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La Saca de las Yeguas, (Separating the Mares), an age-old tradition in a unique setting

Cultura Saca de las Yeguas El Rocío Almonte (8).JPG

Tradition, culture and passion for horses all join together in this not-to-be-missed event. A genuine, natural, wild spectacle… without rehearsals!

Every year on 26 June, Almonte prepares to receive more than a thousand mares and their colts, which have spent the winter living in semi-wild state in the marshes in the Doñana National ParkA tradition which has now become a fiesta to be celebrated and which enables us to discover an authentic equestrian spectacle.

Livestock breeders from different parts of the region make their way to Rocío and the marshes to herd up the horses and prepare them for the Saca de las Yeguas. You'll be surprised to see the wagon trains, in the best traditions of the wild west.

However long or short the journey, there'll always be guitars and Flamenco to accompany them on their way.

El Rocío will not leave you indifferent, with its streets covered with sand and the continuous activity of authentic cowboys on horseback. A town where you'll see that the main means of transport is the horse, which clashes totally with our way of life.

From the early hours of the morning, the streets begin to fill up with people getting ready for the arrival of the horses. Excitement waiting for them to arrive!

As we approach the Plaza de la Ermita, the terraces and travelling bars reflect the joyful. festive atmosphere and here you'll find plenty of sherry or "rebujito" (sherry with lemonade) and aperitifs of ham, with touches of Flamenco in the background.

Don't forget your cowboy hat to protect you against the sun, and join in this festival in the best Wild West tradition.

The "yagüerizos”, as they call the cowboys and herders leading the mares and colts, approach El Rocío. They cross the so-called "Boca del Lobo” (Wolf's Mouth), and proceed along the village streets until they reach the Plaza de la Ermita.

They only use their voices and a cane called a "chivata" to control this great herd of semi-wild horses and to herd them into the square to receive a blessing before continuing on to Almonte.

The horses soon begin to make their presence felt, our senses are awoken by a mixture of sensations with the appearance of the dust, as well as the heat and the particular aroma given off by the animals.

Appreciating the power and brute animal force so close yet totally under the control of the herders is a very special feeling. In spite of its semi-wild life, the horses demonstrate their nobility and obedience to man.

You can feel the din of their galloping reverberate beneath your feet as they carry on towards Almonte, taking leave of the Virgen del Rocío as they pass by the Shrine.

Before doing so, they receive the traditional blessing from the priest as they pass. They will continue towards Almonte where on arrival they will be branded and prepared for the livestock fair.

From the Plaza, on looking backwards our senses are surprised to contemplate a static scenario, quite the opposite of what we have been observing in the square: the marshes

There, the flamingos are unaffected by what is happening just a few metres away.

The earth, flattened by thousands of footsteps, is now retraced by the cowboys and herds on their way back from a hard but festive day of work

At the doorways to the houses and bars you will see that the horses and their riders have a space reserved for them. A genuine parking place for horses.

Without getting off their horses, the day continues and the festivities begin on horseback with conversations, laughter, singing and sherry.

A ride in a horse-drawn carriage alongside the marshes and through the streets of El Rocío, where you'll see the peculiarities of each Brotherhood centre, will be the perfect finish to an equestrian day.

Without losing sight of the landscape of the marshes in this incomparable natural environment.

Have you put this event down in your agenda so you won't miss it?

La Saca de las Yeguas, (Separating the Mares), an age-old tradition in a unique setting
Almonte, El Rocío (Huelva)