What is Doma Menorquina you may ask. Well it is the native style of dressage. It’s similar to normal dressage in the sense that it is still a horse and rider doing a little dance but it differs in the following ways:
- The horse can only be a Menorcan stallion. This type of stallion is a breed of horse that is native to the island and is usually between 15 to 16 hand in height. Most tend to be black but there are a few chestnut and greys, but not many.
- There is usually rearing involved. When these horses are broken and being trained they are taught from a young age how to rear on command (this means standing only on their hind leg and keeping their front legs up and outwards). Locally the term for this is “Bot“.
- The tack used. The tack that the riders use is also fairly different. Due to the rearing they can not use English saddle, they use a specially designed saddle that has a raised cantle and a raised pommel (it basically has a raised back and front in the hopes of preventing someone from simply sliding off the saddle whilst the horse rears)
The bridle that they use is also a lot tougher, especially the bit.
Doma Menorquina is not always performed in an arena. During the summer months, usually on the weekends, these riders take their horse out onto the streets to celebrate Sant Joan, Saint John, in Ciutadella (23–24 June) and Mare de Déu de Gràcia, the Birth of Mary, in Mahón (September 8–9). There are other celebration in between but these two are the main ones. Usually up to 150 riders take part. These celebrations are known as the “Fiestas”. People are allowed to get in the arena or designated space with the horse to try to touch the horse’s heart as it is rearing, this is considered good luck.
Personally, I do not have much interest in taking part in the “fiestas” but my older brother has been doing it since he was thirteen years old. He loves it, but he is a true Menorcan at heart. I think for now I will stick to English Saddle.