This weekend there was a spring festival in our village. I think St. Chaptes either has strong ties to the manade community or they really like to drink – because we often have the abrivados in our village. This weekend there were two abrivados each day and 2 bandidos each night, and in between, very cheap aperitifs. This meant a lot of whoo hahers, (my affectionate term for drunken yellers).
The horses are simply wonderful. And while I understand the bull is the main event, I go for the horses. Their thundering hooves, extraordinary colouring and incredible work ethic make for in unbelievable display of Provencal tradition.
It all begins for bystanders to choose a spot on the street to stand. The horses and bulls are stationed at the arena, just on the outskirts of town. A bull is released from the truck and two or three riders encourage / goad the bull through a route in the village. The young men run after the bull and attempt to stop it through sheer force.
Most of the bulls this weekend had their horns blunted and wrapped in leather. This prevents goring but doesn’t really take away the physical threat that the bull possesses.
When the riders and bulls approach from down the street, the suspense quickly builds. From relative quiet, the air quickly fills with the sound of pounding of hooves on the pavement and the shouts of communication between riders and runners.
The thrill of the event is in the closeness to the animals, the suspense of waiting for the galloping horses and the unpredictable nature of the bulls. In spite of all the boozy boys, filled with adrenaline and testosterone, the thrill of danger combined with the mastery of man over nature, causes even the calmest of hearts to pound.