Flashy, well-dressed and reckless, the bronco riding cowboys known as Charros are Mexican icons, displaying a style and macho bravery romanticized in the nation's folk songs, paintings and movies. Their life-risking antics, or Charreria, are rural Mexico's official sport.
The Charrería tradition gives both Mexicans and those of Mexican descent, a source of pride. The centuries-old practice brings together working skills, training and discipline, horsemanship, music and dance, and symbolic reenactment of Mexican values and customs.
Family and community centered, winning is second to cooperation and respect for the whole charrería tradition. The point of the competitions is to access levels not available to the individual. In effect, performers mirror the ideals of community cooperation.
Although often impossible to achieve in ordinary life, such ideals are reflected in the patterned, high-velocity, stylized movements of the competitive events. In the Charreada, style and precision reflect the emphasis Mexican culture places on baroque richness, colorful decoration, elegance and mastery. In short, it is a celebration of what it means to be Mexican.