Horsing around in Jerez 

One of the frustrations of travelling is finding out that you have arrived in a place just before or after a major festival or event. You kick yourself wondering why you didn’t google festivals in your destination of choice before you book everything and then plan around that event if it falls on the same page in the calendar. Luck fell my way this trip. When looking at travelling to Cadiz I found out that a major annual festival was going to be on in Jerez (pronounced Herez) which is only 35 minutes up the train line from where we were going to be. A quick rearrangement of plans – take one day out of Ronda and add it to Cadiz – enabling us a day for the Feria del Cabaro. That’s Festival of Horses for those of you who can’t speak Spanish.

It’s a serious festival that apparently had its origins way way back in 1240s as a horse trading fair. It still continues use as a horse trading fair and a celebration of horses, which hosts regular events including the famed white Andalcuian dancing horses which are located in Jerez. There are also dressage performances and other horsey things. Just to set the record straight, we didn’t see any of these events due to not being able to get a timetable of events despite or best attempts. Instead we were here hoping to see the colour and spectacle of the parading in the festival grounds where women dress in traje de flamenca (flamenco dresses) and vaquero (horsemen) drive horses carriages. We also wanted to see the casetas which are small ‘bars’ where you buy drinks and  food, decorated in different ways all vying for the honoured title of the best caseta.

OK let’s put you out of your misery. OMG. This was amazing in the true sense of the word. I’ve never seen anything like it and probably never will again. It was noisy, crowded and damned hot in the unrelenting bright Spanish sun. It also was colourful and a feast for the senses. I didn’t stop smiling for hours.  I think the whole purpose of what we saw was TO BE SEEN regardless of whether you were on a horse, driving a carriage drawn by horses or wearing a gorgeous dress. Parading is the name of the game. Round and round the riders go. LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME! 

Passengers in the carriages wanted to be seen 

Little girls wanted to be seen, well maybe some were more keen than others

Some would pose for any who asked

But it was also fun just capturing the women walking around looking gorgeous in those ridiculous dresses. Those of you who are observant will notice the distinct lack of effort made by the men accompanying the women 

These girls were just having so much funMy favourites without a doubt were the single riders. The hats, the trousers, the little jackets and high waisted pants. And the arrogance in the way they ride. Perfectly straight, left hand holding the reigns and right hand placed on their thigh. They commanded attention. When they rode together it was like the pose had arrived in town. 

They even looked impressive from behind

Some of the guys looked really cute

But these hats on the women … ohh la la.  I think I just fell in love! 

And then there is always the wannabe, the also ran (last seen in Córdoba last week)

I also found another wannabe who wanted to be seen parading around in her own fairy tale pumpkin coach. She was much lighter after the event having removed €40 from her wallet for the pleasure.  I think if she really wanted to be noticed she could made more of an effort in her attire, although at least the bandanna around her neck was red with white polka-dots so perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. 

I could go in, but I won’t. I can only say what a day. Definitely a winner and it will certainly go down as one to remember. 


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