One of the thrills of foreign travel for me is stepping out of my comfort zone and exploring new places. Ideally, I like horseback riding vacations where I am able to go riding in the country. On a recent river boat cruise to the Christmas Markets of Europe I enjoyed a brief overnight in Vienna, Austria. There was no time for horseback riding, but I did have a chance to interview a Fiaker.
What does the word Fiaker mean? A Fiaker is the German word for carriage driver or reference to the entire carriage itself. The term Fiaker comes from France. According to an article published in the Austrian Times, Fiakers are one of the cities most popular tourist attractions. Some animal rights activists might worry that the horses are not well treated, but I did not find that to be true. Of course, I did not visit the stables where the horses live, during my visit.
Finding horses in Vienna.
All Fiakers are licensed with 58 carriages allowed daily in the city of Vienna. The horses typically work two days, followed by one day off. They have access to food and water between their city tour rounds and are blanketed in the winter time when they are waiting for passengers according to my conversation with Carriage Driver Andrew Kollinsky. Each Fiaker must own six horses in order to change out the horses in a rotating manner.
Horse loving Fiaker
Andrew Kollinsky is a horse lover who owns race horses. “It takes a special horse to fit within the Fiaker carriage frame due to its size,” says Kollinsky. The Fiaker’s use trotting horses and Hungarian Warmbloods, also known as Hungarian Sport horses to drive the two-horse carriages.
If You Go:
You’ll find the horses and their beautifully maintained carriages waiting next to St. Stephens Cathedral. The city sightseeing tours are offered in several languages and typically last one hour and include sights such as the Hofburg Imperial Palace.
Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Vienna, Austria
Article, photos and video by Equine Writer Nancy D. Brown. Thank you to Viking River Cruises for providing me this opportunity to hang out with horses in Vienna.