The Blessing of the Horses

San Miguel de Allende is one celebration after another, especially at this time of year. Last weekend was La Alborada, celebrating San Miguel’s patron saint with fireworks, dancing, parades, music and things I can’t even describe. One of the most beautiful of La Alborada’s events is the Blessing of the Horses and I was there on a horse.

For the Blessing of the Horses, hundreds of cowboys and horses make a pilgrimage from San Miguel’s countryside to the city for a special outdoor mass at the City’s iconic Parroquia. I had attended the event in 2019, horseless, and promised myself I would be there one day as a rider. So this year, I rode with my friend Manon and two experienced cowboys, Catalino and Reyes, on horses from Beth Kaestner’s stable.

Photo by Beth Kaestner

Our pilgrimage started before sunrise near Boca de Canada, about 20 miles from San Miguel. I rode Sanctuario, a big palomino stallion. Manon was on Chocolate. At the beginning of the ride, our group leader, Don Reyes, gave a short blessing, reminding me that this was not a ride for sport or entertainment, but reverence.

No one spoke as we crossed the peaceful countryside, passing small villages and corn fields and haciendas. The horses remained quiet when a freight train blasted through a few feet away. Our group of four was the furthest from town, so we picked up riders along the way. After a few hours, there were almost 100 of us when we arrived at a park where more than a thousand other horses would join us, coming from other parts of the countryside. At the park, we enjoyed a delicious taco lunch prepared by local residents while the horses rested in the adjacent field. Feeling energized, we got back on our horses. Don Reyes gave another blessing as we joined the procession for the hour-long ride to El Jardin, San Miguel’s main square.

The procession was lead by a group of horseless people with banners. We heard music and chanting and the horses’ hooves hitting the cobblestones. Thousands of residents and tourists lined the streets to watch the horses calmly and quietly make their way into town.

We were among the first to arrive in the square and found a place in front of the church where the priest would perform the mass. Behind us, horses continued to make their way into the square for an hour, and then stood quietly as the priest gave the blessing. There was something truly religious there, to be among 1500 powerful, sensitive animals behaving as if they knew they were the center of something solemn and important.

After the mass, I gave Sanctuario a hug, and handed his reins to Catalino who would take him back home. I am not a cowboy or Mexican or Catholic or a horse, but that day I was all of these.

33 comments

  1. What a blessing and memorable pilgrimage especially for you Kim. This is a truly remarkable event. It must have been amazing to be one with and among all those calm horses and respectful people. Sigh….

  2. Kim, love this festival. Have seen it a few times, but how wonderful to experience it on horseback. Gaily

  3. fabulous
    Especially fun to read as i have both been to San Miguel Allende AND attended (not on horse) a similar festival in Seville, Spain

  4. What a beautiful ceremony and the silience during the ride must have been wonderful! Would love to see that one day. Greetings from Germany

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