The rein in Spain goes somewhere quite insane…

January 20, 2009

Blog Guy, I saw these amazing photos from Spain, with dudes riding horses through fire. What’s that about?

It’s the annual Saint Anthony purification ceremony. They ride their horses through bonfires placed around the village, to “purify” the animals with fire and smoke.

Do horses actually need purification?

I can’t imagine why they would. I’ve known a lot of unpurified horses myself, and they were pretty nice. I don’t know why this one village seems to produce so many impure horses.

I don’t like this at all. Don’t you think they should stop this tradition?

No way. They should just leave the real horses out of it. If a bunch of humans want to put on horse costumes and then stupidly gallop through an inferno, that’s fine with me. What’s the downside?

“Okay, Herb and Ernie, it’s your turn. Who gets to be the horse’s butt this year?”

Get a clue! Join the Oddly Enough blog network!

Above: Man drinks alcohol during the Saint Anthony purification ceremony in the village of San Bartolome de los Pinares, Spain, January 16, 2009. According to tradition, revelers ride their horses through bonfires placed around the village to purify the animals with fire and smoke.

Below: Men ride horses through flames at the ceremony.

REUTERS photos by Susana Vera


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Um… So the moral of the story, is don’t drink or you’ll get all fired up in dumb ways?

Maybe it’s just about not being RTFUI (riding through fire under the influence)…

Posted by Bandage | Report as abusive

I am shocked and dismayed by such incredible stupidity. Horses are noble, intelligent creatures. Humans, as this blog has demonstrated innumerable times, are often too stupid to live. To gallop thorugh fire takes the bisquit. There has to be some kind of check to this stupidity. And it is clearly up to the horses to provide that check. The humans were drunk. Horses, what’s your excuse?

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

Wow, can’t they find something else to ride thru fire on, maybe a truck or a bike? If the idiots want to light themselves on fire that is one thing, the horses, well, that is just sad.

Oh, and Mary Kay is a makeup company :)

Posted by amber | Report as abusive

Wow, how silly all the comments are.
When war was done on horseback, which was until WWI and in some cases in WWII, horses had to pass barricades and fires.
The fact that neither rider nor horse gets hurt is testimony that both are highly trained and know what they are doing. The restraint that the horse demonstrates being surrounded by fire is fantastic, given the adrenaline. Only weepy idiots with no knowledge of either riding and horses would comment so stupidly. Enjoy the photos for the magical images that they are and leave the “poor horsey” comments to the slaughterhouses in the U.S.A. filled with horses to kill because their irresponsible owners changed their minds about taking care of them.

Posted by YSL | Report as abusive

I have done some stupid things on horse both to myself and them. It turned out fine but I would not do them again. But a fire!I was not that stupid. It probably is not harmful to horses but still……… I mean you can jump over a small camp fire or run your hand across a flame no problem. Still STUPID!

Posted by Ed Baker | Report as abusive

Hey YSL, do you realize people here are just trying to goad more funny comments from other people? I mean sheesh, let people alone and quit being so anal.

Posted by drai | Report as abusive

YSL is absolutely correct.

In the olden days, war was conducted on horseback. Those poor horses were subjected to fire, rains of arrows and lances of the enemy, not to mention the close quarter hacks of swords and daggers.

So, stupid as it might appear, it is a reasonable and accurate vestige of antiquity, of only a hundred years, or so, ago.

Notably, horses would not charge to the attack of an infantry square armed with bayonets; but, they would dive through relatively thin walls of fire. So, maybe they’re not so stupid as some might think.

Posted by gwmc | Report as abusive

Strikes me that horses are much bigger than people, and if they really didn’t like the fire they’d be outta there trailing the chappie with the bottle after them…

Posted by Louise | Report as abusive

Umm…YSL the US outlawed slaughter of horses about a year ago, against the advice of the American Veterinary Medical Association, btw.

As for riding horses through flames, well, I guess it’s one way to prove you and your horse know what you’re doing. The horses have got to be pretty broke to do that.

Posted by jr57 | Report as abusive

I’m not sure why you are all so upset. This is a purification ritual. Like one might cauterize a wound, this ritual cauterizes the soul and cleans away the impurities in the horse. This ritual is a testament to the piety of these men and should be looked upon with admiration. It’s good to know that at least some people still have faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ. Maybe you should all consider going to church sometime. It will do you some good.

Posted by Thomas M. | Report as abusive

I stand by my earlier comment. As the creatures with the vastly superior intelligence in those photographs, the horses should have known better than to let some drunken, stupid humans manipulate them though flames. If some drunken, silly sot demanded that he ride on my back through flames (experienced horseman or not), I would have kicked him right suare in the YSL.

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

You have to remember this comes from a country renowned for its absence of compassion for its animals.

Where else would you find a so-called “spectator sport” contrived by:
a) – taking carefully selected “stupid bulls” (yes, they don’t pick the brighter ones),
b) – shaving their horns to disorientate them, (a bull’s horns give it spacial awareness
c) – driving them hundreds of miles in high temperatures to the arena and without food or water to ensure they are already near to exhaustion
d) – use horsemen to stick spears down through their back so their lungs become heavily congested with blood and they can barely breathe (ever seen the pictures of bulls snorting the blood out of their nostrils?)

and then, but only then, does some poncy Matador dressed in a child’s romper suit, step forth to taunt the bull through its final minutes of miserable exhaustion.

Posted by Hans Upp | Report as abusive

Is it a myth that there is a Spanish festival (not sure it was part of Easter before/during/after) that they make a donkey jump off a high tower. Nobody seems to have mentioned that. And the Pamploma bull run – I always cheer for the bulls! As for purification by fire – not much chance horses have concept of religion, probably just horses thinking back to previous generation’s war days, more chance of less injury jumping through fire that facing angry blokes with spears/swords/maces (even though those aren’t around).

Posted by Owen | Report as abusive

Not to put a racial or national face on it, but, the Spaniards are the weirdest people with animals. Bull fighting aside, they toss goats from church bell towers and they hunt rabbits by stuffing ferrets (which look cute but are definitely straight out of hell) into their holes.

Posted by Ferhat | Report as abusive

As cruel as it may appear on the surface, those that have lost horses to fire, surely wish that their horses had been de-sensitized to the site of flames. Often times, when a horse is frightened, they go to their stalls which is their safe place. I have seen horses perish in a fire when they had been gotten out of the burning barn, only to run down their would be rescuer to get back to their stalls. Maybe we should all work with our horses on conquering the fear of fire and smoke.

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