Riding through Fire in the Las Luminarias Festival


On January 16, riders in the village of San Bartolomé de Pinares in Spain celebrate Saint Anthony the Abbot on the eve of his feast day.

During the Luminarias festival, horses are ridden near and even through bonfires in a symbolic act of purification and protection, a tradition that dates back to the time of the great plague.

The Daily Mail reports that locals insist the horses and riders are never hurt. The horses are soaked down before their riders point them toward the flames and their tails are wrapped to reduce the chance that they could catch fire. Rider falls aren’t uncommon as some horses refuse to jump the flames.

Animal welfare groups have protested the practice due to the danger and stress it puts on the horses. But the centuries-old tradition continues.

On the following day, pet owners bring their animals to church to be blessed by a priest as part of the feast of Saint Anthony, according to International Business Times.

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Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, KY.Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.


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