Tuesday, 8 October 2013 12:36 PM
Last weekend I got to see something here in Granada which I’ve been wanting to see for a very long time – the famous dancing horses of the Royal Andalucían School of Equestrian Art.
Approaching Granada’s grand Plaza del Toros – like a modern version of Rome’s Colosseum – I could barely contain my excitement as locals of all ages headed towards the ring, wearing their finest and fully prepared with cushions, snacks and drinks.
Besides the flamenco, the beaches and the romantic architecture, southern Spain is well known for its Andalucían horse breeds and equestrian styles, and there is nowhere better to experience these than at the famous Royal Andalucían School of Equestrian Art in Jerez de la Frontera, just north of Cadiz.
Luckily for me, it was the school’s 40th anniversary and they were organising a special anniversary show, touring the bullrings of Andalucía, so I didn’t even have to go as far as Jerez to see them.
The show began with a blast of Disney-esque music which was emitted from the loudspeakers and eight proud Andalucían horses pranced into the ring, their manes plaited neatly, each hoof moving to the beat in perfect unison.
The riders sat tall and proud, wearing brown chaps and wide brimmed hats; their bodies moving with the horses so that they almost seemed like they were one. They began with what to me seemed a kind of Scottish country dance, weaving in and out of each other, moving round in circles and paring up to prance down the centre of the ring, always perfectly on time and never a hoof out of place. They even moved diagonally across the ring, expertly crossing their hooves backwards and forwards as they went.
The second ‘dance’ consisted of just one horse and rider – a beautiful bay coloured stallion with an elegant arched neck and a rider carrying a long wooden lance. Walking slowly and kicking one leg out in front of the other, the horse moved as the lance was twizzled gracefully in the air. When the lance came down, the horse circled it and where it moved the horse followed – it was as if the horse and the lance were dancing partners – interlacing, embracing and twirling into each other’s spaces.
The highlight of the show for much of the crowd came in the second act, where the horses – without the riders – performed a series of kicks and leaps into the air to an animated cheers from the spectators. They even reared up, standing on their hind legs for a few minutes at a time, in a Black Beauty style pose.
By the end, the whole plaza was on its feet clapping along to the music, while the horses, who clearly revelled in all the attention, began to almost skip around the ring, followed by a gallop from one end to the other, before coming to an abrupt halt to bow in front of the audience.
Info on visiting the Fundación Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre in Jerez:
Besides the actual horses, the school contains a number of other interesting attractions for tourists, namely the Carriage Museum and the Museum of Equestrian Arts where you can learn about the Andalucían horse breed and how the horse are trained. Visitors can also see the saddlery, the stables and the Palace rooms.
Tours of the school cost from €6.50 – €11 for adults and from €4.50 – €6.50 for children depending on length and how many aspects of the school you want to see.
The horse shows take place on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 12 noon and cost from €21 – €27 and from €13 – €17 for children. Tickets can be booked online at: www.realescuela.org.