A TRADITION of spurring horses to jump across 20 blazing bonfires has been revived after a COVID outbreak, and not everyone is happy.
Las Luminarias, which celebrates the Spanish patron saint of animals, San Antón, returned after the COVID-19 pandemic last year, but with pandemic restrictions still in place.
This year, the 200-year event saw 120 horses and donkeys roam the cobbled streets of the town of San Bartolomé de Pinares, near Ávila, without such restrictions.
The strange ritual is in memory of a devastating epidemic that wiped out much of the area’s cattle and horses.
All images of Cordon Press
The smoke from the bonfires of the bonfires is intended to scare away evil spirits.
For an event that celebrates animal welfare, it has sparked controversy over the way horses are treated.
The National Association for the Protection and Welfare of Animals annually required that horses only ride past the bonfires to inhale the ‘purifying’ smoke, rather than ride between them, a measure backed by the council.
But many of the riders ignore official advice and charge through the flames.
Organizers said no horses were harmed during this year’s hour-long celebration. Precautions were also taken such as cutting the hair of the horses to avoid burning the animals.
Horse owners and riders had to be officially registered and take out liability insurance.