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I visited El Bronco in Hungary in September 2018. I was fortunate in being able to get a direct flight from East Midlands to Budapest and was then collected from the airport; the transfer from the airport to the ranch taking around 2 hours. You can read my blog here.
I have had quite a bit of experience in western riding, both in the USA and in Germany and I was very impressed at what I found at El Bronco. There are 50 horses with about 25 suitable for guests; mainly quarter horses, paint horses and appaloosas. The horses were very well behaved and well trained. The owners and many of the instructors have competed in western riding sports such as reining, roping and other western disciplines and there are some experienced schoolmasters no longer competing. If you are familiar with Western riding they can really give you the feel of stops and spins. There are no ponies and so children do need to be comfortable on the smaller quarter horses, which are about 15hh.
Everyone starts off in the arena and then you head out on the trail in the adjacent Kiskunsagi National Park. These are mostly morning and afternoon two hour rides but if you stay for a week, then you would usually have one day ride with a picnic. Obviously there is some duplication of trails and I did start to recognise some of the places. But the horses and the riding is great fun, so that didn’t really matter.
The ranch does have a fairly set format of two hours riding in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. They don’t flex this and it isn’t possible to have more riding. Of course you can opt to miss one of the rides.
The guides are good fun and safety conscious – I met almost all during my stay – Bernie, Camilla, Zsofia, Robert and Robbie.
The guests are normally split into two groups according to their riding ability. After your first assessment lesson, further lessons may be possible (and might be necessary if the weather isn’t suitable for riding out on the trail) but everyone in the group has to agree on what they want to do. Each week a certain number of beginner riders can be accepted and I saw some people really grow in confidence.
When I was there the guides put on a display of western and Hungarian riding and some of us got to have a go at the different activities such as trying out a spin on quarter horse, having a go at lassoing and cracking a Hungarian whip but unfortunately at the moment they don’t guarantee this to happen every week. Overall I found the ranch to be more focused on trail riding rather than lessons.
The ranch has 12 bedrooms spread over 3 buildings. All have en-suite bathrooms with either a shower or bath. The rooms are comfortable and have air conditioning. It’s not a hotel and so don’t expect your room to be cleaned each day, but if your room needs cleaning then you only have to ask (but there are racks to leave your boots on outside your bedroom door so no reason really for your room to get too dirty).
There is no-one to host guests in the evening and so after dinner you do need to be comfortable reading or chatting with new friends. The bar is available on an honesty bar system.
There is no choice in the food which some people might not like, but all was tasty and I didn’t go hungry. There is always salad available.
The spa complete with hot tub, saunas and massage room is great to relax in. I had a massage and would really recommend it.
I was lucky enough to be able to experience most of the non riding activities such as wine tasting, a visit to the cheese factory, a carriage ride, off-road jeep safari, boat trip on the lake in the national park. Unfortunately these activities cannot be guaranteed to be available every week. If there is something you would really want to do, then it’s best to request it prior to your holiday or at the very latest when you arrive so that it can hopefully be scheduled. They are all at an extra cost (payable locally).
Overall, I can really understand why so many people fall in love with El Bronco and go back year after year. It’s a very relaxing place and the horses are beautifully trained making the riding a real pleasure.