Adapted from the Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century, charrería is a uniquely Mexican sport. In the early decades, charro competitions and contests were included in major celebrations in Mexico, making it the national sport. Many of the evens in charrería display the careful technique and quality horsemanship. In addition to the equestrian skills that charros master, the sport grew to include events reminiscent of Spanish bullfighting. Now the typical charrería features nine competitions.
The first event is the cala de caballo, which appears similar to the sliding stop of reined cow horse and shows the careful control the rider has of his horse. The second event, the piales en lienzo, requires the charro to rope the hind legs of a horse, steer, or bull. The next event, coleadero, is steer flipping. In this event, the charro rides up grabs the bull by the tail, and flips the bull to its back.
The fourth event, though similar to North American rodeo’s bull riding, is a longer version. In jineteo de toros, the charro rides the bull until the bull stops bucking rather than 8 seconds. The fifth event, la terna, teams rope a calf as quickly as possible, just as in team roping of North America. Next in the sixth event, jineteo de yeguas, charros ride broncs. The next two events are similar. In piales and manganas, on foot or horseback, the charros ropes the hind legs of a running mare.
Finally, the most challenging event is the paso de la muerte or the death pass. Each charro attempts to hop from the back of his tame horse onto a wild horse and ride the new horse until it stops bucking.
Amongst the men’s events, ladies of escaramuza take to the arena floor with their own competition. The eight women on the team perform precise choreographed routines while riding saddle. With exact movement and synchronized horses' steps, the patterns are mesmerizing.
By the 1860s, charrería had extended north into Texas. And in 1947, the San Antonio Charro Association was founded, preserving the rich history and culture. As the first charro association in the United States, the SA Charros host regular events at the ranch and tour the country for competitions. Learn more about the organization and see their calendar of events at sacharros.org.