Find a back issue

Don’t Call a Charreada a Mexican Rodeo

Above you can see a behind-the-scenes video of the fashion shoot for the July issue of D Magazine, which was inspired by charrería — sort of like Mexican rodeo, but don’t call it that.

Liz Johnstone tagged along with photographers Kristi and Scot Redman to tell the story of the charreada. Not visible in the video: Liz says the model was terrified of horses.

8 comments on “Don’t Call a Charreada a Mexican Rodeo

  1. How in God’s name can anyone do an article on charreada and ignore the inherent animal abuse? The charreada features nine standard scored events, only three of which are similar to American-style rodeo: bullriding, bareback bronc, and team roping.

    Three of the charreada’s events involve the roping of running horses by the legs, either fore (“manganas”) or hind (“piales”). Eleven states have banned this cruelty, and Oregon is about to follow suit.

    An even worse event is “steer tailing” (aka “colas”), alluded to in the article. I was involved in a case in Denver several years ago in which seven steers had their tails stripped to the bone (“degloved”). Two others suffered a broken leg and a broken pelvis, respectively. And horses sometimes suffer broken legs when the steers run the wrong way. Some “sport”! (See the many videos on YouTube, if in doubt.)

    Even Cesar Chavez and his United Farm Workers Union condemned this mistreatment of the animals. And yes, Randy, the charros and charras are “good people”–nobody’s denying that. But anybody who thinks this is not animal abuse has a screw loose. (In fairness, calf roping and steer busting are worse, in my opinion, and both should be banned outright.)

    I’m a big fan of cultural diversity, but much of charreada crosses the line. Some traditions deserve to die.

    For an eye-opener, see Randy Janssen’s website: http://www.legalizehorsetripping.com (I’m not making this up). Mr. Janssen (with whom I’ve corresponded for years) is also fully convinced that animals have neither emotions nor feelings. That may be true of some lawyers, but certainly not animals.

    Cheers,
    Eric Mills, coordinator
    ACTION FOR ANIMALS
    Oakland
    email – afa@mcn.org

  2. Charreada and Rodeo are very similar in all aspects. Is there a chance for injuries in either, yes. Is there a chance for injuries in any rodeo/equestrian animal related sport? Yes..Are they criminal? No. What the heck do you mean by American-style?, Charro events date way back even before the U.S. was divided. American style? Yet you claim cultural diversity. Be careful Eric, you are not a superior being. Give me a break.

    . Should any sport or culture be singled out because it is not as strong financially?..No. Has the tide changed and the recent anti Charro/Rodeo legislation failed in Colorado, California, Nevada and Oregon to the extent that Charreadas and it’s events are not affected by any of these intentional tripping laws that we allowed to pass?.Including the 1995 law. Manganas and piales are alive and well. Denver was not a sanctioned Charro event and you know it. Yes , some injuries happen but the percentages are very low.

    Steers are brought to the ground in either sport so don’t single anybody out. Cesar Chavez was anti immigration, legal or illegal, just like you.. Have you seen the news lately? Reform is in the works and nobody will be tolerating discriminatory or biased laws be passed.

    UFW is now pro reform and the current United Farm Workers administration clearly retracted the use of the anti Charro/ rodeo letter and you know it. As a matter of fact, I have been instructed to monitor the use of that letter to make sure it is not used!

    You absolutely, 100% know that Randy Janssen is not a representative or even a member of official FMCH or CFUSA Charro organizations, You yourself claim that he is cuckoo or something like that. The sanctioning bodies of Charreria are against his ideals and agendas so please don’t characterize him as a representative. His website is not approved and is not appreciated by our organizations. Thank you, Toby D.

  3. Reading Liz Johnstone’s fluff piece on charreada, along with the photos of children and colorful costumes, one gets the impression its all about pageantry and good family entertainment. It’s not. It’s mostly about animal abuse – abuse even more brutal than regular rodeo. (And despite the article’s claims to the contrary, it really is just another version of rodeo.)

    No need to go into steer tailing or events involving roping horses by the legs while they are running. Eric Mills covered that sufficiently. Another aspect of charreada worth mentioning, however, is the use of animals in very poor condition – seriously underweight, badly scarred, etc. – and the use of the same small number of animals repeatedly. It pains me to use American rodeo as a beacon of high standards in animal care, but stock contractors bring in fairly sufficient numbers of animals for their events and there are rules about how many times an animal can be used. I’ve also never seen rodeo animals looking seriously underfed.

    There are aspects of charreada that are truly 3rd World and have no place in a civilized society. Throw around the “C” word (culture) and the “T” word (tradition) all you want, but that’s no justification for animal abuse. Charreada needs to clean up its act, conduct itself according to humane rules, or should be banished.

  4. Both Eric and Claire have said the truth, which is sometimes hard to swallow for those who have vociferously championed an obviously outdated and immature practice. We need to grow as a society. Animal abuse, whether in an “American-style” rodeo or ANY equestrian or animal-involved event, is a sign we are still barbarians. Empathy has been lost or ignored. If anyone who thinks this is okay, rationalizing their viewpoint with “tradition” or “culture,” should put themselves in the place of the animal during its potentially injurious “event,” and if they would not care to experience what that animal would experience (injury, death, or simply plain terror), then they should seriously reconsider their stance. This is what a mature and intelligent human would do.

  5. Both Eric and Claire have said the truth, which is sometimes hard to swallow for those who have vociferously championed an obviously outdated and immature practice. We need to grow as a society. Animal abuse, whether in an “American-style” rodeo or ANY equestrian or animal-involved event, is a sign we are still barbarians. Empathy has been lost or ignored. If anyone who thinks this is okay, rationalizing their viewpoint with “tradition” or “culture,” should put themselves in the place of the animal during its potentially injurious “event,” and if they would not care to experience what that animal would experience (injury, death, or simply plain terror), then they should seriously reconsider their stance. This is what a mature and intelligent human would do.

  6. Both Eric and Claire have said the truth, which is sometimes hard to swallow for those who have vociferously championed an obviously outdated and immature practice. We need to grow as a society. Animal abuse, whether in an “American-style” rodeo or ANY equestrian or animal-involved event, is a sign we are still barbarians. Empathy has been lost or ignored. Anyone who thinks this is okay, rationalizing their viewpoint with “tradition” or “culture,” should put themselves in the place of the animal during its potentially injurious “event,” and if they would not care to experience what that animal would experience (injury, death, or simply plain terror), then they should seriously reconsider their stance. This is what a mature and intelligent human would do.

  7. It doesn’t matter what you call these events; they are all justifications for animal abuse. I have heard numerous personal accounts from former participants who attested to the injuries that the terrified animals suffered, including death. I can’t comprehend how any society would condone this cruelty or wish to expose their children to it.
    As to attributing these events to “culture” or “tradition”; well, my ancestors threw humans to the lions in the name of entertainment, but that didn’t make it right and we don’t do it today.

  8. Right on Eric. People are fast becoming aware of the unnecessary cruelty involved in charreada. All anyone has to do is look on utube and educated themselves to the suffering many of these horses are forced to endure. The horses they use of these cruel events are not their person horses but horses destined for the slaughter anyway. This is not about culture and all about animal abuse.

    Linda Faso