The Zustrenes equestrian centre at Inčukalns opened its doors to both professionals and amateurs in 2007. This unique centre with its School of Junior Riders is situated in the most picturesque part of Latvia (the easternmost country of the European Union), and is unmatched in the Baltics.
The Zustrenes facilities were built under strict supervision by leading European experts in horseback riding: Peter Van Santvoort and double Olympic champion Piet Raijmaikers.
The equestrian complex satisfies every international standard: from the grains of sand covering the arena to the quality of its stable hay – this meticulous attitude has earned it membership in the British Horse Society under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth herself.
Historically, horseback riding has been an attribute of monarchy. Although Latvia has no king or queen, this aristocratic hobby pastime is quickly gaining momentum thanks to the School of Junior Riders, and is becoming popular among residents and visitors to Latvia alike.
Loving and caring for horses are the core criteria for judging everything at Zustrenes: from its attentive personnel to the optimal depth and quality of the horse pond on the premises.
The 70 hectares of rural landscape have two arenas with carefully chosen surfaces of quartz sand supported using a special textile in a “pie” 1.5 metres thick. This kind of surface is excellent for absorbing the force of hooves during movement and prevents slippage – because a horse’s “brutish” toes are actually one of its most sensitive organs of perception.
The facilities at Zustrenes also include a covered area for winter-time horseback competitions, and a spacious redwood-clad stable that has everything one might need to care for the animals, including two specialised sun booths.
The centre is home to more than 15 thoroughbred horses and ponies.
School staff have reared many of these animals and can select the ideal steed for anyone, considering the physical attributes of the human and the horse, the animal’s temperament, and the rider’s skill. A horse cannot be tamed by force, only with one’s heart and mind.
In his ancient works, Hippocrates recommended spending as much time as possible in the company of these graceful beasts for the betterment of one’s health and general sense of well-being, as they have a remarkable effect on the person and multiply favourable emotions.
Welcome to Zustrenes – a magical place for people familiar with the world of equestrian sports and for anyone taking their first steps towards horseback riding. Horses are a lifelong love that ushers each person into a unique and wonderful world.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT HORSES
The most expensive horse in the world is Shareef Dancer – an English thoroughbred stallion – bought by an Arab sheikh for 40 million dollars.
The fastest horse in the world is Winning Brew, a filly thoroughbred that reached a speed of 70.35 km/h on a quarter-mile (402 m) distance.
The world’s largest horse, a stallion named Sampson, weighs in at 1520 kilograms.
The maximum amount in prize money is awarded at the equestrian festival in Aachen, Germany – 1.3 million euros.
The record high jump by a horse, at 247 cm, was set in 1949 and has stood since.
“We want people in Latvia to learn at long last about these strong, fine and majestic animals. To learn about them and to love them. We want people in Latvia to learn at long last about the achievements of our riders and horsemen in all disciplines. To learn about them, treat them with respect and support them. We want children and young people to go riding more, so that they can take part in competitions and strive for higher achievements in the sport. We want young riders to grow up and not to disappear so that they have the desire and the opportunity to continue what they have started. Our goal is to become one of the leading equestrian centres in the Baltic states, at which competitions at different levels are held. We consider that belief, determination and hard work will lead to the achievement of that goal!”