Mexican-Style Rodeo Riles Activists

In Western US, tradition clashes with animal rights
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2008 9:25 AM CDT
Charro Ignacio Anaya, of the Rancho Nuevo charro team, performs at the National Charro Championship in Morelia, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007.    (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)
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(Newser) – It's about equestrian skill, machismo, tradition, and, of course, sombreros: It's charreria, and it might be endangered. The centuries-old Mexican activity that mixes rodeo and fiesta is coming under fire in the US, where animal-rights activists have rallied for laws against practices like steer tailing and horse tripping. The New York Times visits California's Central Valley to check it out.

“I sometimes feel like we’re the witches in Massachusetts,” says a leader of a charreria federation. Supporters argue that many other sports, like horse racing, involve dangers to animals. The focus at the charreada is not speed or strength, as it is at American rodeos, but finesse and skill. "The charreada is a cultural practice," says a rodeo expert.