A Rapa das Bestas

In the mountains on Galicia, during the first weekend in July, in the tiny town of Sabucedo, you’ll find strong men and women gathering wild horses from the mountains and bringing them to town to care for them in A Rapa das Bestas. The tradition started 500 years ago when all of Europe, including Galicia was suffering from the plague. Two women prayed to their saint, Lorenzo, to heal the town in return for two horses who would be set free. The town was saved, and the horses were freed to live in the wild. Since then, the mountains of the surrounding area are home to herds of beautiful wild horses.

The fiesta is an incredible tradition of man versus beast, full of fury, force, strength and beauty. The horses, which spend the year living in the wild, are herded to the village by men and women of the village in the mornings of the fiesta. During the day of the Rapa the horses are brought into corral and in the midst of the galloping nervous horses, the men and women use their strength and skill to wrestle the horses to the ground with their bare hands to cut their manes and tails and brand the foals. Although it can appear to be violent toward the horses, the Rapa is a yearly tradition to care for the hygiene of wild horses of the area.
The tradition won’t be lost any time soon; the town is proud of its heritage and taking part in the Rapa is an honor passed down from generation to generation in Sabucedo. The Rapa attracts hundreds of tourists from all over the world converting the surrounding hills into makeshift campgrounds and filling the village streets with the delicious smells of churrasco and pulpo (Galician barbeque and Octopus). We had the chance to see the Rapa a few years ago and it is like nothing I’d ever seen before – at first I was taken aback by the strength of the men and the nerves of the horses, but as you see the skill and care toward the horses it becomes a show of the strength and beauty of the horses. Don’t miss the chance to see the Rapa if you will be in Galicia at the start of July. Make a day of it and enjoy some famous Galician octopus and barbecue while you admire the beautiful views. And, don’t forget your hat, sunscreen, and camera!

The Rapa falls on the first weekend of July from Saturday to Monday.

A ticket to watch from the amphitheatre of the corral will cost about 10 euros and each corral lasts about two hours.

The easiest way to get to the Rapa is by car, but you could check bus schedules to the towns around San Lorenzo de Sabucedo and get a taxi from there if a car or rental car isn’t available.

6 thoughts on “A Rapa das Bestas

  1. Looks like so much fun. Heading to Spain myself in July – only to Barcelona, but it’s the first time in 15 years, so I’ll take what I can get.

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