While my friend Kathi and I were wandering the streets of Sahuayo, Michocan, Mexico on the morning of 25 July 2012, we [almost literally] stumbled upon this fine assortment of livestock and their handlers:
Now, looking at the light brown horse in the middle, you may be saying “What in heaven’s name has happened to the rest of that rider??? All that’s left is a leg from about the knee down!”
It’s really very simple. The rider was eaten by the caballo for protein, which explains why the horse has such a thick mane and glossy hide. If you are what you eat, then this horse must have eaten Fabio!
Actually, it’s a bit more mundane than that, of course. These fellows [both alive and plush] were preparing for their part in the Tlahualiles procession to be held a little later that day.
While the giant headdresses are what we all come to see, we mustn’t forget that 25 July is also the saint’s day in Sahuayo. The city’s patron saint is Santiago [St. James the Apostle]. While James died in 44 AD, he apparently reappeared on a horse 800 years later to assist the Spanish in one of their battles with the Muslim Moors. And that’s the way he is, for the most part, depicted in Sahuayo….astride a fine horse.
So if you are going to re-enact any battle in which Santiago is a participant, you need some horses. But the streets of Sahuayo are fairly narrow and the crowds are fairly large, so it’s safer and less expensive to use one of these plush horses.
This group is known as La Macuca and sus potrillos. La Macuca being the name of the business that “sponsors” the horses.
The men and boys don the horses, using shoulder straps to keep them up and on, and then hit the streets.
Here’s a look down inside the “horse.” You can see that it’s kind of like strapping yourself into a carnival ride of some kind.
They even make the horses look better with the use of some carefully applied eye makeup:
And just for faithful reader, Joe J., who has been begging for a posting about a Mexican rodeo:
If you’d like to see a short video showing the potrillos on parade at last year’s festivities in Sahuayo, check this out: