A hand to hand fight: this is the ancient tradition in which aloitadoras and aloitadores (people in charge of holding on the horses while they are shorn) and horses meet in the Curro do Campo do Medio, in Sabucedo, A Estrada. According to the legend, two sisters offered Saint Lawrence, the patron saint of the village, two manes, so as people in the town would be freed from the plague. The saint made their wish come true and thus, the festival of Rapa das Bestas was born. Centuries later, this celebration, considered Festival of International Tourist Interest, is held every year in early July.
The curro of Sabucedo is considered the most popular in the world. It stands out from all the rest because it forbids the use of sticks or any other tool, and horses are tamed only using human strength.
This tradition has been part of the neighbours' everyday life. From a very young age, they help the aloitadoras and aloitadores in the curro, but at the beginning they use colts. Moreover, among the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages, there is a deep-rooted tradition of visiting Sabucedo during these days. They help to herd the horses in the nearby forests. These people have guided the mares and horses towards the village for ages.
This task, traditionally carried out on Saturdays, is now performed on Fridays and so, the weekend can be devoted to the curro, which is usually sold out. Regardless the weather, the stands are always full and the queues are endless, but this amazing show is worth it.
In the curro, the manes of the mares and horses are shorn and the animals are deloused. First, the colts are separated from their mothers and they are driven to a different space by the youngest participants. The applause seems to be louder when the horses fight each other, an image which is known worldwide. Once they have been shorn, the animals are guided to a different place where they will rest until they are driven to the hills.
On Mondays there is another curro. This time the money raised is intended for charity. Towards noon, the celebration comes to an end when the popular herds of Sabucedo are driven to their home: the hills in A Estrada.
Camping, rural tourism and family picnics
Apart from spending the night in one of the holiday cottages in the area, included in the package tour TuriRapa offered by the Mar de Compostela association, Sabucedo gives visitors the possibility to go camping and enjoy this tradition. Every year, some areas are specially set up for this purpose. They are free and fully equipped with showers and restrooms.
It is also common to see groups of families and friends having a picnic around the curro. Here, other establishments can be found, such as the typical pulperías (outdoor restaurants where the traditional Galician octopus recipe is prepared and served).
Galician culture has also been present at the Rapa das Bestas, especially at the Rapasóns festival, which includes the performances of different bands. In the surroundings, visitors can enjoy the tour of the water mills of the Vesacarballa River. This is a short path of great beauty where several traditional water mills, recently restored, can be admired. Bridges, a saw mill, open for the public during these days, the water mills and a range of water canals are some of the sights that can be enjoyed along the way.