TEAMSTERS or draymen were (often) men who drove wagons or carriages first pulled by oxen, and later by horses, to transport goods and sometimes people along ancient trading routes. They were the predecessors of today’s truck drivers. The workhorses that pulled these carriages were always far different from full-blooded racehorses, and on January 8 their descendants tested their skills and strength along with their masters at the annual Turčianska Podkova / Turiec Horseshoe competition held in the village of Turčianske Kľačany.
Twenty-three men and their horses competed in skills like timber-pulling where, in addition to requiring strength, the competition called for good communication between the horses and their masters. The second discipline also involved handling wood and the third involved “heavy pulling” Lenka Mahútová, the founder of the competition and a teamster herself, told the TASR newswire. Mahútová explained why this year’s competition involved only men, saying “one regular contestant is having a baby, another is pregnant and me, as the main organiser, I had no time. So I just made an exhibition show for the audience”. She added that she plans to compete against men later this year as she has bought a new harness for her mare Nirvana and has already had it engraved.
Drayman Ľubomír Chromec and his horse Maťo are regular participants in the competition and Chromec said he and his horse did not mind the warmer than usual weather. “If everything is frozen, things go more easily. When it is thawing, the snow sticks to the horse’s shoes. But in the pulling, it does not make such a big difference. The main thing is good cooperation. When the owner gives time and energy, his horse obeys his every word. He does not even need to scold. If there is contact on a daily basis, the horse will listen and obey,” Chromec said.
Chromec views these competitions as get-togethers between old friends. “To show off our animals we try to decorate them as much as possible so that other people can see as well that our horses do not only stand somewhere in a stable. We want to show them off to the public,” Chromec said proudly.
24. Jan 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská