Words fail to fully describe the experience of this famous Bavarian horse pilgrimage. By AnnElise Makin
Lehards is’! When you live in southern Bavaria, that’s a command. Now drop everything. Bring all your horses, wagons, maidens, and pay tribute to St. Leonhard.
That’s how it was in my high school town, Bad Tölz. Every November 6, St. Leonhard’s Day, we had an extra day off from school. Lehardi is always on a weekday, regardless of how November 6 falls, because the rush of people would be too overwhelming on a weekend for this small town of 18,000. Add to that the steep hills and narrow alleys, and the spectator-lined, cobble-stoned Marktstraße, and then let some 80 horse-powered, iron-rimmed farm wagons filled with festively clad women rumble up to the Winzerer monument—that is Lehardi. It’s certainly not for a faint-hearted event manager.
Lehardi (elsewhere called Lehards or Leonhardi) is a Bavarian celebration in honor of St. Leonhard, the patron saint of farm animals, foremost horses. Great efforts are taken so that each ride turns out perfectly. Many towns compete with each other and within themselves to best uphold the truths to ancestry and custom.