Menorca Horse

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

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