The National Horse Fair is held in Golegã every year, for the period of 10 days in November. During this time, the usually quiet town transforms into a lively horsey hub. It is a spectacle like no other in the world, and we recommend that every horse person puts this visit on their bucket list.
Golegã is home to some of Portugal’s most famous stud farms; it is often referred to as the “Capital of Horses”. In the middle of the town, a large riding arena is found and the arena itself is surrounded by the ‘manga’. Every Portuguese person, who has the opportunity, brings his or her horse. So both day and night, the manga tends to be filled with ridden and driven horses.
The days are spent watching top competitions in all disciplines, model and gait competitions, and various shows and displays. At the same time, the town and manga is filled with horses and riders dressed in traditional Portuguese riding costumes. As the night falls, the chilly air of the November evening becomes filled with smoke from roasted chestnuts. The party begins; restaurants, bars, and discos open up and are quickly full of people. All day and night, the town is packed with horses – they are everywhere: in the streets, in the bars, and even in the discotheques. There is just no end to the festivities!
The narrow streets of Golegã are filled with stands, and it is possible to do some pleasant shopping. Visiting Golegã also gives you agreat opportunity to experience Portuguese culture, as there are plenty of traditional food and products to enjoy. You can also meet many Lusitano breeders in their ‘casettas’ (small cottages), and see them exhibit their horses in outside stalls. Don’t forget to try out the local drinks, which are sold at every corner: Ginga, Agua-Pé, and Abafado.
O lugar de Golegã outrora pertença da Vila de Santarém, foi elevado à categoria de Vila por carta de D. João III, datada de 3 de Novembro de 1534. Segundo vários autores, a Vila da Golegã teve origem no tempo de D. Afonso Henriques ou de D. Sancho I, quando uma mulher natural da Galiza e que residia em Santarém veio estabelecer-se com uma estalagem neste local. Que a Golegã já existia no século XV, parece não haver dúvidas, bem como depois de se haver estabelecido nela a dita Galega, ter passado a denominar-se Venda da Galega, Póvoa da Galega, Vila da Galega e mais tarde por corrupção de linguagem, “Golegã”.
A par da importância do lugar em que se situa, a região da Golegã detinha uma das maiores riquezas: um solo fértil: A fama das suas terras chamou muito povo a si, como grandes agricultores e criadores de cavalos. Dos tempos mais remotos vêm alusões à região, à Quinta da Cardiga que em 1169 foi dada por D. Afonso I à ordem do Templo para arroteamento e cultivo. De século para século foi a mesma sendo doada a outras ordens e, a partir do século XIX, comprada por diversos grandes agricultores.
Já no século XVIII, e com o apoio dado pelo Marquês de Pombal, a feira começou a tomar um importante cariz competitivo, realizando-se concursos hípicos e diversas competições de raças. Os melhores criadores de cavalos concentravam-se então na Golegã. No século XIX, com base na valorização agrária da região, a Golegã voltou a ter grande importância para o que muito contribuíram as figuras de dois grandes agricultores e estadistas: Carlos Relvas, fidalgo da Casa Real, grande amigo do Rei, comendador, lavrador, artista, proprietário de diversos estabelecimentos agrícolas e de dois palácios (onde por várias vezes hospedou a família real), e José Relvas, seu filho, imensamente ligado à causa republicana, ministro das finanças e também um grande artista.
Em meados do século XVIII, teve o seu começo a Feira da Golegã, chamada até 1972 Feira de São Martinho, data a partir da qual passou a denominar-se Feira Nacional do Cavalo. É a Feira Nacional do Cavalo a mais importante e mais castiça de todas as feiras que no seu género se realizam em Portugal e no mundo. Aqui se apresentam todos os criadores, com os seus belos exemplares, razão pela qual, se transaccionam na Golegã, os melhores puro-sangue, criados no País, que são vendidos para vários pontos do globo.
