Sleigh rides in the Village of Light

Sometimes, the people and horses of Pärnu County become the people and horses of Tartu. Jaanus Kallaste and his colleagues (and horses) have spent Christmas in Tartu with their families for years. The people of Tartu respond in kind and talk about how sleigh rides in Town Hall Square have become part of the Christmas traditions of the families of Tartu. An old lady once aptly told Jaanus that if in the olden days the grandchildren went to their grandmother’s house in the countryside for sleigh rides, now the opposite is true – the grandmother comes to the city to have a nice ride with her grandchildren in Town Hall Square.

The most beautiful time of the year is here once again and during the upcoming holidays, the sleighs will have the heavy artillery of the Tori species, specifically Ortensia and Poltergeist, at the front. Horses for traversal in cities are like needles in a haystack in Estonia. As such, Jaanus has trained all of his horses himself – the work of strangers cannot be trusted in the mission to Tartu. The best animal for riding around in a city is calm, energetic and elegant and wants to carry people. This is where Tori horse genes prove useful.

The horses coming to visit Tartu for the holidays are very different in nature. Poltergeist is a loyal and faithful but stubborn friend who often prefers human company to animal company and has inherited an excellent will to carry people from his ancestors. He’s a very empathic animal and the easiest to communicate with. Ortensia is a 13-year-old mare who has raised her last foals and ridden herself back into shape. By the way, her ancestors are all owners of high jump records and absolute champions of transport competitions. As a rule, she is not afraid of anything, except for toy guns that sound like whips, fireworks and the colourful skirts of Romani dancers. Ortensia doesn’t particularly like being spoiled; she prefers specificity and demands sufficient attention. Of course, the final word on what sufficient attention looks like hers to give.

Riding around in the city takes skill and experience – only a few select horses can be entrusted with this task. Ott and Jaanus will usually be the ones to grab hold of the reigns in Town Hall Square, but you will occasionally see Christi or Siiri accompanying them in Tartu.

You can also follow their Facebook and Instagram pages to see what they are up to. What a wonderful time of year! 😊

The horses and sleighs of Jaanus Kallaste will be in Tartu Town Hall Square on 27 November, 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 31 December and 1 January from 15:30-20:00.

P.S. We offer some comfort to those who want to have a ride a little later just in case; it is worth calling Jaanus – the number is listed below – as from time to time, and if people are interested, there will be longer working days in Tartu.

Price: €7 per person per sleigh ride (children up to the age of 3 ride free).
Contact details for sleigh rides: +372 528 6284 (Jaanus Kallaste, also speaks Horse)