And of course, the worthier horses are those which won more fights in horsefighting events.
Fiestas and Festivals Features Horsefighting
Horse fighting are featured events in annual fiestas, thanksgiving festivals and during celebrations by locals to honor a special guest. I have been to some of these events, and they are very much like cockfights in terms of the betting that goes around; and like the present day Universal Fighting Contests in the degree of brutality between combatants.
Briefly, this is how it goes. The organizers build an enclosed pen. A mare that is in heat is tethered in the pen. It ignites the sexual desire of two stallions and will lead to a fight to determine which between the two of them will become the female’s partner. During such fights the horses push, shove, head-but, bite, and kick each other to submission. A stallion loses the fight if it runs out of the pre-defined ring drawn within the enclosed pen or, if his owner will throw the towel to prevent further harm to his horse. In some cases, the organizers allow the victorious stallion to mate the mare.
Hundreds, if not thousands of people watch the horse fights. Children climb trees for a better view of the festival. There is a lot of shouting and jeering from the crowd. Bet taking precedes the fight very much like what happens in a cockpit arena.
Before horsefighting was outlawed by the Animal Welfare Act of 2009, various festivals in Mindanao have horse fighting as one of their featured events: the Lemlunay Festival of the T’bolis in South Cotabato; the Dorong Festival in Digos Davao del Sur; during several fiestas in North Cotabato; and, during the Kadayawan Festival in Davao City to name a few I am familiar with. Now, some local governments have stopped the events during fiestas, but some enthusiasts are still holding such events insisting that it is part of their culture and even complaining that it should be allowed since cockfighting is legal in this country.
I have not watched horsefighting in the past several years. The last one was in 2004 during the Kadayawan festival and I am sharing with you a short video that I took of that event.
Horsefighting during Kadayawan 2004