JEREZ de la Frontera is hosting the 2016 Horse Fair until May 7.
The event, known as ‘Feria del Caballo’ in Spanish, is traditionally held in the first week of May and widely considered to be the second most important fair in Andalucia, after the April Feria in Sevilla.
Riders from around the globe are expected to visit this inherently Andalucian event and flock to the Hontoria Fairgrounds in Jerez, occupying a massive 52,000 square metres.
This is where horse shows and equestrian exhibitions will take place, as well as musical events, flamenco and numerous booths with traditional Spanish food and, of course, sherry, the famous fortified wine that is synonymous with the Andalucian city.
The history of the fair dates back to the Middle Ages, during the reign of Alfonso X, El Sabio (The Wise), who was King of Castile from 1252 to 1284. It was originally one of two livestock fairs that took place in April and September so that traders and farmers could buy and sell animals, mainly horses. Allegedly, they would then drink sherry to celebrate the deals.
And it is no wonder that they celebrated with vigour; the Crown had granted a tax exemption for equine dealers, a practice which was then adapted by other horse fairs during the exceptional period of growth for this industry in Medieval Spain.
Now, over 700 years later, the Jerez Horse Fair is one of only a handful on the Spanish peninsular that currently holds an important cattle trade fair parallel to its magnificent horse show.