On the eve of Dirty Thursday, grey horses, black horses, chestnuts, brown horses and piebald horses gallop through the alleys of Appenzell. In the rhythm set by the tambourines, they trot exuberantly here and there, so that the little bells on their bridles jingle in wild merriment.
Carnival in the Innerrhoden capital begins with the traditional "Ommetrommere". For this, the small and large drummers and the "Botzerössli" gather on the Landsgemeindeplatz late on Wednesday afternoon.
The foolish breed of the "Botzerössli" are little wooden horses. Riders in uniform put them on through the sawn-out hole in the torso. The human torso protrudes from the horse, which is fastened over the rider's shoulders with leather straps. The rider's legs are hidden under a coloured "skirt" on the horse's body. In their exuberance, horse and rider like to frighten the fence guests and many an animal gets thirsty and has to be watered at the well.
The custom of the "Botzerössli" probably originated in southern Germany. In the second half of the 19th century, riders in military uniforms are said to have recited crude sayings.
Today the "Botzerössli" only live in Appenzell Innerrhoden. Shortly before they became extinct, the carnival association restored old specimens. Today, crowds of "Botzerössli" of all colours and sizes once again trot ahead as the vanguard of the big carnival procession on Saturday and make their jokes in the children's procession on Thursday afternoon. The girls and boys and the adults wear old fire brigade uniforms and put moustaches, freckles and red cheeks on their faces.
Appenzell and external communities
From the eve of Dirty Thursday to Carnival Monday, 16th of Feburary - 20 of February 2023