The Menorcan Horse: Athlete, Artist and Good Luck Charm

Published on: May 28, 2014

Filled Under: Europe, Menorca, Spain

Views: 1522

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Menorcan eye candy
Photo courtesy of Euebio Enrich Marti
Athlete in training
Photo by: Michael Henry
Learning the steps
Photo by: Michael Henry
In sync
Photo by: Michael Henry
This is how the pros do it
Photo by: Michael Henry
The mouthy Texan's moment
Photo by: Michael Henry
Showtime
Photo courtesy of Miguel Sales

There are many reasons to visit the Spanish island of Menorca: unspoiled beaches, ancient villages, pastoral countryside and dramatic seaside cliffs. For me, there was an even more compelling motivation to visit Menorca. I wanted to see the legendary Menorcan horse.

The Menorcan horse is, quite simply, a beautiful creature. Even if you don’t know horses, when you see a Menorcan horse, you just know it is something special. With the best characteristics of its Andalusian, Arab and Thoroughbred heritage, the Menorcan horse has a proud arching neck, a thick, unruly mane, and a powerful, but graceful manner of movement. Consider the Menorcan horse the Ferrari of the equine world.

The horse is an integral part of Menorcan life, and the star of the island’s annual summer festivals. During the festivals, horses are ridden into surging crowds of spectators, where, on cue, they perform a maneuver called the ‘bot’. In a bot, the horse rises up on its hindquarters, almost to the vertical. While the horse is elevated, throngs of celebrants rush forward, reaching up to touch the animal’s breastplate. Touching the chest of a rearing horse is a foolhardy act, but one thought to bestow good luck on those who succeed.  For the horse, performing the bot in a crush of lunging people is an incredible display of athleticism, control and trust in its rider.

During our wanderings in Menorca, we visited a little pub called the Lennon Bar in the town of Ferreries. Despite the fact that Menorcans speak MenorquÍn, a dialect of Catalan, and we speak Texan, a tragic bastardization of English, we were able to engage in light conversation with the locals. During the course of one exchange, I spotted a picture of a Menorcan horse on the bar’s computer screen saver. When I expressed my admiration for the animal, I was promptly introduced to the colt’s owner. The man beamed with pride as I praised his yearling, and then squired me around the tavern to introduce me to his fellow horsemen. The night ended with an invitation to visit the stable the following day to see the horses. I was beyond excited.

The next morning, our new friends were waiting for us in the village square at the agreed upon time. They led us up the hill to the stable and showed us around. In each stall was a glorious black stallion, at least a dozen in total. One of the horses was saddled, and we were given an impressive show of the animal’s talents.

I was so enthralled watching the stallion’s moves, I didn’t notice that a sizeable crowd had gathered around the arena rail. Apparently word was out that there was a mouthy Texan in town who claimed she could ride. What they knew, and I was soon to find out, was that I was going to get my chance.

The stallion’s rider approached, dismounted, and handed me the reins. With my heart racing, I climbed into the saddle and put the horse through his paces.  The stallion’s gaits were fluid and animated, almost dance-like.  As a rider, I was totally outclassed by the horse, but when I requested permission to bot, the owner smiled and nodded. With little more than the thought of the cue, the stallion responded, effortlessly rising up in the air. It was a joyous, exhilarating moment.

As amazing as it was to ride that Menorcan horse, something even more remarkable happened that day. Those folks let a virtual stranger drive their treasured, fine-tuned Ferrari. They introduced me to their families and friends. They took me into their fold. Despite the language barrier, we bonded through a shared passion for an extraordinary animal. Our friendship was a stroke of good luck:  a gift from the Menorcan horse.

4 Comments on The Menorcan Horse: Athlete, Artist and Good Luck Charm

  1. Patsy Flora says:

    You obviously can converse like you write. So up-front. How can anyone deny you your wish ?
    What magnificent horses are these. Black Beauty ! You seem to make friends wherever you journey.
    You make a reader feel as if they have had the ‘experience’ also.

    • Susan says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Patsy. Only black horses are allowed to be registered as Menorcan Horses, so indeed they are all black beauties.

  2. Zoë Dawes says:

    What a treat for you to be able to ride one of these magnificent animals – I love your comparison with a Ferrari. You clearly have excellent riding skills to be able to manage one of these highly trained horses and to be able to do the ‘bot’ – bravo! I’m so glad we connected via my article on Menorcan Horses http://www.thequirkytraveller.com/2013/09/menorcan-horse-black-beauty-balearics – I have never ridden one but felt as is I had been closer reading your article 🙂

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