A Golegã há muito que passou a ser a Capital do Cavalo. O dia de São Martinho, de feira que foi, passou ao mais belo e único espectáculo equestre público que se realiza a nível gratuito entre nós. Ralies, Raids, Jogos Equestres, Campeonatos, Maratona de Carruagens, Exibições, são alguns dos mais belos espectáculos que na Golegã se realizam na sua apresentação do mais belo animal do mundo que é o cavalo. E para complemento da festa justificando o adágio popular que, “Pelo São Martinho prova o Vinho”, não faltarão a água-pé e as sempre apetecidas castanhas assadas.
The traditional Portuguese riding costume
Traje Português de Equitação
By Andréa Kjellberg|August 26th, 2014
The Portuguese riding costume can be traced back to the late 19th century, and is a well-known part of the country’s riding culture. Today you can see the costume in use during fairs, shows and competitions in Portugal, as well as in other parts of the world.
The Portuguese Traditional CostumeA cultural heritage
The traditional Portuguese riding costume, also known as Traje Português de Equitação, is an indication of how important the country considers its cultural heritage to be. The costume can be traced back to late 19th and early 20th century Portugal, where it was used by riders as formal attire. However, the modern female costume is somewhat an interpretation of the male one, as it was still considered inappropriate for women to ride astride until the middle of the 20th century. The special skirt for riding astride has only been used in Portugal since around 1950, even though it had been seen in France many years earlier.
Portuguese CostumeThe traditional costume today
Portuguese people enjoy dressing up and even in modern times, you can see their traditional costume in use on many occasions. During the annual horse fair in Golegã, there are many hundreds of riders who dress ‘á Portuguesa’, but you can see the costumes in use during smaller fairs too. Portuguese Working Equitation riders wear the traditional costume in competitions, and it can also be seen in different kinds of shows. As it is considered to be strongly associated with the Lusitano breed, it is even worn in other parts of the world where Lusitano horses are found.
The Portuguese costume, piece by piece
The hat has a wide brim and a round indented crown. Traditionally, women wear another type of hat with an upturned brim and two silk pompons, but today you can see women wearing both models.
The Portuguese jacket is like a tailcoat that has been cropped at the waist, with vertical pockets and a row of buttons on the sleeves. The jacket should be worn open, but even so it has buttons or decorative silk braids along the front.
Portuguese waist coat
Under the jacket, you wear a waistcoat with a V-neck that allows the shirt to be seen. The back of the waistcoat is made out of a lighter fabric than the front, and is adjusted by laces running through eyelets. Sometimes, you see women without a waistcoat, but men should always wear it.
The Portuguese shirt is white with small collar ends that are fixed at the neckband. The closing at the top is decorative with double collar links. The front of the shirt is often decorated with pleats or lace.
The sash is made of silk and is placed over or under the bottom edge of the waistcoat, with the fringes hanging down on the left side.
Women wear both pants and skirtsThe pants are cut straight, without cuffs, and end just above the ankle. They have a very high waist with buttons on the waistband, for attaching suspenders.
Women wear both pants and skirts. The skirt fits the hips closely and ends just above the ankle. It is slit from the top of the thigh, both in the front and back, with a few decorative buttons where the slit begins.
Short chaps are not considered formal and were traditionally used only when hunting, but as they are very practical, they have gained acceptance among riders who dress ‘á Portuguesa’. Today, it is more common to see dressed-up riders wearing chaps than boots. The boots should have a ‘shelf-heel’ made to support the spur.
There are two types of spurs that are considered Portuguese, which are both attached to the lowest part of the heel. The lighter variant is simply pushed onto the heel whilst the heavier one is kept in place with a leather strap. You normally see the heavier one being used when someone dresses ‘á Portuguesa’.
It is also normal to wear gloves that aremade of fine cloth or leather. Women can also wear filigree earrings from Northern Portugal, and men can wear a watch in the waistcoat pocket, secured by a chain attached to a button/buttonhole on the waistcoat.
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