Horses of Menorca
To talk of Minorca is to talk of horses and the passion that the Minorcans feel for them.
Minorca has its own race of horse, the Minorcan horse. Its roots are very old and is an example of a race that has been preserved throughout the centuries. This race of horse is highly valued, be it for working on the farm or for riding. It is a horse of noble character, calm and obedient, energetic, agile, with a black coat, a long body and a long, strong tail. It's the only race that is naturally capable of standing up on and walking on its hind legs, giving rise to the 'bot', where it walks on its hind legs and paws the air during the 'elevada'.
The Minorcan fiestas would be nothing without the horses. They are horse fiestas, following a very precise ceremony which brings to mind medieval tournaments and jousts and ends with the 'jaleo', an explosion of energy and joy. The horse is the star of all the fiestas during the summer in the island villages. From June (San Juan in Ciudadela) until September (Virgin de Gràcia in Mahon). The horses dressed in ribbons, embroidery and multicoloured rosettes together and their riders dressed in black and white relive each year a ritual that dates back to the beginning of the 14th century.
In the 'jaleo' the 'caixers' (riders) get their horses to dance on their hind legs, surrounded by a multitude of people of all ages. The horses dance to the sound of the traditional fiesta music, do 'bots' and 'elevadas' in the middle of the crowd, none of whom are ever hurt. It is a unique spectacle not to be missed.
Minorca feels passion for its horses, which are present not only in the fiestas but a diversity of other activities such as trotting races, riding classes and competitions.
The relationship between Minorca and its horses dates back many centuries. Various historians date the origins to the division of land which followed the arrival of Alfonso II of Cataluyna, III of Aragon in 1287, grandson of Jaime I the Conqueror who after the conquest of the island divided the land into "cavalleries" each being ruled by a knight.
The "Cami de Cavalls" is a coastal path that was used in olden days for communication and mounted patrols. Nowadays it is being restored by the Consell Insular of Minorca to allow it to be discovered by foot, bicycle and horseback. More information
- Sant Joan de Ciutadella - 23 and June 24, besides the previous Sunday (día des Be)
- Sant Martí de Es Mercadal - third weekend in July
- Sant Antoni de Fornells - fourth weekend in July
- Sant Jaume de Es Castell - 24 and July 25
- Sant Cristòfol de Es Migjorn Gran - fifth weekend in July or first in August
- Sant Gaietà de Llucmaçanes - first weekend in August
- Sant Llorenç de Alaior - weekend after 10 August
- Sant Climent de Sant Climent - third weekend in August
- Sant Bartomeu de Ferreries - 23 and August 24
- Sant Lluís de Sant Lluís - fourth weekend in August
- Mare de Déu de Gràcia de Maó - 7 and September 8