horse enthusiast can ever experience. Discovering one's own, repressed, instincts and relishing true freedom. Intense contact with the animal within natural surroundings, the broadening of equestrian limits, a rest from the regular training and related pressures – all these guarantee complete and fascinating relaxation. But you have to stand up to nature and your own weaknesses, quickly plan every move, be imaginative, handle the horse skilfully, and cooperate with others in unusual conditions…" Those horseback champions who successfully reach the finish lines of these beautiful, but demanding trails, PTTK honours with a special distinction and membership cards. You will earn the “ PTTK Beskids Equestrian Trail” badge, once you explore, at any time and taking any directions, all sections of this charming route.
The Małopolska Equestrian Trails
The PTTK Cross-Beskids Equestrian Trail
The whole of the Beskids are simply made for equestrian tourism. With this in mind, PTTK, aiding riders who wish to pit themselves against this range’s longest, 400-km route, has set up the Cross-Beskids Equestrian Trail – from Brenna in the Silesian Beskids to Wołosate located in the Bieszczady National Park, on the mountains’ margins. The route is one of the longest and most difficult of its type in Poland, running across the Żywiec Beskids, the Podhale, the Pieniny mountains, the Beskid Sądecki Mountains, the Lower Beskids, and up to the Bieszczady mountains… It takes 14 days in the saddle to cover the whole distance. By no means easy as a whole, the route includes some really demanding sections and features typically mountainous, stony and hard ground. All in all, it presents a true challenge to horsemanship enthusiasts, requiring careful preparations and testing the endurance of both the rider and his/her mount. Naturally, after the mountain fashion, the length of each stage is measured and provided in the number of hours a walking horse has to cover.
The Małopolska part of the trail starts at the 3rd stage – Korbielów-Zawoja – which takes 8 hours to cover.
From the centre of Korbielów, via Szczawiny and the Glinne pass (809 m above sea level), climb Jaworzyna (1047 m a.s.l.), the Głuchaczki pass (830 m a.s.l.) and, along the state border, reach the Klekociny pass (864 m a.s.l.) from which go down to the next EMTC “Dyzma” Centre in Zawoja.
Stage 4 Zawoja – Zubrzyca Górna. Length 5 hours
The next day, across the Krowiarki pass (1012 m a.s.l.), we leave the Żywiec Beskids and enter the Orava region, from where a 2-hour trip will lead us to Zubrzyca Górna and the Agritourism farm of Joanna Omylak.
Stage 5 Zubrzyca – Bukowina Tatrzańska. Length 12 hours
Further on, the Podhale awaits. One of the two longest, though easy, stretches, running along the vast and gorgeous Nowotarska Valley. Stopping off in Orawka, Ludźmierz and Szaflary, we get to Bogdan Pietrzyk's EMTC in Bukowina Tatrzańska.
Stage 6 Bukowina Tatrzańska – Jaworki. Length 13 hours.
Another, this time the longest, stretch is ahead of us. More demanding, but offering breathtaking views, as we move along the foot of the Tatra and the Pieniny mountains – the Polish part of Spiš. From Bukowina Tatrzańska to Brzeg and Jurgów, crossing the Białka, a beautiful mountain river. Then off to Niedzica, to ascend Pieskowy Wierch (983 m a.s.l.) and Krzyżowa (767 m a.s.l.) peaks. Having passed the Czorsztyn Reservoir and crossing the Dunajec, we arrive in the Pieniny National Park, to cover the next four kilometres on the side of an asphalt road, all the way to Krościenko. From this point, through Szczawnica, we head off for the Small Pieniny and the Sądecki Beskids borderland, where the village of Jaworki hosts the “Rajd” EMTC Stud Farm.
Stage 7 Jaworki – Uhryń. Length 10 hours
From Jaworki across the Obidza pass (931 m a.s.l.) and the Sucha Dolina Valley down to Piwniczna. Next, we climb Jarzębiaki (715 m a.s.l.), to the Pisana (1043 m a.s.l.) and Łabowska Pastures (1064 m a.s.l.), and down to Józek Górski’s “Leśniczówka” EMTC in Uhryń.
Stage 8 Uhryń – Hańczowa. Length 6 hours
Upon leaving Uhryń, we also leave the Beskid Sądecki – a few kilometres further the Lower Beskids await. Gentle hills and picturesque valleys lead us across the Cygańskie Pola pass (717 m a.s.l.) to Berest. Stopping off in Czyrna, Banica and Ropki, we finish this stage in the “Połonina” EMTC in Hańczowa.
