1 March 2024

A passionate breeder: Antonio Frau is committed to preserving the Mallorcan horse breed

With a series of video portraits, TV journalist Sibylle Tiessen takes us on a captivating journey into a world full of exciting projects, cultural diversity and authentic stories on Mallorca. Supported by TUI, the TUI Care Foundation and Majorca Daily Bulletin, viewers learn more about the island from a whole new perspective, from inspiring stories of locals to social, artistic, ecological, scientific and political aspects.

Episode 11: A passionate breeder: Antonio Frau is committed to preserving the Mallorcan horse breed

When Antonio 'Toni' Frau talks about graceful animals, his eyes light up. “I grew up with horses, and they have always been an important part of my life,” says the islander from Sóller, who has made it his mission to protect the native horse breed in Mallorca.

Toni Frau has had daily contact with his four-legged friends since childhood. On his grandparents' estate, the robust animals were mainly used for field work. “There were no machines back then; the horses helped us with the harvest and provided us with a livelihood,” he explains. Over the years, however, work on the land changed. “The harvest was taken over by machines, and tourism became more and more important,” he says.

Toni became increasingly interested in the history of the local horses. The Mallorcan breed was almost extinct. Pedro Salas, another Mallorcan horse enthusiast, began breeding the remaining animals. Over the years, the population has grown well. There are now 336 horses registered with the Balearic Association for the Protection of the Mallorcan Horse Breed.

The native horses are characterised by various features. “The Mallorcan horse must be jet black, with at most a white spot on the forehead. If the animal has even one white foot, it is no longer suitable for breeding and would be castrated. They are very muscular in the chest area, and their tails are lower than those of other breeds,” Toni explains. “They are trusting and lovable, robust yet elegant, and versatile for sport, field work, and transport. You can ride them on flat terrain or take them on a trip into the mountains. They are simply all-rounders.”

Toni Frau currently has four young horses and a small herd of mares on a piece of land near Fornalutx. “From seven in the morning, when I feed them, until two o'clock in the afternoon, I'm busy with the animals every day. The horses are my life. I'd rather be in the afterlife without them.”

Find out more in the video: