Among the Cowboys of Mallorca

To most Europeans the island of Mallorca is known as a destination for party-dwellers, last minute weekend boozing escapes, and as a place basically colonialized by German expats and tourists. While that is certainly partly true, the island of Mallorca and its inhabitants have its own, very unique identity, culture, and history.

A few weeks ago, when visiting family friends, I was fortunate enough to experience the island from a completely different perspective than most tourists have the chance to – and with that one certain subculture: horse riders, or “Los caubóis”.
Horseriding is a big tradition on Mallorca. Many of the Fincas, the Mallorquin countryside houses and cottage, often own at least a couple of horses. When having walks in the inland villages, you will often encounter horseback riders. While there, I got to see a cattle herding championship – the fastest team of cowboys to single out a certain numbered cow from a herd would win, and there even was a jury and referees from the mainland rating the performance. The atmosphere surrounding the event was very Texan: Country music , a bar appropriately named “Saloon”, and outfits straight from spaghetti westerns. The competitors were mostly men, and their supporters, their wives, were standing by the fences.

At the herding competition Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
At the herding competition
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
A Cowboy Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
A Cowboy
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
Spectators at the herding competition Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
Spectators at the herding competition
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
A Cowboy Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
A Cowboy
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
Entering the competition grounds Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
Entering the competition grounds
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
Herding cattle Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
Herding cattle
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
Herding cattle Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
Herding cattle
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
Herding cattle Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
Herding cattle
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
The Saloon Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
The Saloon
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
On another occasion, we went into the sea with horses. Strange as it felt, the animals seemed to enjoy it. They kept making neighing noises, were drooling and jumping around, but didn’t seem to mind the salty water at all. Very soon a crowd had gathered, fully equipped with smart phones, camcorders and photo cameras, making sure that our trip would surely land on the net somewhere among someone’s holiday clips.
Horse by the truck Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
Horse by the truck
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
Horses in the Sea Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
Horses in the Sea
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
A curious crowd Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
A curious crowd
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
Horseriders in the Sea Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
Horseriders in the Sea
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
Horseriders in the Sea Leica M6, Ilford HP4+
Horseriders in the Sea
Leica M6, Ilford FP4+
All images were taken with a Leica M6, Summicron 35mm F2 lens, on Ilford FP4+ (ISO 125).

My experience with the horses was unfortunately over very quick. However, it was truly unique and memorable. Soon following will be a post about Mallorca’s inland villages, and the town of Inca.

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