The Charreada is the traditional Mexican celebration that developed out of the herraderos (brandings) and rodeos (round-ups) of Colonia Mexican haciendas. It is held at popular ranches in all areas of Mexico and the South Western United States. All participating Charros must be certified by Associations in the Federación Nacional de Charros.
The Charreada is highly ritualized and the events follow a traditional sequence. The competition usually begins with a military march, the “Marcha Zacatecas,” played by a mariachi band. A procession follows, with representatives of the participating Charro associations riding horseback around the lienzo carrying flags and banners. They are followed by the president of the Charro association, the members of the competing teams, and perhaps a “Charro Queen.” Once the opening ceremony is completed, the competitions begin.
- Cala de Caballo (Test of the horse): The Charro puts his horse though various commands to demonstrate his ability and the horse’s training. Controlled slide, left and right half, full, and triple turns, dismount and mount, and reverse walk are performed.
- Piales en Lienzo (Roping of the feet): The Charro must throw a lariat, let a wild mare run through the loop catching it by the hind legs. Three opportunities are given. Points are awarded for distance needed to stop the mare.
- Colas en el Lienzo or Coleadero (Arena bull tailing): The Charro rides alongside the left side of the bull, wraps its tail around his right leg, and tries to cause the bull fall and roll as he rides past it. Points are given for technique, time, and roll of the bull.
- Escaramuza (Skirmish): Since the 1950’s, this breath-taking women’s event adds beauty and elegance to the Charreada. During this event a team of 8-12 women riding sidesaddle and dressed in colorful Adelita dresses perform a variety of precision riding techniques. Years of training by the rulebook make this event art, sport, and an extension of the culture that is Charreria
- Jineto de Toro (Bull riding): Bulls are between 990 and 1320 pounds, and are ridden until they stop bucking. Two hands can be used on the bullrope. Points are given for technique. The Charro cannot fall off, he must dismount and land upright. After the Charro dismounts the bull he must remove the bullrope and bellrope so the Terna en el Ruedo can follow.
- Terna en el Ruedo (Team of three): A team roping event in which three Charros attempt to rope a bull, one by its neck, one by its hind legs, and the last then ties its feet together. They have a maximum of 10 minutes. Points are awarded for rope tricks and time.
- Jineteo de Yegua (Bareback on a wild mare): Similar to Bareback bronc riding. Yegua means mare. A wild mare is ridden with a bullrope. Two hands are used and the legs are held horizontally to the ground.
- Manganas a Pie (Roping on foot): A Charro on foot (pie) has three opportunities to rope a wild mare by its front legs and cause it to fall and roll once. The wild mare is chased around the ring by three mounted Charros. Points are awarded for time and rope tricks as long as the horse is roped and brought down. Extra points are given for the tirón del ahorcado (hanged pull) in which the rope is around the Charro’s neck and he uses his body to cause the mare to fall and roll. Points for all three attempts are cumulative. Eight minutes are allowed.
- Manganas a Caballo (Roping from horseback): A Charro on horseback has three opportunities to rope a wild mare by its front legs and cause it to fall and roll once. The wild mare is chased around the ring by three mounted Charros. Points are awarded for time and rope tricks as long as the horse is roped and brought down. Points for all three attempts are cumulative. Eight minutes are allowed.
- El Paso de la Muerte (The pass of death): A Charro riding bareback, with reins, attempts to leap from his own horse to the bare back of a wild horse without reins and ride it until it stops bucking. The most dangerous part of this is if the Charro performing the pass falls under three other mounted Charros that are chasing the wild mare around the arena. This is done backwards at times for show.
The Truth About Charreria