Americas & Beyond | May 2008
|San Antonio Team Keeps Tradition of Mexican Rodeo Alive|
Sarah Lucero - KENS 5 Eyewitness News
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It’s been called the grandfather of the American rodeo.
|The Charro Association has rodeo shows throughout the summer. For more information, go to SanAntonioCharros.com.|
Charreadas are Mexican rodeos, whose roots lie with the Spanish conquistadores that brought horse riding and bull fighting to the new world.
Part of what makes the sport unique is the female riders, called escaramuzas, with their colorful dresses and side saddle-style of riding.
They are elegant and ornate with flashy maneuvers that flow gracefully.
“They stay on even if they fall or break a leg, they know they’re going to get hurt; its something they love, grew up with,” said Miss Charro Irma Iris Duran.
They are the escaramuza team of the San Antonio Charro Association, the female competitors of the Mexican rodeo.
“It's a good tradition and part of San Antonio,” director Mundo Rios said.
Escaramuzas joined the charros in the 50s, representing the women who would ride alongside during the Mexican Revolution. Their role was to create an escaramuza, or skirmish, with their horses to confuse the enemy.
“They would do maneuvers in the field so soldiers on the others side had hard time trying to shoot them, and since they were women and girls, see their dresses,” Rios said.
“That's when the men come in. Once the opposing army is confused, the revolutionaries would come in and attack,” Duran said.
Today, the girls are keeping a tradition alive. They have a passion for the sport and a love for horses.
“It's a passion for our history, and all these girls are excellent horse women,” Duran said.
Some girls start as young as 4. The ones on this team are 13 and older. Many have been riding for at least 10 years.
The commitment is serious. They practice almost every day, and many weekends are spent performing.
The escaramuzas make riding side saddle in a traditional Mexican dress look effortless. But perfect spacing, symmetry and speed takes a lot of practice.
The biggest difference in riding side saddle is how you balance on the horse. But the girls say once you get the hang of it, you feel a lot more secure and it looks a lot more elegant and feminine.
“They are dangerous because they are running and they criss-cross. It's real pretty; they just flow,” Rios said.
It’s a tradition that has been handed down generations, and one that Rios hopes young women will continue.
“We have a lot of young kids here. Hopefully we get more kids and teach them where we come from and who we are,” Rios said.
Rios says the sport is not cheap. Training, maintaining horses and costumes can run into the thousands of dollars.
The Charro Association has rodeo shows throughout the summer. For more information, go to SanAntonioCharros.com.