• katrienvanmiert

Eeuwenoude trekpaardentradities vertaald

8 maart 2019

Ann Muys spendeerde deze winter enkele inspirerende dagen aan de Nederlandse kust. Als secretaresse van het nationale stamboek van het Belgisch Trekpaard (KMBT), leerde ze er de eeuwenoude traditie straô rijden kennen. Haar ervaringen pende ze neer in een verrassend artikel.

Wist je dat onze Belgische Trekpaarden een echte sensatie zijn in de USA? Daarom wou het stamboek ook de Amerikaanse fans en fokkers wat meer vertellen over dit weinig gekende gebruik. Aan mij de taak om het verslag te vertalen… Gelukkig had ik me al eerder verdiept in het klassieke trekpaardenjargon.

Omdat ik het zo’n leuk verhaal vind, plaats ik het Engelstalige eindresultaat toch graag op deze site. Bijleren over één van onze mooiste nationale symbolen en tegelijkertijd de leukste taal ter wereld nog eens opfrissen...twee vliegen, één klap, toch?

Straô riding: Casting out winter ghosts at Schouwen-Duiveland

Straô-rieen, or beach riding, is an annual village festival that only takes place on the island of Schouwen-Duiveland. It is recognized as an official Dutch heritage event. The party starts eight weeks before Easter and has become increasingly popular these last few years. In Straô riding, horsemen and women ride their beautifully decorated draft horses into the sea to get rid of evil winter ghosts. These spirits are said to hide themselves in the horses’ legs during wintertime, when the animals mostly stay in their stables. Some families have been participating for centuries. Anyone who wants to, whether living in Zeeland or not, can sign up and compete for the prize that is awarded to the most impressively decorated horse.

Six villages organize their own Straô riding events: Renesse, Noordwelle, Burgh-Haamstede, Ellemeet, Scharendijke and Serooskerke.


Straô riding was first mentioned in 1643, but presumably the ritual has been around for much longer. Originally the event was held on the first Monday before Lent. After 1955 it was moved to Saturday. Sunday was not an option, as a small part of the population in Zeeland would not be able to participate on that day of the week because of religious beliefs.


In the past, farmers and servants rode their horses into the sea to wash and disinfect feet and legs after a winter in the barn. Following months of stable rest, many horses suffered from mud fever or skin inflammation. Some of them were stiff and achy from lack of exercise. According to popular belief in Zeeland the salty seawater had cleansing and healing powers, moreover, it would chase away evil spirits and circumvent nightmares.

The event

Before the start of the beach ride, all participants present themselves to a jury. Whoever decorated his or her horse in the most beautiful way, will be announced the winner at the end of the event. Then, all contenders make their way to the sea together, preceded by a number of experienced straô riders directing the group using brass horns. Once the horses’ feet have been cleansed, the riders go off for a nice coastal walk before returning to the village. There, they are joined by the local children and a festive brass band. The procession ends at the center of the village where the entire group walks a couple of laps around the church. After the award ceremony for the best decorated horse, the event is concluded with a tilting at the ring contest.

It is very special to witness how the entire event revolves around the draft horse, how so many participants decorate their horses with the greatest of care and how intensely they enjoy the beach ride with their favorite companion. A prime example of healthy relaxation!

Originele Nederlandse tekst: Ann Muys

Originele tekst en foto's: Ann Muys

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