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The Hortobagy Stud of the Town of Debrecen has the longest past among Hungarian historical studs. The first written documentation about it was dated in 1671. Its operation and history is unique in Hungary and extensively different than the military purpose studs established by Kaiser's orders (Mezohegyes, Bábolna etc) and the private studs linked to lords' estates.
The horse stock on the Hortobágy was always owned by the civil community of the neighbouring villages and towns. The Stud of the Free Royal Town of Debrecen has always excelled from these community studs and its stock influenced the horse breeding of the whole country. Under these special circumstances it took a long time to form a breeding center that would make it similar to other historical studs. In spite of its 300 years history Máta became Stud Center only in the 1880's, and then served as the seat of the Máta Commissioner and of the Debrecen's Civil Farming Community. The dominant buildings of the present stud center were built in the 1940's in the style of Debrecen's buildings.
After several owners The Stud is now owned by the Hortobágy National Park and operated by the Hortobagyi Kht. The traditions that made the horse breeding of the Hortobágy world famous have always been an integrated part of the life of the Hortobágy National Park. Grazing animals are essential to maintain the steppe habitat and landscape, and the roles of the traditional animal breeds are newly appreciated. Their preservation became an important present-day task due to their values disappeared from the modern breeds.
The Máta Stud with its 250 horses is now Hungary's most significant horse breeding center. The main purpose of The Stud is to preserve the Nonius breed and to raise a Hungarian Sport Horse breed that is able to fulfill the sport and hobby requirements.
The Stud in the heart of the National Park is revered for several reasons:
The area is the largest and most genuinely preserved part of the Hungarian Puszta. The Hortobágy and The Stud are one in the same, because The Stud is the symbol of the Puszta.
The first and largest national park of Hungary is the Hortobágy National Park, that was declared to be part of the World Heritage due to its natural and cultural values by the UNESCO in 1999.
As the turistical center of the National Park, Máta forms the opinion of the visitors about the Park and the Hungarian Puszta.
The Máta Stud -as a horse breeding center- is not only engaged to fulfill breeding tasks on high standards but also combines the requirements of a world heritage with the professional and popular elements of Hungarian horse riding sport. Apart from the very popular Hortobagy Equestrian Days, Máta gives place to numerous professional programs such as Indoor Pair and Four-in-Hand Championship, Show Jumping Winter Cup, Indoor Championship of Amateur Horsedrivers, Horse Breeding Judgement of the Hungarian Sport Horse Breeders Association and of the Nonius Breeders Association.
The forefather of the breed, a stallion called Nonius born in the Rosieres Stud in France, was captured in the Napoleon Wars by the Austrian Kaiser's Army. The young Anglo-Norman stallion that was "without special beauty in its looks", and did not resemble the breed later named after him, arrived to Mezohegyes in 1816. During his mating years until 1832, he fathered offsprings with the Arabian-impressed Spanish-Napolitano mares resulting in excellent features in the horses. His 15 stud sire sons mated alltogether 100 mating seasons in Mezohegyes. As a result of the strong inbreeding among his offsprings, the consolidated type of the breed developed soon and suited the requirements of a semi-heavy army saddle and cart horse. Due to this inbreeding, however, the defects of the breed appeared in its rugged and rough looks. That was corrected with Arabian and Thoroughbred crossing.
After the Austro-Hungarian Conciliation (1867) the Mezohegyes Stud and thus the Nonius breed had its golden age under the directorate of Ferenc Kozma. This is proved by a range of Exhibition Awards. The "Ideal Horse" (the Gold Medal) title in the Millennial Paris World Exhibition was the first international recognition of the breed. The genealogical line founder sires - Nonius XXIX /A/, Nonius XXXI /B/, Nonius XXXVI /C/ and Nonius XLII /D/, that were defined as such in 1943 - mated in the 1880's and their offsprings determined the breed characteristics through several generations.
Following World War II, the army use of the Nonius practically ended and the breed became popular mainly as the workhorse of the Great Plain in Hungary. Sport purpose crossing attempts were made in the 1970's but it did not gain wide acclaim. The Nonius Breeders Association was founded in 1989, and then the purebred breeding and gene preservation became the dominant breeding purpose again.
The breed concerning its origin is a heavy English half-blood, one of the heaviest warmblood cart horses. Two main types developed: the larger and usually black Mezohegyes type and the smaller, wirier and usually bay-coloured Hortobágy type. The main characteristic of the breed is the heavy half-convex or convex head, that is proportional to its body size.
Its neck is high arched, medium long, wither is medium high, back is well muscled and rotund, groin is medium long, wide and well muscled. Its rump is large, slightly aslope, chest is wide and less deep. Due to its cart type the breast is wide and very well muscled, the joints are large and the legs are dry (well visible tendons). Its wither height is 155-165 centimeters when measured with a stick, 167-180 centimeters with string, chest girth is 180-210 centimeters and cannon bone circumference is 22-24 centimeters.
The breed has supreme working spirit, calm temperament, and is capable of lasting performance. It can be well used both as draught-horse and horsedriving sport. Its role in the future is defined by its special image, outstanding characteristics, typical outlook and constant pedigree. According to these characteristics the breed represents significant value as a gene reserve.
The two traditional studs of the breed, Mezohegyes (40 mares) and Hortobágy (60 mares), are still dominant. The public stock is considerable only around Mezohegyes and Makó and in Hajdú-Bihar County.
The total stock of the breed today consists of 450 mares and 80 stallions in the main register. There are small-sized, pure-blood Hungarian origin stocks in Romania and Serbia-Montenegro.
Hungarian Sport Horse
The structural change of the Hungarian agriculture at the end of the 1950's, the collectivization, the cease of small-sized rustic farms and the efforts to decrease the use of draught animals led to a significant surplus of horses and thus a new type of use - the sport and hobby utilization. This aim was to be reached through crossing traditional Hungarian horse breeds with Western European sport breeds, that was successfully conducted with Holsteiners and then with almost all sport breeds.
The beginning of sport horse breeding in Hortobágy are also dated back to this time. Due to the modernization efforts of Nonius breeding, a stock of horses was formed, that had been tested in sport but were not ranged into the Nonius stock. Their excellent qualities reasoned their further sport purpose breeding.
The connection with the Holsteiner Verband (Holstein Horse Breeders Association) opened the way to join the system of international sport horse breeding. The high quality was ensured by the rented sires from the frontline of Holstein breeding. Larinero, Lucky Lionell, Calgary, Campione, Romino, Cassini II., Leonid, Coriander and Alcatraz crosses are often found in the pedigrees of the world's leading sport horses, thus we can guarantee the breeding value of the sport stock of the Hortobágy Stud.
The desired type of the Hungarian Sport Horse is characterized by its size. The head is well-proportioned to the body, the forehead and the scrag is wide, the neck is long and medium or high arched, withers are long and medium high, back is well muscled and medium long, groin is short and strong, rump is large. Breast is wide and deep, joints are large, leg conformation is sound. Its wither height is 165-170 centimeters when measured with a stick, 177-183 centimeters with string, cannon bone circumference is 21.5-23 centimeters. The breed supporter Hungarian Sport Horse Breeders Association records 1700 mares of which 20 mares belong to the Hortobágy Stud's five mother lines.
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