Stage 9 Hańczowa – Kotań. Length 8 hours
Heading off from Hańczowa and crossing Kiczerka (625 m a.s.l.) to Skirtne, we continue through Regietów, Zdynia, Radocyna, Nieznajowa and Rostaje, to arrive in the “Rumak” EMTC Stud Farm in Kotań.
THE PTTK LOCAL EQUESTRIAN TRAILS
The Tadeusz Trzeszczoń Equestrian Trail is a daylong route for advanced riders, covering the main peaks of the Radziejowej Range.
Tadeusz Trzeszczoń (1969-2005) – a 2nd-Grade Guide in PTTK Mountain Equestrian Tourism. Meritorious in promoting the idea of Equestrian Mountain Tourism (GTJ), especially among young people. Had tutored many GTJ Guides of the 1st and 2nd Grades. The co-creator of the PTTK Cross-Beskids Equestrian Trail. Posthumously awarded with the title of Honorary Guide of PTTK Equestrian Mountain Tourism. A great person and friend to people and animals.
The first stage runs from Jaworki to Obidza, where a short grazing break is advised, and then across the Wielki Rogacz peak up to the Złomisty Wierch. The riders will be accompanied here by the stunning sceneries of the Tatra, the Pieniny, and the Sądecka Valley. Behind the Złomisty Wierch, the trail leads to the Przehyba Pasture (1173 m a.s.l.) - here, riders and their horses should rest and have something to eat and drink.
Then they can head back, crossing over the Pieniążna, the Kiczora, and the Stary Wierch peaks, the village of Szlachtowa, and down to Jaworki.
The Starosądecki Horseback Trail in the area of Stary Sącz – Gaboń – Przehyby
The trail presents the natural and sightseeing hallmarks of this land, with routes for equestrian tourism marked out within the Stary Sącz - Gaboń – Przyhyba region. The Sądecki Beskids can easily be classified among the most picturesque and naturally-diverse regions in Poland. The view stretching from the trail over the neighbouring ranges – the Gorce, the Pieniny, the Tatra, the Island Beskids and the Lower Beskids – makes outings even more enjoyable. Landscape enthusiasts will be especially enchanted by the “Queen of the Beskids” – the Babia Góra – visible from afar if the sky is clear. The Sądecki Beskids features two mountain ranges the Radziejowa (1262 m a.s.l.) and the Jaworzyna Krynicka (1114 m a.s.l.).
Local tourist attractions include the Convent of the Order of St. Clare in Stary Sącz, something unique in Europe, the urban architectural complex in this town, and the Papal altar standing in the grassland of Stary Sącz. A remnant of the 1999 visit by Pope John Paul II, it is now protected as a cultural and urban artefact.
The diverse Stary Sącz trail features a variety of itineraries - from gentle, valley routes to steep, mountain paths.
1. The outskirts and the Dunajec and Poprad Valleys, with good opportunities for nature observations. Former gravel pits, oxbows and ponds resting within patches of riverine forests constitute a singular habitat for many, easily-observed, animal species.
2. A hilly agricultural region, where the trail spans across roads, new and old households, roadside shrines and churches – especially worth seeing are the wooden, larch churches in Moszczenica Niżna and Gołkowice Górne. Here, as well as observing some interesting specimens of mountain flora, tourists can encounter the local birds of prey. They can also try their hand at farm chores such as animal grazing, swath harvesting, hay drying and others.
3. Mountain terrains dominated by wild nature and forested areas. The alpine plant cover, the upper and lower complexes of the subalpine forest with fir habitats, the rocky formations and the mountain streams, lend a unique character to this route. The local tourist attractions for everyone’s admiration include the legally-protected boulder “Kinga’s Chair”, the Rocky Wall in Skałka (the Gaboń forest district), and the so-called “Wietrzne Dziury” (Wind Holes) - a resource of fissures and outcrops in the Przysietnica forest district.
