TEAMSTERS were once a common sight in Slova-kia, with draught hor-ses used widely in agriculture, transport and early industry. Nowadays, they are a rarity, but some Slovaks are preserving the skills of their ancestors.

In Kováčová, teamsters competed in four disciplines in late May, one of which involved navigating an obstacle course, and another had them loading logs onto a metre-long carriage, racing down the track, and then unloading them, all timed for speed.

“This discipline is also fun for audiences,” organiser Jozef Puškár told the TASR newswire. “We have two tracks and two pairs of teamsters, and we let four volunteers from among the visitors … [participate],” he added. “They only loaded the wood and travelled in the carriage that was driven by the teamsters.” After the main competition, there was another contest: which horse could pull the heaviest load.

“This was about choosing a single horse, and for the viewers to see how tireless the horses are: after a whole day, they could still pull a heavy block,” Puškár explained. “We organised this competition in Kováčová for the 13th time. The Association of Teamsters of Slovakia organises more than 10 of them each year, across the whole country. To stay attractive for audiences, we have to change things, add new disciplines and also modify the traditional ones. The rate of visitors proves we have succeeded in this,” he concluded.

The winner of the 13th Day of a Horse in Kováčová was Pavol Kitaš from Golianovo. He prepares his horses for the competition by letting the two competing horses relax more and using four other horses for heavy work.

“It is a great feeling to win,” Puškár concluded.