I usually go to Spain on photo trips, but I also like to spend my holidays there. This year, the choice fell on Minorca. As I had read before about beautiful black horses, which are bred there, closely related with Andalusian horses, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see them.
On the island the horses are the main heroes of the fiestas in honor of St. John, which have a long tradition, dating back to the fourteenth century. Fiestas are held throughout the summer in various towns on the island. I had the opportunity to participate in their celebrations in Es Castell. Riders, called here caixers, dressed in black ceremonial dress coats, pass through the streets of the town and, after the service, gather in the main square, where the traditional Jaleo begins. In the rhythm of lively music typical of fiestas, played by a local orchestra, caixers rise their mounts in the middle of a dense crowd. Farther the horse go on his back legs, the greater applause rider receives. In the meantime, daredevils, and I must say they are numerous, are trying to touch the rearing horse. Apparently, the biggest source of pride is touching it on the front.
Characteristic bridle decorations
I must admit that I watched this spectacle with a slight horror. The crowd of volunteers was so thick that horses entering the square, barely were able to move. On the other hand, what surprised me even more, none of the horses, didn’t even try to kick nor buck towards this human throng. Rearing, they even gave the impression as if they were doing everything that was in their power to not even reach anybody with their hooves. Jaleo lasts as long as there riders willing to take part in it. We didn’t wait till the very end.
Besides the main squeare where riders and their horses show, the townspeople celebrate going the whole fog, sipping a gin and lemonade, called here “pomade”. We had to go back to the hotel so we contented ourselves with hot “churros” (stamens with steamed cake) with icing sugar. I wished I had a professional camera, I couldn’t take. However I invite you to watch the movie, which I recorded wit my compact Nikon. I hope that it will allow you a little bit to feel the atmosphere of this feast.
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