The "Karpackie Podkowy” (Carpathian Horseshoes) Horseback Trail of the "Beskid Zielony" Local Tourist Organisation
The trail marked out under the “Karpackie Podkowy” project by "Beskid Zielony", a Local Tourist Organisation from Gorlice, under the honorary patronage of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society (PTTK) in cooperation with the project partner – the “Gładyszów” Hucul Stud Farm in Regietów – and 22 equestrian tourism centres, including seven from Małopolska (and 15 from the Podkarpackie Voivodeship), as listed below
The trail runs around stud farms participating in the project:
The “LaMa” Farm in Tylicz;
The “Połonina” Stud Farm in Hańczowa;
The “Osława" Stud Farm in Wysowa;
The “Jaworzynka” Stud Farm in Regietów;
The “Gładyszów” Hucul Stud Farm in Regietów;
The “Stara Cegielnia” Stud Farm in Gładyszów;
The “Jasionka” Stud Farm in Jasionka;
The “Ogrodziska” Stud Farm in Męcina Wielka;
In Małopolska, the project is also participated in by:
The “ASTIR” Agricultural Farm – the Hucul and Arabian Horses Stud Farm in Izby near Krynica; the “Ropki” Stud Farm in Ropki;
SGTK Horseback Trails in Muszyna
The Kazimierz Boroń PhD Eng. Trail from Muszyna to Izby
The Equestrian Mountain Tourism Association (SGTK) in Muszyna marked out this trail, naming it after its first Chairman and a keen horse enthusiast. Boroń actively engaged in the activities of the PTTK Equestrian Section, and helped in establishing and running the Association. "The SGTK has designed eight mountain trails for equestrian tourism, with a total length of 72 kilometres. We meet once a month, usually at stud farms. Besides serving as therapy for autistic children, horseback rides are very popular among tourists who venture out to explore the beautiful Sądecki land”, says Juliusz Jarończyk, SGTK member.
EQUESTRIAN TOURISM TRAILS, Muszyna Złockie
Trail No. 1 - Majdan – Dubne – Leluchów – Muszyna Majdan
Start of the trail: the Majdan forester’s lodge. Use the marked forest road along the Zimne stream. Continue along the bed of the left tributary to the Zimne stream. Turn right to a marked forest road, continuing up to the Dubne peak. Take the blue trail to the left until it joins the yellow trail. In parallel to the yellow trail to the marked forest road running along the state border, to the village of Dubne. Next, take the hard-paved road via Leluchów heading to Majdan. The last stretch of the trail covers an old road along rail track and via Żabnik. Trail length 20.5 km, including 11.5 km of marked routes, Elevation difference 300 m.
Trail No. 2 Muszyna Majdan – Dubne – Powroźnik
Start of the trail: the Majdan forester’s lodge. Use the marked forest road along the Zimne stream. Continue along the bed of the left tributary to the Zimne stream. Turn right to a marked forest road, continuing up to the Dubne peak. Take the blue trail to the left until it joins the yellow trail. Next, use the marked forest road along the Młynne stream to Powroźnik. After crossing an asphalt road and the Muszynka creek, turn left into the farm owned by Ms Krówczyńska. Trail length 10.5 km, including 6 km of marked routes. Elevation difference 300 m.
Trail No. 3 Dubne – Rusinów – Malnik – Dubne – Powroźnik
Start of the trail: the farm of Mr & Ms Krówczyński. Take the dirt road marked upstream on the Muszynka creek to the mouth of the Młynne stream. After crossing the Muszynka and an asphalt road make your way across a hard-paved dirt, road marked along the right tributary of the Młynne stream, and then across the stream bed up to the yellow and blue trails. Take turn left to the yellow and blue trails, continuing to a crossroads with a marked forest road, and to the right, upwards of Zdziary. Next, across a marked forest road to the village of Miczuły, turning to the marked dirt road there to get to the Muszyna-Rusinów village. From Rusinów, take the marked dirt road to Stadło (near a TV transmitter), and then to Malnik using another marked dirt road. From Malnik, take a marked forest road leading to the yellow and blue trails. Along these trails, towards Dubne until they connect with the orange, equestrian trail. Trails No. 2 and 3 can be used as a way back. Trail length 18 km, including 10 km of marked routes. Elevation difference 338 m.
Trail No. 4 Powroźnik
Start of the trail: the farm of Mr & Ms Krówczyński. Take the marked dirt road and head upstream on the Muszynka creek, behind the fresh-water intake. By a deer stand, the trail turns left into a marked forest road (a very steep stretch). At the crossroads, turn right and head down the stream-bed road. Next, take the skidding-path and continue to a forest road. Along its marked section, turn left to enter the blue trail which will lead you back to Krówczyński’s farm. Trail length 9 km, including 9 km of marked routes. Elevation difference 270 m.
