Sunday, August 21, 2016

Spanish Life {Beach Horse Racing}

So I could easily make this a day trip adventure as well... but since we just made it a late afternoon/evening adventure -- we will keep it at the cultural aspect.

I had no idea what to expect when we set off on this adventure.  I am not the biggest fan of the beach (I really dislike sand) and with a toddler who loves to throw (and eat) sand -- it can easily turn into a not so fun event for me.  But we live in a beach town, so I am getting better...  And I ended up thoroughly enjoying the day!

A little background/history on the horse racing (because, you know I love a good history lesson).  The races take place in a town about 20-30 minutes away from us, Sanlucar de Barrameda.  They only occur on two weekends in August (usually the 2nd and 4th weekends).  Technically, we watched the 176th running of the horses, however, they have been going on (unofficially) for much much longer.  It is a huge event for those living in and around Sanlucar but also tourists -- people come from all over to watch the races.  And yes, just like any other horse racing event, there is betting (more on that later).  The races don't start until after 6:00pm and there are usually only 3-4 heats of races, with one race about every hour.

So knowing that the races start much later in the day, we didn't head out to Sanlucar until about 4:00pm.  This allowed us to make sure Serafina had a good nap since we knew we'd be out late.  We packed our beach gear and a picnic dinner -- and off we went with two other families.  It was already PACKED when we arrived, most people camp out at the beach all day to get the best seats -- right on the "fence" line (basically caution tape keeping people back from the races -- but everyone can play in the water until the races start).  But we were able to get a decent spot.  The first race didn't start until after 7:00pm so we just hung out on the beach, played in the water and ate dinner...

Then as time approached we saw kids (think 10-14 year olds) set up homemade booths that were often very adorably decorated.  This is where you place your bets!*  Yes, the children are taking your bets -- and it was amazing!  At these various booths, no one bets more than two euros and the lowest bet is usually 20-30 euro cents.  It's not complicated betting -- pick the horse you want to win (yes, there are even programs that are passed out earlier in the evening).  The best part of betting is that you get these adorable handmade trinkets depending on the amount you bet.  And sometimes you even get a piece of candy just for betting!
No pictures of the booths -- I couldn't get a great shot that didn't include the kids and I just felt creepy taking pictures of others' kids and then posting them here without permission -- nope.  So just do your best to imagine these cardboard booths and adorable children who loved practicing their English skills with us!

Once you are done betting -- you usually bet at various booths so you can get different trinkets -- you run back to your spot and stand, squished in, along with everyone else on the beach to watch the races!  Everyone is cheering and yelling and so very excited.  It's all over in the blink of an eye.... only to be repeated in another hour!  This is when you get to relax, go claim your prize money (we were too lazy to do this), make more bets and just hang out.

The races were fast and exciting.  The first race, one of the horses got hurt right in front of our spot.  The crowd was silent while the jockey and others soothed the horse, put a brace on it's leg and got it safely into a trailer.  The crowd erupted in cheer when the horse made its way into the trailer.  Before the second race, a horse ran away without it's rider all the way down the beach -- it was hilarious and once again the crowd went wild!  We only stayed for two races because it was well past bedtime by the time the second race was over....

runway horse
I know I say this about everything we have done in Spain, but seriously -- this was one of the coolest things we have done.  It was such a family friendly event and so much fun.  Serafina is currently obsessed with animals, horses included (which she calls "biyo" because she can't quite say caballo -- the Spanish word) and oh man was she sad after each race.  Crying and crying for the "biyos" to come back.  It was so adorable and so pathetic at the same time -- poor thing!  Pretty sure we will be going back to this event each summer!

*So there is a VIP section with bleachers, tents and "big girl" betting but pretty sure you have to pay to get into that area and it can't be nearly as fun as being on the beach partying with everyone, placing bets with kids and then watching the horse races in your bathing suit as the sun sets!

1 comment :

  1. Great description and history lesson. I can just imagine you there!


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