The Long Riders' Guild

Sandor Bakor and Peter Csepin

Sandor Bako (left) and Peter Csepin (right) two Hungarians who call themselves “Hussars”, were arrested and their horses impounded by Swedish authorities in 2012 after the animals were found to have been injured during a journey towards the Arctic Circle.

They were stopped by police in Amal, Sweden and arrested on charges of animal cruelty.  The men were released after spending two days in jail.

But their four horses were impounded by Swedish authorities.

A veterinarian check ordered by the Swedish government revealed that the animals were exhausted, emaciated, poorly shod and had various injuries and saddle sores on their bodies.

In addition to suffering injuries to his tendons, the pack horse had large open saddle sores on his back and sides. Another horse was lame.

Medical authorities estimated that the horses needed total rest for at least a month, and suggested they be put out to pasture for a longer period if possible. Soon after the Hungarians were arrested the Swedish government provided the Guild with the police report, medical documents and photographs of the horses’ saddle sores (right).

In an attempt to deflect blame, soon after Csepin was released from jail he told the Hungarian press that he was the victim of Swedish prejudice. Csepin’s defence was that the Swedes didn’t recognise the type of smaller horses used in previous centuries.

Talking about the size of the horses was a disingenuous distraction. Csepin wasn’t arrested because he was riding a small horse or because it represented an equine ideal from the 1500s. He was arrested because the horses had been neglected, underfed and cruelly abused.

After allowing the horses to rest and recover for more than month, in mid July the Swedish Länsstyrelsen (government agricultural authorities) decided that the horses could be returned to Csepin, their registered owner, under certain strict conditions.

The horses were only released provided that Csepin and Bako promised to transport the animals back to Hungary via a trailer. The government authorities also stipulated that the horses were not to be ridden or used as pack animals for a minimum of eight weeks.

In order to regain custody of the horses the two Hungarian agreed to these terms. They trailered the horses across the border to Helsinki, Finland – then immediately broke their word to the Swedish government by saddling the horses and defiantly resuming the journey.

In a statement to the public, Csepin wrote that he had regained control of the horses, “after 35 days of waiting for nothing.” He soon bragged on his website that he and Bako were riding south towards Hungary “at an average of 50-70 kilometres a day.”

When it became known that the Hungarians had broken their word, European horse owners joined the Guild in appealing to the veterinarian authorities at the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.

The EU’s Directorate of International Veterinary Affairs stated the organization could do nothing official to stop the Hungarian horse-abusers because cases of equine abuse were regulated at national level. Thus there was no law designed to protect travelling horses from this type of intentional abuse across international borders.

By exploiting this legal loophole, Csepin and Bako rode the horses back to Hungary where they were lauded as national heroes by some members of the local press.

Yet Gábor Kemény, publisher of the Hungarian magazine Jövőnk soon revealed that Csepin had severely injured or killed four horses during previous journeys to Turkey, Kazakhstan and Europe.

The journalist, who rebuked the Hungarian Ministry of Defence for providing financial support to Csepin, issued this stern condemnation of the disgraced rider.

“Peter Csepin donned the clothes of a Hussar but never learned the most important historical lesson of Hungary’s great horsemen; the horse was the Hussar’s friend and not merely a means to try and become famous.”

The reporter concluded by stating that because of Csepin’s “massive ego, bad attitude, arrogant style and rude behaviour” a journey which “could have been a success became a great shame that humiliated Hungary.”

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