Peasant Cavalry in Slovakia: A Green Army of the Agrarian Party or a Prestigious Club?

Sedliacka jazda na Slovensku: zelené vojsko agrárnej strany, alebo jej prestížny klub?

Author deals with the place of Peasant Cavalry in Slovakia during the inter-war period. This significant organization was officially established in 1926 and belonged to the most successful and the most influential political party of the 1st Czechoslovak Republic – agrarian party. Author focuses on the position of Peasant Cavalry in the Slovak society, sources of its ideology and the problems it had been dealing with in Slovakia. He tries to answer the following question: was the party successful in its attempt to transform Peasant Cavalry into a mass organization as it was officially declared or was it a prestigious club for free time activities of wealthy citizens from the Slovak countryside. The goal of the party was to create mass organization for equestrian sport, horse breeding and in the 1930s also for premilitary and paramilitary education in the coordination with armed forces. The second function of the organization was to protect its members from the indoctrination with the ideologies of other political movements. The situation of Peasant Cavalry in Slovakia was much different from its position in the Czech lands. There were many obstacles for the expansion of the organization in Slovakia, most significantly the lack of finances among the party members. According to rules of the organization each member was responsible to use his own horse, harness and saddle and find money for tailoring of his uniform. Documents highlight dismal financial situation of local Peasant cavalries which was with few exceptions typical for the whole inter-war period. The number of members started to rise significantly only after it was decided that cycling would become one of the activities of the organization in 1933. Author points out that Slovak Peasant Cavalry was able to gain some autonomy from the Prague centre. As a result of this, there was some paradox in organization of agrarian party. Despite of its effort, the Slovak wing of the party was not able to achieve some sort of organizational autonomy on the party level till the end of the 1st Czechoslovak Republic. The paper shows that there was strict nationalism applied for the members of the organization. The membership was open only for Slovaks and Czechs and the members of the Hungarian party organization established in 1920s were not allowed to join Peasant Cavalry. Despite of the fact that Peasant cavalry did not become a mass organization in Slovakia, its contribution for the development and popularization of the equestrian sport in Slovakia was significant. It also improved some military skills of its members and helped to create positive attitude towards republic and its democratic regime.