The Menorca Horse and the traditional Menorcan Festivals in every town have their origins in the Ciutadella
Festival on 23th and 24th of June. The form of this festival have remained largely
unchanged since the 14th century. Originally a pilgrimage on horseback to the Sant
Joan de Misa hermitage on the outskirts of Ciutadella the Nobility led the procession
followed by the Clergy and finally the Peasantry.
Over the years new elements were added. The most significant of which was
the introduction of El Jaleo at the beginning of the 20th century. The story is told
of how one year the pilgrimage passed in front of a brass band which was in the middle
of a performance of the then popular piece “El Postillón de la Rioja” by the Spanish
composer Cristóbal Oudrid. For whatever reason the horses became startled and
rose on their hindquarters. The result of the commotion was pandemonium. The Spanish word
for such a commotion is "Jaleo”. This incident has been incorporated within the Menorcan
horsemans' routines ever since, in memory of this event in history.
The distinctive Menorca horse takes pride of place in festivals the length and breadth
of the Island. So adept has the Menorcan horse become at bucking and skilled at walking
on its back legs these animals are now symbolic of Menorcan Festivals.
The Menorca horse was been officially recognized as an indigenous breed in 1989.
It is distinct in character and pure black in colour. It is slender in appearance,
muscular and powerful, with large round eyes.
Recent research on this breed has indicated that it may be of Berber origin.
It is one of the few totally black horses preserved in Europeand it is now believed
that this horse has never been a working horse. Field work has,according to tradition
always been done on the Island by donkeys. Its appearance is particular elegant and
Islanders take a pride in its hautiness. Seeing these horses when you are visiting
Menorca will be an unforgetable experience especially if you see them perform at one
of the many festivals.
The main festival in Menorca is Sant Joan. Base in Ciutadella. it is the Menorcan
horse that takes pride of place. From the opening of the festival the event belongs
to the Menorcan horses and their riders The Sant Joan Festival, the biggest in Menorca,
runs from 23rd to the 24th of June.
Other festivals where you can see the Menorcan horse in action are at the end of July
in Es Mercadal, Fornells and Es Castell. In August things get hectic and almost every
weekend there is a festival in Es Migjorn Gran, Llucmacanes, Alaior, Sant Climent,
Ferreries and on the 24th and 25th in Sant Bartomeu and Sant Lluis. September sees
festivals on the 8th and 9th in Mao.
The horse is the main theme of almost all the cultural celebrations in Menorca. This
indicates the extent to which the horse is important in society and in the traditions
of the Menorcan People.
In Menorca is the sport of harness racing, or trotting as I would describe it, takes
place every week. The two race tracks on the island, are at Torre del Ram in Ciutadella
and the one in Maó is on the the Maó to Sant Lluís highway, not far from the Airport.
Yet another aspect of the horses involvement in the fabric of Menorcan Society is
Horse Breaking and Training. There are
Equestrian Shows organised for Tourists every week, with artistic displays
of the harmony and beauty of the Menorcan Horses.
The Horse tradition in Menorca has nurtured many Equestrian Clubs and Organisations which
organise courses and activities for those learning the sport. Menorca provides the opportunity
to go on organised excursions, on horse back, to many parts of the Island
Leave the Menorca Horse