In parts of Spain there is a tradition of Giants in parades

The Giant Steed Bayard paraded through the city this year Credit: Dendermonde Council Facebook

IN parts of Spain there is a tradition of Giants in parades but in a city in Belgium it’s the turn of the Giant Dendermonde Horse who is allowed out of his stable every 10 years.

The latest appearance of the Bayard Steed was two years late due to the pandemic but on May 29, some 86,000 people turned up to see the huge horse parade through the town and when he returned to his stable booed and jeered until he made several encores.

According to folklore, Aymon, Lord of Dendermonde had a serious disagreement with the emperor Charlemagne and to try to make amends, he agreed for his cousin to marry Sir Aymon.

Four sons were born, Richard, Guiscard, Alard and Reyaud and as each was knighted by their father, they were given a horse.

Reynaud was so strong that he killed his horse with one blow of his fist. He was offered a second horse and on his first ride he broke its back, but a knight has to have a horse and Lord Aymon knew what to do.

He took Reynaud to a castle where the frightful horse Bayard, that has never found a master, is locked up. Without any fear Reynaud approached the dangerous horse and Reynaud fought with him until he was able to break him in.

Due to a very serious quarrel at the court with his cousin Louis, Charlemagne’s son, Reynaud became so angry he took his sword and decapitated the mean Louis and the four brothers escaped on the back of the magical Bayard.

The problem however was that Charlemagne was determined for revenge and looked to arrest the entire family but eventually agreed to spare them if Reynaud would give up Bayard which he reluctantly did.

The horse was taken to the confluence of the rivers Dender and Scheldt and heavy millstones were put around the horse’s neck before he was thrown into the water.

Twice the steed broke the stones and swam to the shore, where Reynaud was standing and on the third occasion, Reynaud turned away as he was so distressed and the horse thinking he is no longer wanted, simply allowed himself to drown.

Known as the Ros Beiaardommegang, the parade was recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2005.

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