Strao Festival~ Netherlands!

Horses Bathing in the Sea, by Lucy Kemp-Welch, 1900.


We’re having a “Siberian Winter” here on in the Northeast, USA! Since it has been below zero out, I was thinking of the warmth of summer, galloping across the beach on my horse (something I’ve always wanted to do!) and thought that I would remind us all this summer will come soon by featuring horses being bathed in the sea and the Strao Festival in the Netherlands!

Strao Festival ~

Location: Dutch Provenience,  Zeeland, Netherlands

First mention: 1643

Strao,  is an annual feast day  on the Dutch island of Schouwen-Duiveland . The Strao Festival is celebrated only in Burgh- Haamstede , Ellemeet , Noordwelle , Renesse, Scharendijke and Seroskerke. During the event, People ride richly decorated horses on the beach and in the sea for the first time in the new year.

In the beginning, the Strao Festival  was held on the first Monday of Lent, when the  horses went back to work after a long winter in the stable. Workhorses, especially those with a lot of hair on their legs, were bothered by the soreness in their legs and hooves. To help get rid of the stiffness and to disinfect minor inflammations of the skin on the legs, the horse’s feet were washed into the sea. According to popular belief , it was also good against nightmares – the spell was broken by the sea water. 

After 1955,   every village celebrated this festival on a different Saturday from mid-February to late March  festival is held in Zeeland. The person who has participated most often takes the lead and blows a brass horn and the rest follow~

Here are a few paintings of horses being bathed in the summer!


The Bathing of Horses (sketch), by Arkady Plastov, 1937.
Bathing the Horses, by Anatoly Treskin, 1940.
Anzacs Bathing in the Sea, by George Washington Lambert, 1914.
Bathing of a Red Horse, by Kusma Petrov-Vodkin, 1912.
Oscar Matthiesen, 1906.
Horse’s Bath, by Joaquín Sorolla, 1909. (The Spanish keep their hats on.)
Summertime, by Rowland Wheelwright, ND.
The Bathing of Horses, by Arkady Plastov, 1938.
Ludwig Vacatko, ND.
Bathing a Horse, by Valentin Serov, 1905.

And here are photos from the Strao Festival, by Bram Van Broekhoven! The photos are from 2010-2015.


 Bram van Broekhoven~


Location: Netherlands~

I asked   Bram van Broekhoven , the photographer who took these photos of the horses and riders in the Straô Festival a few questions about himself and his art!!

Have you lived in the Netherlands all your life? 
The longest time I lived in The Netherlands, but 9 years in Germany
Do you own any horses that you use as models for your work?
No I don’t own horses
Have you ever rode in the Straô Festival?
No, I only go there to take pictures of the horses. many photos of the past years in my Picasa album
What is your favorite thing about the art that you do?
Favorite is to take action photos when they go fast over the beach, or deep in to the sea.
And I especially love the draft horses, because of their strength and appearance
Why did you chose to do photography?
No idea, I  have done this so many years, started in the analog of time.
Do you have any upcoming events/shows coming up?
3/28/15 Noordwelle, Dutch province of Zeeland, Netherlands.
3/7/15 Scharendijke,  Dutch province of Zeeland, Netherlands.
3/14/15 Ellemeet, Dutch province of Zeeland, Netherlands.
3/21/15 Serooskerke,  Dutch province of Zeeland, Netherlands.


Noordwelle 2010


Noordwelle 2010


Noordwelle 2010


Noordwelle 2010


Noordwelle 2010


Noordwelle 2010


Noordwelle 2010


Noordwelle 2010


Burgh-Haamstede 05-03-2011


Burgh-Haamstede 05-03-2011


Burgh-Haamstede 05-03-2011
Burgh-Haamstede 05-03-2011









Wouldn’t be so cool if we could start a Strao Festival here in USA?! I’d love to decorate my horse up and ride on the beach-when it is warm, though:) Thank you ,Bram van Broekhoven, for letting me share with my readers your photographs!!!


Does anyone want to join me in April at Sandy Hook Park in NJ? When it is warmer:) Contact  me if you want to!:)


Huh? What? Well, I will believe that when I see flying Shetlands !


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s