How Horses Saved and Influenced a Century Club Member’s Life
This article is sponsored by The Dressage Foundation.
Peter Kalman, born in Budapest on August 14, 1937, began his life amidst the brutality of World War II. At age seven, Peter and his mother fled Budapest to his grandmother’s village in Felsönyék to avoid bombing raids. In an attempt to escape the advancing Soviet forces, they joined a Hungarian Calvary Hospital wagon train, whose Colonel was in charge of fleeing civilians, many of which were escaping on horseback.
The Colonel’s son, András, who was a year older than Peter, had a black and white pinto and a partially blind pony. They would spend the next year on this wagon train, riding these two horses, staying only 10-20 miles ahead of the Soviet forces as they traveled through Hungary. They eventually found solace in Austria at a US military camp, where they stayed until the war ended.
Peter returned to Hungary after the war, traveling home in a packed cattle car. Upon his return, Peter spent his youth as a gymnast, and later a wrestler. One of his best friends went on to military academy. The General in charge of the school was a great wrestling fan and invited Peter to the academy to participate in riding lessons.
Unfortunately, peace in Hungary did not last long. In October of 1956, Peter found himself in the midst of the Hungarian Revolution, fighting a flood of tanks and armored cars coming in from the Soviet Union. Eventually, they occupied every major artery of Budapest. Peter was able to escape to Austria in December of 1956, spending four months at a refugee camp in Solbad Hall, Austria.
In April 1957, Peter immigrated to the US as a political refugee. From the mid-60s until the late 1970s, he enjoyed equestrian sports including jumping, eventing, and dressage. He soon became President of the Pomona Chapter of California Dressage Society, a position he held for some years.
A turn of events in 2009 allowed Peter to return to the saddle after 30 years. Since then, Peter has ridden several horses under the influence of Hilda Gurney, fellow countryman Charles De Kunffy, and Dorie Vlatten and Uli Schmitz.
In 2017, Peter learned of The Dressage Foundation’s Century Club, a program that honors senior riders and horses. To join, the ages of the horse and rider must add up to at least 100 years, and the pair must complete any level dressage test at a show or event. Inspired by the program, Peter completed three Century Rides that year. Those rides set an idea into motion—completing a Century Club ride at every Level!
The year 2019 brought two more Century Club rides for Peter; another two in early 2020. By that time, he had ridden a test at every Level from Introductory to Prix St. Georges…a unique accomplishment for a Century Club member.
At age 83, Peter continues to ride five to six times a week, sometimes two or three horses a day. He also rides a Ducati Streetfighter, and is parenting an adopted son of 11, Brody, who keeps Peter and his wife hopping. His goals for the future have not changed. In addition to bringing Brody up as a man of character, he has his eyes set on a Century Ride in every Level. Intermediate 1, 2, and Grand Prix remain.
Peter has enjoyed a rich, equestrian career filled with talented horses. Looking back now, he said it was all possible due to a black and white pinto and a partially blind pony, who carried small boys safely on their backs, away from the war. This great love and appreciation is evident to all who have seen Peter ride and care for his horses.
Peter Kalman’s Century Club Rides – Through the Levels
Intro – 2017 with Lenz (age 28), owned by Dorie Vlatten Schmitz
Training – 2020 with Mystiques Prophet (age 21), owned by MaryAnne Porter
First – 2019 with India Ink (age 25), owned by Dorie Vlatten Schmitz
Second – 2017 with With Honors (age 25), owned by Tara Molinar
Third – 2020 with Fleetwood (age 22), owned by Dorie Vlatten Schmitz
Fourth – 2019 with Daner Armani (age 23), owned by Dorie Vlatten Schmitz, previously owned by the late Randi Nelson Shipley
Prix St. Georges – 2017 with Bennigan (age 23), owned by Dorie Vlatten Schmitz