Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Horses are a familiar sight around Suchitoto, especially on the country roads, so I wasn't surprised to hear hooves clopping by the house last Saturday - but when it was dozens of hooves clopping I ran to the window and found lots of horses, and their riders, moving past my house.
I've been sure that there would have to be some version of a rodeo here, some games involving horses in this Latin country, so I followed the trail of the horses and found a competition under way on the grounds of the Casa de la Cultura. There was a rope strung up at a level just above the heads of the riders, and what looked for all the world like red plastic clothespins were hanging from the rope. The goal was to grab a clothespin (or whatever it may have been) at full gallop, and this turned out to be pretty hard to do. Each rider took a turn, spurring his horse to a gallop (I'm sorry to say the riders were all men, and my friend Doña Ana confirmed that only men ride - at least in these games), lifting his hand as he approached the rope and grabbing for the prize. Prizes -wrapped gifts - were awarded to all who came away with a clothespin.
This was great fun to watch and great fun to try to photograph - try being the necessary word, because I came back with about 56 photos of blurs, tails, noses and dustclouds. The one horse I got a half-way decent photo of wasn't moving fast, thank goodness: this beautiful white horse had clearly been well schooled, probably in dressage, and both horse and rider were a joy to watch.
The horses I've seen in El Salvador are small and neatly built, not unlike the American mustang, perhaps a close relative (though the information I've found on the web deals mostly with South American horses). Some of the racers were working horses, some were weekend horses - you could tell, pretty much, by the tack and saddles - and they were all a joy to watch.