It may be best known as a family friendly destination for a beach holiday, but Menorca has much more to offer than just golden sands and luxury villas. Menorca’s distinctive culture is a large part of the attraction of the island, with a turbulent history, delicious cuisine and very hospitable islanders creating a very different holiday experience to most Mediterranean islands. But if there is one essential icon of Menorcan culture, it is the breed of horse that is native to the country…
The Horses of Menorca – A Breed Apart
Menorcan horses are renowned as one of the finest breeds in the world. Tall, slender and entirely black in colouring, they are vigorously trained and disciplined to an exacting standard. According to local tradition, the horses were considered vital to the security of the vulnerable island in the 14th century – riders were stationed along the coastline, ready to report as soon as they saw an enemy sail. They were bred for speed and agility to cover the rocky ground of the island at pace, and this process has continued over the years to produce some truly magnificent animals.
Today, they are most famous for the spectacle they provide at the various fiestas of Menorca, where they lead parades doing their signature trick – standing and walking on their hind legs. These fiestas are the best time to see the horses at work on a holiday in Menorca, through various horse shows at held throughout the island every week (such as at Club Escola Menorquina).
Horse Riding for Visitors
If you aren’t content with watching the horses on your holiday to Menorca, there are plenty of opportunities to ride them yourself, no matter what your level of experience. Riding clubs are scattered across the island – Equimar near Es Castell, Piadero Binixica just outside San Clement, or Stables Farm near Cala’n Porter are all options, providing horses and guides to visitors on their Menorca holidays.
There are plenty of paths and tracks on the island, and with a predominantly flat landscape Menorca is a delight to explore on horse back. The most famous and rewarding trail to follow is the ‘Cami de Cavalls’, ‘The Path of Horses’ that rings the entire circumference of the island. This is the path that was originally used by the horseback guards of Menorca to patrol the island, and gives you access to some of the most stunning coastal scenery the island has to offer. Or head into the rolling hills and vibrant countryside of the interior for a very different horse riding experience – you’ll find plenty of routes to choose from on your holiday in Menorca.
While many visitors rarely stray from their villas in Menorca, the horses of the island are an essential sight to see. Whether you just want to enjoy the spectacle at a horse show or fiesta, or explore the spectacular scenery of the island on the back of a trusted steed, make sure you don’t miss out on the horses of Menorca!