Todos Santos - Horse Racing
The most famous events of the Todos Santos fiesta is the horse race. During the days preceding the race, the competitors celebrate, dance, and drink a lot of alcohol. In addition, they are dressed with flamboyant garments to impress the spectator. The origin of this race goes back to the Spanish Conquest. The Spanish had forbidden the Mayas from riding horses. To demonstrate opposition to this rule, the people started this horse racing tradition.
Parade of the Riders and Their Horse
The day before the race, the riders parade on the central plaza under a huge crowd of onlookers. Several contestants can be seen with a beer in hand, and a bottle of strong alcohol is passed among each rider. The goal is to introduce oneself to the public.
The goal of the race is not to arrive first at the finish line. You will see that starts and finishes are rather chaotic and unclear. What is the goal then? Simply to be the last man standing on its horse at the end of the day. Groups of riders perform round trip on a small circuit of about 500 metres, and they try to remain in the saddle as well as they can.
During the hours and days preceding the race, the riders have drank and danced a lot, even during the race, alcohol is still passed around. A tired and drunk man is bound to eventually fell from his horse. Several of them don't even have experience riding a horse, and for many of them, the horse is rented from a local peasant. Add the fact that the horse, after some hours, become tired and aggressive, the chance of being ejected from the saddle greatly improve.
It is often said that a drunk man is never hurt. It may be partly true, but in the case of this race, falling from a few metres high and possibly being thrown in the fence may cause serious injuries or even death. In both cases, it's a rare occurrence, but it has already happened.
Why race then? For honour. There is no prize for victory.