Trail No. 5 Wojkowa - Powroźnik
Start of the trail: the farm of Mr & Ms Krówczyński. Take the marked dirt road and head upstream the Muszynka creek, behind the fresh water intake. By deer stand, turn right and ford the creek. Along the Muszynka head towards the mouth the Pusta stream. Take the marked forest road along the Pusta creek, and turn right to another forest road running to the Wojkowa village. From Wojkowa, a marked dirt road will lead you to the yellow trail. Having crossed the trail, via the marked dirt road, turn left to Krówczyński's farm. Trail length 16 km, including 10 km of marked routes. Elevation difference 300 m.
As one of the services offered by agritourism farms, equestrian tourism has recently gained substantial popularity. Every day, more and more Polish farms enrich their packages with the "horseback adventure”, to be embarked on within terrains which abound in attractions, but are inaccessible by car. The flourishing agritourism sector offers horseback and chaise trips, and, if local conditions allow, something more than a paddock ride, farm owners add more advanced forms of the equine sport. They also come up with ever-new ideas for active leisure in the saddle, adjusted to variously-skilled tourists, including whole families or corporate employees who can follow special, incentive-packed programmes.
Hippotherapy, aiding in the treatment of disorders such as autism or cerebral palsy, is another service frequently seen in stud farms. The horse can also play the role of a “trainer” in coaching or personal-development programmes.
The more-demanding tourists usually search for customised and all-round solutions. As it happens, a family goes on horseback holidays, parents hope for a little rest from the daily routine, and children get excited about the prospect of adventures and exploration. A good solution is to then enrol them for riding lessons, while offering parents a trip out in the fields. The kids will be under the care of a trusted instructor and the adults can try out some equestrianism-related activities – cattle driving, Western-style presentations, natural methods of horse handling, tasting local cuisine, extreme sports, and sightseeing. Clients will receive all types of accommodation – from Spartan conditions to perfectly comfortable lodgings.
VENUES AFFILIATED UNDER THE PTTK GTJ IN MAŁOPOLSKA
Affiliation guarantees a high quality of services provided in these venues.
The Orawa & Podhale Regions
The Agritourism Farm of Joanna and Stanisław Omylak
34-484 Zubrzyca Grn. 58, tel. (18) 2852828, 606635645
The "Dworna" Stud Farm, Jan Bobek
34-471 Ludźmierz Rogoźnik 86, tel. (18) 26 552 47, 609 820 347
The Equestrian Tourism Centre, Bogdan Pietrzyk
34-530 Bukowina Tatrzańska, 17 Słoneczna St., tel. (18) 2077290
for information on camps and other services, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Maków Beskids
The “HUCUŁ” Horse Riding School, Renata & Kazimierz Gurbisz
32-400 Myślenice, 8a Szkolna St., tel. 601 082 359
The “Rancho Ostoja” EMTC, Lanckorona, Lucyna & Marek Krzemień
31-143 Lanckorona, 75 Legionistów St., tel. (33) 876 35 29, 605 681 575, 605 891 347
The “BÓR” Horse Riding and Hippotherapy Centre, Dariusz Waligórski
Toporzysko 454, 34-240 Jordanów, tel. (18) 287 38 32, 604 690 489
The “DRWALÓWKA” Agritourism Farm, Waldemar Borowski
Grzechynia 64, 34-220 Maków Podhalański, tel. (33) 8747059, 604 112509
The Pieniny Mountains
The “Rajd” Stud Farm Ltd.
34-460 Szczawnica, Jaworki 17b, tel. 607 478 850
Mount - Tour Zygmunt Białek
34-460 Szczawnica, 11 Główna St., tel. (18) 262 19 00, 502 018 262
The Bukowinki Stud Farm, Joanna Sarata & Andrzej Dulak
43-460 Jaworki, 30 Pod Homolami St., tel. 663 825 058
The Beskid Sądecki Mountains
The "MOS" EMTC, Józef MOS
33-343 Rytro, 6 Roztoka Ryterska St., tel. 604 833 752
Agritourism Farm (Forester’s Lodge), Jan Górski
33-336 Łabowa Uhryń, tel. (18) 471 12 15
The “AGRO-TUR-KONIE” Agritourism Farm
33-388 Gołkowice Dolne, Gaboń 131, tel. (18) 446 35 82, 509 847 463
The Lower Beskids
The "Kowboj" Agritourism EMTC
38-315 Uście Gorlickie, Nowica 52, tel. (18) 351 63 40, 503033202
The "POŁONINA" ETC, Ewa & Stanisław Tyka
38-316 Wysowa Hańczowa 60, tel. (18) 353 21 44
More info on the Internet