Tara A. Spears
September is a month for honoring Mexico’s most treasured traditions by celebrating cowboys, tequila, and mariachi as well as political events. Seeing a live performance of a charreria (Mexican rodeo) is a memorable experience, so be sure to bring a camera to record the stunning action. The pro circuit for competitive cowboys starts in late September and runs until May, making it easy to catch a show for seasonal residents and vacationers. Once you attend an action packed charreria, you’ll add the Mexican national sport to your favorite things to do in Mexico.
The specialized gear that a caballero needs goes beyond the spiffy outfits that are worn for fiestas, parades and competing in rodeos. Even the saddle and saddle blankets can be beautiful with the colors and patterns representing a particular region. Leg protection- chaps- are worn on the ranches and appear on the serious cowboys when competing. Similar to the United States Stetson, the Mexican cowboy hat is uniquely shaped to provide maximum protection from the sun as well as aeronautically designed to stay on when galloping at top speeds. Besides the sturdy western style shirt, it is tradition to wear a short, colorful necktie called the Charro Cobato Moño. Intrinsically designed leather belts with silver buckles top tight pants to complete the outfit. There is much pride in the selection of cowboy clothes and gear.
Perhaps the most showy event is the women’s escaramuza (skirmish). Included in Mexican rodeo since the 1950’s, this breath-taking event adds beauty and elegance to the Charreada. In this event a team of 8-12 women riding sidesaddle and dressed in colorful tradional Adelita dresses perform a variety of precision riding techniques. It takes years of training to master very specific maneuvers. The complexity and skill required make this event a combination of art, sport, and an extension of the Mexican rodeo culture.
True Mexican cowboys and the competitive rodeos called charrerias can best be described as living history; they are an art form drawn from the demands of a working life, as well as preserving the traditions of colonial Mexico. Charreria displays the bravery and quality of both animals and cowboys.