The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every three years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


On the second Wednesday of September there is a market in Valkenburg ZH (South-Holland), where horses are the key issue. Horses are traded, there are ring tilting competitions with horses and there is a lottery. The ring tilting with horses or harnessed ponies begins on Saturday, the Market on the following Wednesday and the lottery is held at the end of the market. The Horse Market is called mart by the people from Valkenburg. From 5 AM the first animals appear on the market, which is situated around the Dutch Reformed Church. The market lasts till noon. There is straw for the animals, drinking water and a veterinarian are available. Sick or crippled animals are not allowed. An average of a hundred horses are standing there, primarily for show and for the atmosphere, as most of the time no more than five horses are traded. There are a lot of festive activities around the Horse Market, which are organised by the Orange Committee.



The Horse Market is organised by the Horse Market Committee. Horse traders and stall keepers from the wide area put their horses and ponies on the market. For the inhabitants of Valkenburg themselves, the Horse Market is so important that they invariably adapt their plans to it and even come back if they had moved to other places. They derive a part of their identity from it, as it were.



Before the year 1000 there have already been references of a horse market in Valkenburg SH. Thanks to the favourable location, it became more and more important for the region, with more than two thousand horses. These were trade horses, to be sold or exchanged. At a certain moment the Horse Market had grown into a feast that lasted for weeks, especially in the time of Queen Wilhelmina (1880-1962), whose birthday was on August 31st, for which the Orange Society Wilhelmina already organised festivities that lasted a week. The farmers were opposed to this, as they could not afford that nothing was being done for weeks due to all these festivities. It was then decided to combine the Orange festival week and the horse market festivities to one festive week. The exact moment is unknown. In any case it must have been after 1931, because the Orange Society Wilhelmina was established in that year. From that moment on the Society has been organising the games around the Horse Market. In the five years of World War II there was no Horse Market, but in 1946 the organisation was picked up again. Over time the Horse Market has developed from a trade market to a more folkloristic market, with a primarily social function. Nowadays the trade takes place on the internet mainly. As the Horse Market fulfils a significant binding function, its continued existence is important. Therefore the Horse Market Committee is trying to reach more children and young people. For this purpose, for instance, primary schools inform the children about the history and significance of the Horse Market. 





  • They will keep the social media, which are used to keep volunteers informed, up to date and starts meetings early. 
  • As soon as it is possible, one engages with the schools to pick up activities. These include a children's parade and children's games on Wednesday afternoons.
  • Depending on the new Covid rules, the organization of the Voorschoten and Rijnsburg horse market will be contacted about how they have organized the market and the plans will be adjusted accordingly.
  • They are looking at how the horse market can be brought to the attention of new residents. How this can be planned is not yet known.
  • Should one of the older committee members step down then there will be specific recruitment of young people. The Horse Market is a small world in which knowing one and other plays an important role.
  • Contact with the municipality is maintained throughout the year in order to keep the annual subsidy going.             
  • During the first meeting in May they will be informed about the latest legislation regarding animal welfare at markets. These rules will then be applied to the Horse Market in September.


Comité tot Instandhouding van Neerlands Oudste Paardenmarkt
Achterweg 20
Valkenburg (ZH)