The millennium-long equestrian culture of Europe is an integral part of of this region. The role of the horse in European culture is unique. It has simultaneously been a treasured animal, a means of transport, a military machine and a loyal companion.
Horsemanship tourneys and festivals played an essential part in European military training over the centuries. During medieval times, tournaments were often mock battles between two or more teams. These adult play-fights, often turned violent, engaging competing villages for several days in bloody warfare. The pope eventually got involved – and voted for less fierce demonstrations of skill like jousting and non-violent games.
These village games were organized to take place in a town square set up in the form of a theatre, that way everyone could take part.
Between the 15th and 17th centuries extravagant equestrian shows became popular in the courts of Italy.
These events started out as imitations of ancient Roman triumphs and quickly spread around Europe.
Performances usually included a parade followed by a mounted horseback fight in choreographed form. The events provided riders the possibility to demonstrate their learned self-control, poise, and battle-readiness of their horses. They performed movements such as zig zag half passes, canter pirouettes and geometrical formations with music, poetry and costumes.
During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, Europe was the epicenter of an important cultural transformation.
The following events are modern day celebrations of the horse around Europe.
- The Cavalcata di Oswald Von Wolkenstein in the Dolomites of Italy
- The Fiera di Verona horse show in Verona, Italy
- Muraglione Pass Horse Fair