As Rías Baixas at a gallop
Upon arrival in Vigo, you will know you are entering the true heart of the city as soon as you see in the distance the sculptural group The horses by Juan José Oliveira, in the praza de España. The use of this animal in his works is recurring. He is responsible for its presence on the façade of the theatre García Barbón in Vigo, and he is also the author of the monument of the life-sized wild horses that overlook the Miño River from the pedestrian walkway in the town of Tui.
There are traditions in As Rías Baixas that are bound to the equine world and they have become true festivals of International Tourist Interest. The taming of wild horses, which announces the arrival of warm weather and is at its peak in Sabucedo (A Estrada). It is popularly known as curro or rapa das bestas. The province of Pontevedra takes the biscuit regarding the number of towns that celebrate this festivity on Sundays from May to August. Apart from Sabucedo, it is celebrated in Valga, Torroña and Mougás (Oia), in Morgadáns and Donas (Gondomar), in Amil (Moraña), in Castelo Hill (Cotobade) and in A Paradanta (A Cañiza).
Some of these festivities are consecrated to saints, while others are lively secular celebrations. The fact is that, every year, the rapas or curros gather a larger number of people, who are attracted by the spectacle of the human being (aloitadoras–feminine–and aloitadores–masculine–; these are the Galician terms for the female and male "fighters" that grab and trim the manes of the horses during this event) facing the animal (wild horses that have roamed freely in the woods the rest of the year). These animals are herded downhill and fenced inside the so-called curros, which are stone structures or wooden fences, where the animals crowd together surrounded by hundreds of curious onlookers. There, the horses are freed from parasites, their tails and manes are trimmed, and the new specimens are microchipped. Finally, they are tamed among the cheers of the crowd in a spectacular hand to hand struggle between the human being and the animal which is captured in wonderful photographs every year.
In As Rías Baixas you can find wild horses roaming freely in many woods such as the recreational areas of Chan da Lagoa (Baiona) and Chan da Arquiña (Moaña), the Cotorredondo Nature Park (Marín) or the lookout of Morañó (Campo Lameiro). In these and other spaces close to urban areas, there are several riding centres, riding arenas or adventure travel companies that allow for organising various kinds of activities such as equestrian baptism, routes of different duration and suited to your level, horse riding lessons or walking trips through nature parks or tourist interest areas.
Equestrian tourism companies:
- Picadero A Lagoa, en Marín.
- Club de Equitación Cemar, Mondariz-Balneario.
- Club hípico San Cosme, Mos.
- Picadero O Rancho, en Oia.
- Yeguada Los Castaños, en Poio.
- Hípica A Rabadeira, en Pontecaldelas.
- Hípica La Atalaya, en Sanxenxo.
Calendar of ancestral equestrian festivities (curros or rapas das bestas):
- Second Sunday of May: Valga (Oia)
- First Sunday of June: Torroña (Oia)
- Second Sunday of June: Mougás (Oia)
- Third Sunday of June: Morgadáns (Gondomar)
- Last Sunday of June: San Cibrán (Donas, Gondomar)
- First Weekend of July: Sabucedo (A Estrada)
- Second Sunday of July: Amil (Moraña)
- Second Sunday of July: Monte Castelo (Cotobade)
- Fisrt Sunday after 15 August: A Escusa (Poio)
- Last Sunday of August: A Paradanta (A Cañiza)
- First Weekend of August: Cuspedriños (Cotobade)
For further information about these festivities, click on the following link:
Learn how to ride a horse in natural sites in As Rías Baixas or practise horse-riding with a mount that suits your level if you are previous experience. Get away from the everyday life following unpolluted and noise-free routes. Discover lookouts walk along part of the Way of Saint James or fulfil almost impossible dreams such as galloping along a beach at sunset.