Here, the penultimate Saturday of Augustit happens a popular mountain tour in which farmers and the general public shake hands to put the finishing touch to a campaign of careful attention to Asturians. The party was devised in 1980 as a defense of this race of horses that at that time they were in danger of extinction. Since 2019 has the distinction of Fiesta of National Tourist Interest.
The celebration begins in the morning with a campaign mass, regional dance contest, brass bands, bagpipes and fellowship food, after which the riding exhibition, doma y the mark of the foals born that year; one of the activities most pleasing to the public, and one of the basic conditions for the Asturian cattle hut to continue taking steps in its consolidation. Throughout this party the "Senior Pastor of Sueve" is also named and the "Asturcones de Oro" awards are presented.
The Sierra del Sueve
This is a privileged place, of great beauty. The flora does not lag behind the fauna and is observed in the…
Asturcones in Asturias
For those who have never seen them, the Asturcón specimens They are usually black-jet and long mane and its origin goes back to ancient times. Is about one of the oldest and purest ponies in the world. The first testimony of its existence is collected in the year 80 a. of C. The Roman Pliny wrote:
The Galaicas and Astures tribes of northern Hispania breed a race of horses called CELDONS (in their language); this small race that (we Romans) call ASTURCONES, do not trot but have a special easy step that comes from moving the two legs of each side alternately.
So it was the Romans who supported them with the name we know them today. By then, his equine qualities they spoke of a combination of speed and strength as well as smoothness in the step, resistance, work capacity and value in combat. Since then, the asturcón is part of a wide family of ponies that are conserved in the so-called Atlantic Arc, the strip of the oceanic coastline that goes from Portugal to Scotland and that includes Spain, France, England, Wales and Ireland. In total there are nine recognized breeds with similar characteristics: Garrano, Asturcón, Pottok, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Wales, Connemara, Shetland and Highland, many of which have spread throughout the world due to their characteristics.
The natural conditions of Asturias, a mountainous and abrupt region, of difficult communications until the twentieth century has been a circumstance that protected racial purity, preventing crossings that made it lose its identity; this fact also limited its disclosure and exit abroad.
The asturcones have developed a great group feeling given the attack and harassment they have historically suffered from wolves. Herds loose in valleys and mountains have been adapting to the environment and to external dangers collectively. The group of asturcones usually form a circle with their rumps towards the inside of it and their heads towards the outside, to defend their young protected inside what is called corru.
With the arrival of spring, the births of the new foals. After a gestation of eleven months, the mares that are going to give birth separate from the corru and look for a protected place. There the new Asturcón is born after a magical moment that lasts only a few minutes and always occurs during the night. It is so, in this way so fleeting and camouflaged in the dark, as the female avoids the possibility of being discovered by one of her enemies.
The gradual mechanization of agricultural work since the nineteenth century began to condition the cattle ranch of the asturcones; other events, such as the Spanish Civil War - during which they were shot down en masse to take advantage of their flesh - meant the horse's almost definitive cornering. On the brink of extinction during this century, at the end of the 70 years only about forty copies survive. The situation is then very critical.
The mountains of Sueve were the last redoubt of a stud farm of Asturcones, and only the effort of some breeders allowed the recovery of the horses until approaching the figure of a thousand nowadays, at the beginning of the 21st century. In these moments the continuity of the race does not seem threatened and its recovery is a success today. In this sense we can highlight the activity of the Association of Breeders of Ponies of Raza Asturcón (ACPRA), also in charge of organizing the equine events of the Fiesta del Asturcón. In Piloña there is also an association of breeders (ACAS) that go down the entire Sueve herd during the breeding season to a closed farm, to achieve the authenticity of the breed.
· Picture of Ricardo Yague 2016 CC BY-SA 4.0
If we want to go to this party we must ascend to La Majada de Espineres. You have to do it from the High the Flame. The tour is of great beauty and walking will take between one and two hours, although if we reach the Alto between the 8 and the 11 in the morning we will find tractors and off-road vehicles that can do us a favor and make the ascension easier. To get to the Alto la Llama, you have to take the AS-259 road that communicates the locality of Colunga and that of Villamayor, in Piloña. Many young people access La Majada the night before the party and prepare their tents in a popular camp.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for asturias.com