Menorca festivals where the horse is the protagonist

At the beginning of the 14th century, Ciudadella began to celebrate the festival of Sant Joan, which today is considered the origin of the current patron saint festivities that in Menorca receive the generic name of “jaleos”. In these “jaleos” the Menorcan horses have a leading role and the riders (“caixers”) strive to demonstrate their skills on the best and most decorated horses.

In the case of Menorca and the horses it can be said that so famous “so much rides so much, rides so much”, because All the towns on this Balearic island have horses as the main protagonists of their patron saint festivities.some events that receive the popular name of “jaleos”.

Starting with the festival of Sant Joan in Ciudadella (June 23-24), which traditionally kicks off the summer, During the summer months, the Menorcan calendar is full of “jaleos” in each and every one of its four cardinal points.

These are popular festivals deeply rooted in the tradition of Menorca and began to be held in Ciudadella at the beginning of the 14th century. Originally, these “jaleos” had a fundamentally religious and social character, since all the estates that made up the Menorcan society of the time were represented in them, and where horses already had a leading role.

As also happens in Andalusia, Menorcans have a special relationship with horses and this explains why since 1988 this island has recognized its own equine breed.

It is precisely Menorcan horses that have been involved in the popular “jaleos” for about two hundred years.turning each and every one of the patron saint festivities into events where, among other more playful aspects, they worship horses.

Jaleos parties in Menorca

The Menorcan horse is distinguished by presenting a brilliant black livery, it has a height that can exceed 160 centimeters and since its origins they have been animals destined for the so-called Menorcan dressage and more recently also for dressage.

Despite the fact that the territory of this equine breed is confined to an island with a surface area of ​​less than 700 km², today the population of Menorcan horses exceeds 3,000 specimens and is growing at a rate of 150 horses per year.

Horses and riders

In the “hacks” the horses compete to be the most decoratedwhile for their part the horsemen (cavallers or caixers) must wear the typical traditional clothing, which consists of white pants and shirts, black frock coat and bow tie, vest, leggings and guindola (the typical Menorcan hat).

Secondly, the horses are adorned with flowers and bows on their heads and bridles, they carry a star on their foreheads and a beautifully decorated velvet buldrafa (the blanket on which the Menorcan chair rests).

Finally, the tail is folded and is also usually adorned with flowers and bows. All ornaments are made by hand in an artisanal waywhich makes all of them different and personal to each rider.

horse in Jaleo de Menorca

In the “jaleos” there are different types of “caixers”as is the case of the “fadrí” or “fadrina” (single or single rider) who is in charge of transporting the flag that must be waved on the balcony of the town hall on each of the patron saint’s days and during the celebration of the parade.

There are also the married or married riders, the chaplain rider (Sa Capellana) and the “batle” or “batlessa” (mayor or mayor) who carries the baton.

What is a “hack” like?

At the beginning of the “jaleo” the riders enter the main square from each locality led by the standard-bearing rider, passing with their mounts through a totally dedicated crowd, demonstrating their skills and making the horses jump to the rhythm of popular music that is also called “jaleo”.

Then all the riders with their horses parade in a cavalcade (qualcada) through different streets and once After the “jaleo” of the second day of festivities, it is usual for the “caixers” to receive a beer by the authorities, which in some way acts as a reward for their participation in the festivities.

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