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Draught horses compete in Cerov

TEAMSTERS and their draught horses have been an important part of Slovak history and even though they have mostly been pushed aside by motorised vehicles, they are not totally forgotten as horse-drawn wagons are still needed in poor terrain. In addition, there are multiple competitions staged across Slovakia to test the skills of the horses and their handlers.

Ján Francisty Jr and his team of horses took home the top prize.(Source: TASR)

TEAMSTERS and their draught horses have been an important part of Slovak history and even though they have mostly been pushed aside by motorised vehicles, they are not totally forgotten as horse-drawn wagons are still needed in poor terrain. In addition, there are multiple competitions staged across Slovakia to test the skills of the horses and their handlers.

Jozef Puškár, the head of the Association of Teamsters of Slovakia told the TASR newswire that 28 competitions were planned for Slovakia in 2011. “Owners of draught horses can choose from various contests so that they can collect a maximum of points within our association’s league and then participate in the Slovak Championship,” he said. “Competitions with horses are a show of an ancient craft that has not disappeared and is a tourism offer. Our members help attract visitors and spark life into villages and towns throughout Slovakia at weekends.”

A competition to find the strongest horse team was organised in August in the village of Cerov for the first time by the local civic association. The event had three disciplines: first, teams with a full wagon zigzagged through a slalom track; the second event required completing a marked track carrying huge logs; and the third, the culmination of the competition, sought to find the strongest team of horses. In that event two horses covered a track of 50 metres and their load was increased after each race with heavier logs. The winning team was chosen based on the heaviest load and the shortest time.

“We agreed with competitors that we did not want to abuse the animals, just to show their real power. Therefore, the time limit for the last discipline was two minutes and the drivers were not allowed to hit the horses,” said Ján Francisty, one of the organisers.

Ján Francisty Jr, from Krupina, was named the overall winner at the first year of the Cerov competition and another horse he owns, Tango, was chosen as the most beautiful horse. The oldest human participant in Cerov was Ján Sláva from Hrochoť. More than 2,000 visitors watched the competition.

“That was not bad; we are satisfied with the course of the competition but there is still something left to improve in the coming years,” said Miriam Hamuliaková, the head organiser.


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