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Horses leap fires in ancient Spanish festival, raising ire of animal rights activists

Published on Jan 17, 2014 9:31 AM

SAN BARTOLOME DE PINARES, Spain (AFP) - More than 100 horses and riders leapt the flames of roaring bonfires in a small Spanish town in a centuries-old festival that has raised the ire of animal rights activists.

Smoke and flames filled the night in San Bartolome de Pinares, a central Spanish town of some 600 inhabitants, in the annual festival held Thursday, the eve of Saint Anthony's Day for the patron saint of animals.

One by one, horses and their riders jumped the flames of large bonfires lit in the narrow, paved streets of the town, some 100 kilometres north-west of Madrid.

"No one knows how old the tradition is. My grandfather told me that his great-grandfather took part," said 34-year-old Diego Martin, this year's patron of the festival of "illuminations".

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