As a horse-crazy girl growing up in Southern California, had anyone predicted that one day I would ride in The Blessing of The Horses in San Miguel de Allende, I might have fallen right off the back of the saddle! Moving to Mexico let alone participating in such a grand, once-in-a-lifetime event might have been a lot for my developing brain to digest!
Spending my weekends at the barn and my summers at Rawhide Ranch, mucking out stalls and refining my lassoing and barrel racing techniques was a grounding anchor of a dynamic childhood.
“Pigtailed Cowgirl” was my go-to Halloween costume, complete with a Western-brimmed hat, boots and the biggest belt buckle my jeans could support.
Barbies and dolls never held my interest. Showing hunter jumpers during the school year and spending my summers working hard and getting dirty at a dude ranch was my idea of a good time.
Studies, travel, my career, and various other life ambitions took me away from horses until 2014 when I moved to central Mexico with my family.
A Cowgirl’s Dream
Thanks to my lucky shamrocks I had the opportunity to participate in the ultimate equine experience of my life–The Blessing of The Horses–an annual central Mexico pilgrimage that convenes at The Parroquía of San Miguel de Allende.
While my emergency spinal surgery one year later was a success and I was thankfully not sentenced to a wheelchair for the rest of my earthly existence, little did I know that this ride would be my last.
Heading out atop Guerrero (Warrior), a 17-hand black Friesian horse, into the desert plains of central Guanajuato,
traversing the trails and sometimes no trails at all, we met up with many other groups of riders from the surrounding communities on our way to El Jardín, the town center of San Miguel de Allende.
Watch Out for The Tree!
I was so mesmerized by the totality of the experience that I did not notice the low-lying tree branch just inches in front of my head. With no time to duck, it ripped my hat right off and brought it tumbling down to the muddy ground below. Fortunately, it landed to the side of the puddle, and even better than that, the spikey branch spared my face. One of the cowboys riding next to me was gracious enough to hop off his horse and retrieve it for me. Gracias, muchas gracias.
Upon rounding the corner of the train tracks, I was greeted by the sight of hundreds of riders that had all joined together, some who had made the trek from bordering cities and states, for the procession up Canal Street into the main plaza.
I was one of a very small handful of female riders in a sea of cowboys and my face hurt by the day’s end from all of the ear-to-ear smiling!
I know my Grandpa Joe was smiling down from heaven, seeing his granddaughter out there in Central Mexico, atop this extraordinary, high-stepping, magnificent horse riding into a 16th-century colonial town amidst hundreds of cowboys and spectators, living my best life, in Spanish, in Mexico!
¡Viva Santo San Martin!
The procession didn’t begin without first a cleansing downpour from the high-desert sky, adding another element of surprise and adventure to the ride. Within moments of the first drops, all of the horses did a 180-degree turn around to position their hindquarters to the rain and thus shelter their faces as much as possible. Quite a sight amongst so many horses!
One of the more senior cowboys performed the honorary task of charging up and down the cobblestone street, shouting“Viva Jesus Cristo, Viva Santo San Martin!”. The parade officially commenced and in groups of two and three, we made our way up to the Jardín, passing by hundreds of waving, smiling spectators to the base of The Parroquía where a full Catholic mass was given to bless the horses and their riders.
El Centro was filled with flower-adorned arches and papel picado strung from the buildings. Riding through this tunnel of color, celebration and tradition was an honor for this 45-year-old California Cowgirl in Mexico!
Blessing of The Horses & Riders
Arriving at The Parroquía, hats were removed and heads bowed down to receive the blessings from the high priest.
There are experiences in one’s life that have the power to change who you are—to impact you in such a profound way that you see the world around you differently, with more depth and perspective. This was one of those times for me.
Thank you, Guerrero, The Gentle Warrior, for being my grand, majestic, safe companion and guide for the day. Thank you Mario and Rodo for your protection and navigation along the ride…an experience and a day I will never ever forget!
If you would like to read about another central Mexico pilgrimage on horseback that I had the fortune to participate in, please click on this link:
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