Nomadic animal husbandry is in decline in the Hortobagy area, but some ancient Hungarian domestic aminals, such as the mangalica pig, the grey cattle or the racka sheep are kept here, for gene preservation and also as tourist attractions.
On the picture there is a mangalica sow and her piglets :-).
The neoclassical Nine Span Bridge is the most famous man-made landmark in the Hortobagy (it does have nine spans, just three are missing from my photo). It was built between 1827-1833. It's the longest stone highway bridge in Hungary (about 167 meters) and crosses the river Hortobagy.
If you want to know the Puszta you should stay at family Hajdu's home. The next day Mr Hajdu will get you in his horse carriage into the Puszta itself to meet that wonderful habitat and the animals that are part of it: the curious furred pigs, traditional grey cows, bulls and a great variety of birds and other wild animals - horses, deers and hares. In this ride you'll be able to meet people, the shepherds that also belong to this ancient landscape, as well as their dogs. His carriage will drive you through hard tracks that Mr Hajdu knows well, but it is a worthy experience for those who love nature, even if your bones resent it the next morning.
Mr Hajdu is a real expert and he'll centainly be happy to introduce you to the history of this lands with a detailed explanation. He's a fine communicator - but only in French, "malheureusement". We had to use the French we learned at school a long time ago but we were able to communicate.
Mr Hajdu shows a uncommon smile in this country.
People usually visit Hortobagy to see the Hungarian Horsemen and the Great plain but Hortobagy is more than that. There's a wild bird Hospital where they cure injured birds and try to set them back to nature and it all happens right in front of your eyes. From the surgery room to the first flights.
There's also an Archeopark which shows how people of the Puszta lived and shows the ancient hungarian animal breeds. There's the famous 9 hole bridge...a stonebridge which is unique in it's own ways. The sheperd's museum shows how sheperds, horsemen lived and live today. The area of Hortobagy is the part of the Hortobagy National park with a really rich widelife.
The Racka is a unique and very cute-looking ancient Hungarian breed. Both the ewes and the rams have long corkscrew-shaped horns. The Racka sheep are used for milk, wool and meat production. In Hungary, the most typical Racka colours are white and black, but brown ones also exist.
The Racka is a hardy animal, so it could survive for centuries on the dry, open plains of the Hortobagy. Today several thousand of Racka live in the Hortobagy, also serving as a gene bank for this unique breed.
For Hortobagy visitors, seeing a horse riding show is usually a must: the Hungarian cowboys - called the "Csiko's" (pronounced approximately as Tshikoush) - demonstrate some of the traditional equestrian exercises such as making the horse sit and lay down(this was a very useful skill when the cowboy and the horse had to hide for some reason).
On the photo you can see the Hungarian "Puszta-fiver" or "Koch-fiver": standing on a horse in the back, the rider is driving five horses at the same time. The idea originally came from a 18th century painting by the German Ludwig Koch, who probably just imagined this scene. But since the middle of the 19th century, it has slowly become a Hungarian traditions: riders wanting to demonstrate their skills tried to copy the fiver from the painting (later they also managed with 8, and even 10 horses), and today it's a "compulsory" element of any Hungarian horse show.
The Hortobagy is still grazed by herds of the huge, long-horned Hungarian grey cattle, descendants of the hardy cattle driven here by the original Hungarian horsemen more than a thousand years ago.
Grey cattle husbandry has been a traditional activity for hundreds of years: in the middle ages, grey cattle "export" provided a significant source of income for the country. Tens of thousands of animals were herded and sold to Germany, Italy, even France every year.
The Hortobagy provides optimal conditions for the grey cattle. Actually, intensive grazing has proved to be crucial for the survival of the plains ecosystem.
Visit the Herdsmen's Museum. You'll see typical clothing, pottery and also this model of a herdsman's hut.