Celebrating 'the Horse' at Budapest’s renewed Exhibition Center 'Hungexpo'

Hungarians are traditionally horse-riding people, conquerers and nomads of the great Asian plains. To honor such glorious past, a large-scale horse exhibition and conference was held recently, convening Europe's greatest 'equestrian nations' to meet in the heart of the Old Continent. Held in the refurbished 'HUNGEXPO Budapest Fair Center', 'Equifest - Horse Festivity' was a combination of two projects, according to Klara Tihanyi, manager of the exhibition. "We've been looking for an opportunity to spread the word on the horse riding tradition of Hungary," she told Diplomacy and Trade. "And to celebrate the launch of our new pavilion 'G' at the Fair Center", she explained, adding that while the festivity celebrated past traditions, the future of horse riding looks bright in Hungary. "Attendance was huge, with up to 15,000 visitors." The first day of the fair invited 'professionals' to join business programs and conferences discussing issues of horse tourism, breeding, medicine and training.

French Connection

"The 'professional day' provided opportunity to exchange experience, and discuss business relations between Hungary and France," Tihanyi said, revealing the special guest of the festival, 'Cadre Noir de Saumur', the French National Equestrian School. The following two days of the exhibition were open to the public, when French and Hungarian villages could present their products and services, including horse riding schools, hotels, farms and riding equipment. "Among those invited were representatives of the accalimed French UNIC national stud farms," Tihanyi said. "We are also very proud of our national schools, studs, breeding farms and estates in Hungary, which are internationally competitive."

Cadre Noir

Equifest also hosted Hungarian 'hussars', a type of light cavalry created in Hungary in the 15th century and used throughout Europe and even in America since the 18th century. The hussars displayed their skills in horse acrobatics and stuntman performances. "We were lucky to involve Hungarian actor Sandor Sasvari to be the 'face' of the event, performing his very own equestrian show," Tihanyi said. Another Equifest sensation was the gala performance of Cadre Noir de Saumur their latest premier show. "The team is considered a national treasure in France, and is based in the city of Saumur in the western part of the country, where it was established soon after the Naploeon-era in 1815," the manager pointed out. The organization originally served military aims, she adds, of establishing an elite horse-back unit for the army. The phrase 'Cadre Noir' comes from their black uniforms. "This was the first time Cadre Noir de Saumur visited Hungary, and we're privileged to have been chosen to make their debut at HUNGEXPO," she said. "The Cadre Noir de Saumur performance brought 'haute ecole,' or French classical riding to life, and was accompanied by symphonic orchestra music." Their show drew 10,000 visitors. Cadre Noir de Saumur is part of UNESCO world heritage for its accomplishments and preserving national traditions. Concerning Equifest, Tihanyi said the number of visitors reflects increasing interest towards horse-festivals both from professionals and the public. "Our aim is to evolve into an annual festival," she said.

Réka Alíz Francisck

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