Monday, 15 January 2018

Sant Antoni

I had butterflies in my stomach as I cleaned my long, leather boots. They hadn't been worn since my competing days on a large ginger thoroughbred horse in England - it felt like a lifetime ago. The bridles were sparkling, the numnahs freshly washed and I awoke far too early, excited about the day ahead.

For today was our horses debut. Not competing in dressage arenas or flying cross-country, but to parade the streets of Calvia in a procession towards the church - for all the animals of the village to be blessed by the priest. Today was the festival of Sant Antoni, Saint Anthony, who lived as a hermit from 251 to 356. Legend has it he once cured a terminally ill black piglet and now on the closest Sunday to the patron's day, animals are blessed in Saint Anthony's name.

We brushed their coats, combed their manes and oiled their hooves. They knew something was up and fidgeted as we got ready, the excitement building in their blood.

As we gathered in the town hall car park, the horses began shitting freely without the fear of fines and the intensity began to build. The pipes started playing, tractors arrived adorned with ivy-strewn carts full of little children dressed in traditional Mallorquin clothes. There were lambs and goats, dogs of every colour and breed, a very lame donkey and a few horses and riders. Kira's body shook as she took in the scene; the waving balloons, the dancing children, the swinging sausages from the carts and the sheer enormity of it all. She stood proud, eyes on stalks as Spot the pony jig-jogged in excitement, throwing his head about to the pain of his rider. 

As the procession began we wandered through the village, people taking photos and making lovely compliments about the horses, I felt ridiculously proud. Even a little emotional. Kira is the horse who has galloped down roads with me in fright into oncoming traffic, she has pinned me against walls and smashed my hand, stood on my toes, snorted in fear at plastic bags and spins and fights to go home - and now here she was walking calm, noble and impressive as though she knew it was an important occasion. As we waited for the priest to bless her, she kicked out at Spot to bloody well behave himself,  to the 'oohs and the aahs' of the crowd.

It was a truly magical moment.

....and Spot even made it into the islands paper the next morning. Fame at last little pony!

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