IT is one of the most evocative scenes to be found in Europe.

And it is hard to tell who is more nervous: the untamed horses about to get their manes and tails cut off, or the hardy locals attempting to do the job.

The event happens every year in the Galician village of Sabudeco, where hundreds of wild horses are rounded up from the nearby mountains.

It is part of the age-old Rapa das Bestas (‘taming the beast’) festival, which took place last week.

After the horses are put in a corral, men and women are challenged to wrestle the untamed horses to the ground, and cut off their tails and manes.

Lacking weapons or ropes as they confront the boisterous horses, the wrestlers or aloitadores must use their bare hands—and a healthy dose of courage—to control the beasts.

Subscribe to the Olive Press


  1. We had reports some years ago of many cruelty issues within the Rapa das Bestas Festivals and with the collaboration of the International League for the Protection of Horses we did reports on various festivals on the mountain ranges throughout Galicia. I must admit we did not see the organized stallion fights that were previously being reported within magazines throughout Europe. As the various herds were being rounded up and ended up in the stone corals there were certainly many scuffles breaking out from the stallions. Talking to many of the crofters at these festivals that farm these ponies they have been relying on the meat and sales income since the Celts brought them there. Their view is if you are a meat eaters, then what is the difference between eating cows and sheep than wild horses! Of course for a horse lover and vegetarian it was hard to take in. What was disturbing and not uncommon to Spain that you have always have the sad element that wants to show how macho they are! Especially when there are crowds watching and certainly I thought those that had quite a lot of liquid courage, went well over the top! All the festivals we visited had SOPRONA offices attending, not that we noticed any that intervened in the proceedings. We also found out that many of the yearling colts were being sent off to auction at various locations and many were going thought to Barcelona as well as Italy for slaughter.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.