„These thoughts were interrupted by my catching sight of a statue of the goddess Epona seated in a small shrine centrally placed, where a pillar supported the roof-beams in the middle of a stable. The statue had been devotedly garlanded with freshly picked roses.” (Apuleius: Metamorphoses. III. 27.)
The gaulish name of Epona is the latin equivalent of the celtic goddess ekuo-na; the meaning of the prefixes ekuo- and epo- is horse.
When Caesar conquered the former roman province of Gaul, the goddess gained access to the roman pantheon by means of a general practice, that is many of the deities of the newly conquered territories were accepted and recognised as roman deities.
Besides the above-cited Apuleius, Iuvenalis (Satirae. VIII. 155.) and Minucius Felix (Octavianus. XXVII. 7.) also refer to the stables dedicated to the goddess and decorated with the depictions of Epona.
According to a calendar dating back to the 1st century A.D., discovered near the city of Verona, the feast of Epona is the so called XV KALENDAS IANUARIAS EPONAE, the 18th of December, the first day of winter, rather close to the time of the winter solstice. The depictions of the goddess Epona and the altars dedicated to her can be found on the entire territory of the old empire, first of all in the provinces of the former celtic territory (mainly from GALLIA LUGDUNENSIS) and along the limes, the former military territory (GERMANIA SUPERIOR). The relics connected with the armed forces stem mainly from the gaulish cavalry and military troops (ALAE), however, other cavalries, for example the imperial cavalry-guards (EQUITES SINGULARES AUGUSTI) also created altars dedicated to the goddess. There is an altar found in Hungary, in the settlement of the present-day Szentendre in a former Roman fortification (ULCISIA CASTRA) that has the name of the goddess: EPONA REGINAE, that is queen Epona. The inscription (IULIUS VICTOR EQUES VEXILLARIUS COHORTIS NOVA SEVERIANAE GORDIANAE SURORUM SAGITTARIORUM) was made in the year of 241 A. D. by Iulius Victor, the cornet of the archery stationed at the site.
The depictions and representations of the goddess occured basically in two different forms: showing the goddess sitting on a horse – predominantly characteristic in the middle-gallic territories – or standing in between horses or foals, or as a deity sitting on a throne in the east-gallic, rhenish, italian, hispanian and british provinces, and provinces from the region of the river Danube. In these versions Epona is depicted with a fruit-basket or a dog in her lap, or also with a bird on her knees and with either one or two dogs on her side. In case of both depictions the goddess usually holds a cornucopia and a patera (a broad, shallow dish used for drinking) in her hands. On a marble plate from the territory of Dacia kept at the museum of fine arts is a depiction of Epona, on which the goddess sits on her throne in a long dress and rests her hands on the necks of the two foals on her both sides. The main occurence of the goddess is primarily not on the depictions, but rather the inscriptions found on the votive altars that are dedicated to EPONAE, DEAE EPONAE (Epona the goddess), EPONAE AUGUSTAE (mighty Epona) EPONE REGINAE (queen Epona). On a votive altar found in a public building in the settlement of Aquincum is the following inscription to be found: EPONAE AUGUSTAE
The Epona Ltd. was established in 1990 and was the owner and maintainer of the so called „Horse village” built in 1992 on the plain of Hortobágy. This company was also proprietor of the famous stud of Hortobágy containing 400 horses. In the year of 1991 we started the breeding of sporthorses in cooperation with the Holsteiner Horse Association. During this period international and national championships of several equestrian disciplines were organised and held at the location of the establishment. We sponsored competitors of the Hungarian National Team in carriage driving, show-jumping and dressage.
In the year of 2000 we were the first in Hungary to import purebred spanish horses. In 2001 Epona has moved closer to the city of Budapest with the main aim of popularizing and propagating, breeding and training purebred spanish horses in Hungary.
During these years the establishment formed many connections with breeders in Spain and maintains good relations with horsemen in the world of spanish horses. We are members of the ANCCE (Purebred Spanish Horse Breeders’ National Association) and we are in contact with all the associations connected with spanish horses (Hispano-Arabe Horse Association, Azteca Horse Association, etc.).
We are in exceptionally good business relationship and we established friendly relations with many spanish horse breeders, vets, horse transportation companies, rejoneadors (toreadors fighting the bull on horseback) and the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art of Jerez and its riders.
With the help of our connections and relations developed during these many years we intend to popularize the purebred spanish horse, the culture of spanish equestrianism, and new spanish breeds like the hispano-arabe and the azteca (purebred spanish horse x quarter horse).
Our aim is to help, support and improve the breeding of purebred spanish horses in Hungary on the highest level.