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XXVI Feira National do Cavalo - Golegã
25th National Horse Fair - Golegã 2001
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First let me start with a little background into Golegã's fair. To some of you the costumes and traditions shown here might seem strange. I'm sure that things like the virtual absence of helmets and the overabundance of stallions might feel odd and even reckless. Maybe twelve year olds riding entire horses in shoulder-to-shoulder crowded streets looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen... but that is just the way we've been doing things around here for centuries (even millennia!). Fortunately it looks like that, where horses are concerned, our traditions are set to survive the homogenisation of a "global culture"... And Golegã is the living proof of it!
Once a year, and for the duration of a week, Golegã is the centre, the border and the whole extent of the horse world in Portugal. Plans for next year are made even before this year's fair is over. For months Golegã has been inevitably creeping in at every conversation between riders. Old acquaintances meet each other once a year at the fair. It's hardly an exaggeration to say that Golegã is a shrine where every year riders from Portugal (and elsewhere) come in pilgrimage to pay homage to the horse!
As I had anticipated, I spent a lot of film during the three days I was here. Fortunately the weather was unbelievably cloudless, so the camera was a permanent companion. I hope these are worth the download :)!
At the main entrance to the village of Golegã there is this statue to the Lusitano horse, with the irons of all the studs member of the Portuguese Association of Lusitano Breeders, disposed around the base of it.
At the fair grounds proper, the major studs had some of their finest in display. Here is a stallion from the Veiga stud, one of the most important breeder of bullfighting horses.
No comments :)!
Later that first evening, a group of riders on the track around the central arena - the manga.
Another view of the manga. The arena is to the left of the picture.
For the duration of the fair, horses rein supreme over the village. Riders roam the streets, and cars wait patiently for their turn to move.
Sylvia Loch writes about Golegã's Fair: "Every house in Golegã boasts at least two or three stables, and when these begin to overflow, garages, stores and even basements of houses may be used to cram in magnificent Lusitano Stallions. In other words, there are literally hundreds of horses spilling out of every nook and cranny." In the case here the horse was stabled in the garage and I saw others coming out of even more unlikely places!
Most riders presented themselves in traditional Portuguese riding costume, with horses sporting classical saddles, bits and bridles.
Stopping for a chat and a drink.
All through the night riders kept strolling around. From old ladies to pre-teen kids, mostly riding stallions.
Stallions from Ortigão Costa's stud having dinner.
The final evaluation of the four year old stallions competition.
A "ride-in" :)! At this pub riders would simply barge in, order their drinks, talk for a while and leave, without ever parting with the saddle.
Freestyle Dressage to music.
Diane Thurman-Baker riding her Lusitano cross "Lucca".