Peruvian Dancing Horses


This was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Last month, my friend David Rodriguez called me up and said that he’d take me down to watch the Pervian Paso Horse semifinals and that they would be doing the semi-final round for the Marinera competition. Having lived in Peru for quite a while, I knew that the Marinera is Peru’s most emblematic dance (it is a wonderful traditional yet extreemly flirtatious spectacle). However, I couldn’t understand how horses would be involved.

“The Marinera?” I asked skeptically.

“Yes,” David responded, “The horses dance.”

Having grown up in a rodeo town, the concept of dancing horses was foreign to me. However, I tell you, this Paso horse Marinera competition was something else. Just writing about it now gives me little shivers. Imagine, they teach their horses to dance! What a beautiful lovely concept. And for any of you who know horses, you know that a horse is the type of animal that can appreciate a little bit of flirtation. It didn’t take long to realize that these animals were IN to what they were doing.

Truly, it was just spectacular, the pictures and the video that I took don’t do it justice. Did you notice in the picture above that the girl is barefoot? Have you ever been STEPPED on by a HORSE? I have, and let me tell you, it’s not something that you want to have happen when you’re barefoot.

During the Marinera, the girl skitters away from the guy, then twirls her dress, then kind of looks over her shoulder and smiles before running away again. It’s cute, this whole dance embodies the pursuit so perfectly. Of course, when you add a horse into the mix, that just elevates the whole situation. Is there a better symbol of raw sexuality than a massively muscled horse trotting and bouncing around? Watching that huge, powerful animal trot flirtatiously in pursuit of a beautifully dressed young woman (they had some categories for some very young girls), and all the while having the performance give off the impression that the woman was somehow in charge…that just left me speechless.
Really, it was the kind of day where I didn’t get to see anything because whenever something started I found myself reaching for my camera to record it all.

I don’t know what the story is with the Peruvian Paso horse either. It seems like every time I hear a story about a breed of horses it involves them being on the point of slaughter by some invading force only to have some otherwise tough as nails general stand up and say, “naw, we’ve got to preserve this.” I think Patten had some sort of story like this in his history. Horses are great like that, their elegance and power is enough to bring even a man who has been toughened by a life of endless abuse and a constant subjugation to images of unspeakable horror back to a place where he can recognize beauty again. Look it up, I just bet that Paso horses only exist because some fighting man who was given the order to wipe them out just couldn’t do it. And thank god, because this is a natural resource on par with Machu Picchu and completely worthy of Peru.
Friends, if Ernest Hemmingway were alive today, he’d be sitting on a Paso ranch in Peru, I guarantee it.

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