Rapa das Bestas: Spain’s Insane Horse Wrestling Festival



Image: jose pereira

The sound of neighs and whinnies fills the jam-packed corral, a centuries-old stone amphitheater. Dust flies through the air as men grapple to keep control of what seems like a sea of horses – a seething mass of animals numbering in their hundreds.


Image: jose pereira

There are not many activities that pit man against beast in such visceral fashion, but Rapa das Bestas (meaning “cropping the beasts”) is certainly one of them. In this 400-year-old Spanish tradition, men wrestle horses to the ground with nothing more than their bare hands in many cases. First, however, they must catch the animals.

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