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. (Read more rodeo stories.)