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Before There Were Cowboys, There Were Csikós

Before cowboys roamed the American West, there were Hungary’s Csikós. And on the Puszta—the country’s great plain—these traditional horsemen carry on their legacy. For centuries, whip-cracking horsemen in Hungary have been caring for their horses and cattle while practicing death-defying riding.

image/text credit: Great Big Story 

The riders live in relative isolation in ranches that dot the plains. Although only a few Csikós are left in the region, Adam Bordás and his father János are keeping this proud tradition alive.

The csikós are the mounted horse-herdsmen of Hungary. The csikós tradition is closely associated with the Hungarian puszta, in recent times particularly in the environs of Debrecen and Hortobágy National Park.Horses were trained to lie flat in the grass to make them “disappear” in exposed country while riders’ saddles were designed for quick getaways.


Stock herders and csikos horsemen — Hungary’s answer to cowboys — oversee breeds of curly-haired pig and scimitar-horned cattle.The most spectacular of these “Wild East” cowboys skills is more modern and involves standing on the backs of two galloping horses while controlling another three thundering along in front.