Saturday, 27 June 2009

Horse-drawn in the Tatras

Living around Warsaw, one gets the idea that Polish agriculture is modernising at rocket-speed. Cows have ear-tags, EU-subsidised farmers are finding new sophisticated markets, innovation is visible in every supermarket (just check out the varieties of home-grown tomato on offer, not to mention fresh corriander!). But here in southern Małopolska, one realises that the horse is still an essential part of farm life.

Loading the mown hay onto the cart, harnessing the horse and trotting off from the pasture to the barn, as it's been done since man domesticated the horse and invented the wheel. Pneumatic tyres and modern clothing the only visible signs of the 20th Century

The horse-drawn cart is still a very real alternative to the car or the bus for a journey into town. Forget about timetables and money for petrol. The horse is fuelled by home-grown hay and oats. On Sundays, families in their folk finery will make their way to church pulled along by the horse.

Overtaking a horse-drawn cart on a series of twisting hairpins requires steady nerves, good judgment and luck!

And its not just a Polish thing - across the border into Slovakia we encountered this vehicle labouring up the hill towards. These Slovaks have at their disposal double the horse-power of their Polish counterparts!

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