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Shearing of the Beasts – “Rapa das Bestas”

Shearing of the Beasts – “Rapa das Bestas”

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The Shearing of the Beasts or “La Rapa das Bestas” as the Spanish call it,  is held every year  in the first week of July in the village of Sabucedo in Spain. It is a 400-year-old traditional festival and the focus of the noble conflict is between man and horse. During the festival, young men from Sabucedo and its surrounding area (Pontevedra in Galicia) meet in the early morning to go in to the mountains. Once there they find wild horses, which they round up and guide into an arena of sorts called the Corral of Sabucedo, where they are sheared and branded.

rapa das bestas in Sabucedo Spain

"Aloitadores" holding the "beast"

At dusk, all the villagers meet to dine delicious food, wine and make music. The “Rapa das Bestas” in Sabucedo draws more visitors to this village every year. The men are divided into groups and move in search of the horses through the mountains. Once the wild horses are discovered, they are rounded up and guided towards the village. Finally, all rounded up and in the arena the cutting of the mane begins. To do this there are two “aloitadores” (mane shearers) at the head of the animal and another one at the tail of the animal. First, one of the men standing at the head of the horse will try to get on the horse, while the man standing at the tail will try to bring the animal out of balance. Then the second “aloitadores” will try to get on the horse while forcing the first one off the animal. The shearing of the horses mane is associated with complex maneuvers and a real battle between man and animal.

Rapa das Bestas, Spain

Rapa das Bestas, Spain

This year’s festivals was held on the 5th of July and is generally a very brutal event. I’m all for traditions and preserving them, but this particular one seems a bit cruel and should be banned. I mean just look at what they are doing to the poor animals, they jump on them, grab them by whatever they can and try to immobilize them to cut their tales and tag them. This is medieval stuff!

Shearing of the "beast"

Shearing of the "beast" (c)jpereira.net

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