Horseback Riding in Veliko Tarnovo
27.07.2012 § 3 Comments
There are many places in Bulgaria where you might be offered to ride a horse, often for lots of money, near the seaside, by somewhat unsavoury-looking characters. Those horses are also likely not very well treated, and spend most of their days being dragged around in the heat along the beaches of the Black Sea.
However, there is at least one stable in the country that offers horseback riding as an experience, at reasonable rates, and couples it with a thorough introduction to the stable’s 50-some horses and a tour of their living environment.
On a scorching July afternoon, I had the chance to visit the Kaloyan-92 horse club in the village of Arbanassi, some 10 km outside Veliko Tarnovo. Horseback riding is an ancient Bulgarian pursuit and my cousin P. was very excited to give it a go. A dozen or so club members were busy cleaning the change rooms rather than braving the afternoon heat riding. We spoke to the young woman in charge, Simona, about a 45-minute trial lesson and she gave us a guide: a girl named Preslava, who would be entering the equestrian program at the local sports high school in September.
Preslava took us around the stables, showing us most of the school’s fifty or so horses, foals and ponies. Some she knew by name, some she didn’t, and some were too young to have been named yet. She told us that their stable supplies horses for theatrical productions and films, and that many of their members regularly compete in and win equestrian meets.
A few of the stable’s horses had been left to graze and ride freely on its impressively large, well-developed grounds. Equipped with obstacle courses, horse-taming rings and numerous paddocks, corals and cages, the stable was impressive in size, but even more so in the competence and care its members (none of whom were over 25 when we went) exhibited towards its horses.
P. had a great lesson, which turned out to be free, like all lessons the club offers to children under 18. The cost for a 45-minute lesson for adults, we were told, would be 20 Leva, for Bulgarians or foreigners. The stable also offers free lessons for area schoolchildren, hoping to foster an understanding and a love for horses among Veliko Tarnovo’s youth.
The school’s English-language site is still under construction, but you can reach Simona at + 359 887 707 074. As far as we checked, she only speaks Bulgarian, but I’m certain a hostel’s receptionist or hotel’s concierge would be glad to make arrangements for you in Bulgarian, as it’s always better to call ahead.