Annapolis, MD — A delegation of U.S. horse industry officials and professionals has been invited to the Spanish Balearic Island of Menorca, located in the Mediterranean Sea, from May 25-30 to learn about the harness racing and Purebred Menorcan Horse (PRMe) industries on the island.
Anne Litz of The Maryland Horse Industry Board; Cheryl Stambaugh of the Maryland Standardbred Fund; Lisa Watts of Rosecroft Raceway; dressage trainer Julie Anne Staiger; and Jack Burke of Winbak Farm, the largest east coast breeder of Standardbred horses with farms from Maryland to Ontario, will comprise the delegation led by Alejandra “Alex” Abella, equine industry consultant based in Annapolis, Md.
The delegation has been invited by Ariadna Vilalta of Driven Associates and her Hats and Horses harness racing track event, held annually in May in the island of Menorca, with past editions also in Barcelona, Mallorca and Dubai.
The program for the delegation includes participation in the second annual International Conference of the Horse in Menorca, on May 26, as well as visits to harness racing tracks and breeders, PRMe breeders, a scenic trail ride and other tourist events, and the Hats and Horses event of May 28, held at the Torrre del Ram harness racing track in Ciutadella, Menorca. The Meliá Cala Galdana Hotel, a Meliá Hotels International beachfront property, will host the delegation.
The island of Menorca is historically and culturally connected to horses, with 1,500 harness races taking place uniquely in Spain throughout the Balearic Islands to which it belongs, and through the essential role of the PRMe horse in all its traditional festivities. The PRMe is a baroque and rare breed of black horses that are trainable and docile, and uniquely suited for dressage. Known for their versatility, they are used for all purposes from farm work, to promenades, to Menorcan dressage, and traditional summer fairs. During the summer festivities, the horses engage in jousting demonstrations and perform the “bot,” in which the horses walk or jump several feet while rearing, and while hundreds of townsfolk and tourists rush to touch them for good luck.
The island of Menorca claims to have more horses per square kilometer than any other European territory, and the state of Maryland has more horses per square mile than any other state in the United States. Jousting is performed by PRMe horses and is the official state sport of Maryland. The horse as ambassador between the horse industries of Maryland and Menorca is one of the main themes of this delegation visit.
A historical connection also exists between the city of Annapolis in Maryland, and the island of Menorca. Admiral David Farragut, renowned for the 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay during the American Civil War, was also the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and admiral in the United States Navy, and the son of a Menorcan merchant captain that emigrated to the United States to fight in the War of Independence in 1776. The United States Naval Academy is located in Annapolis, Md., and from 1815 to 1848, the first American naval base abroad was established in the port and capital city of Mahón, Menorca.
In 1953, Admiral Farragut was named “most favorite son” of the town of Ciutadella, Menorca, where his father was born, and in 2017 a plaque celebrating the 200 years since the birth of Admiral Farragut’s father, Jordi Farragut, was placed in the Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis. Every month of May, Menorca celebrates the life of U.S. Admiral Farragut.
Visit the Hats and Horses website for more information on the annual Hats and Horses events, or contact Alejandra “Alex” Abella for information on the U.S. delegation visit at 805.204.6961 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.