Charrería, the national sport of Mexico and a grandfather of the rodeo, originated among the Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century. Charros, or Mexican horsemen, adapted the equestrian contests of the Spaniards to produce a uniquely Mexican sport. By the nineteenth century these contests were essential elements of celebrations on large haciendas, becoming the weekend occassion to gather the family and visit friends.

Charrería was also influenced by the corridas, or bullfights, in the plazas de toros, where the coleaderos and jineteos de toros (bull riding) were first popularized.Charro sports were included in the corridas through the nineteenth century, and this helps to explain the presence of bull riding, which is not a ranching chore, in both rodeo and charrería.

When the large haciendas in Mexico were divided as a result of the Mexican Revolution, charros feared the demise of the tradition, and so they called a congreso in Mexico City on July 4, 1921, and founded the Asociación Nacional de Charros. In 1933 the Federación Nacional de Charros was founded in Mexico City, and in 1947,  the lienzo in San Antonio came to be, making it the first in the United States.

There are several marked differences between Rodeos and Charreadas.  Female teams participate in charreadas,  originated from the activites the children of charros would do at their fathers' competitions.  Another is that charreadas are in a round arena, and focuses on team sports, not individual points. 

There is ritual in charreada.  From the "Marcha Zacatecas," where the teams are presented to the audience, the judges, other members, and even the queen.  Here, there is prayer and the national anthem.

The ceremony starts with Cala, showing the agility of the horse.  The charro must gallop into the lienzo and rein his horse at a marked location, then turning the horse left, right, and backwards.

During the charreada, you see familiar events such as a variation of team roping, bull and bronco riding.  There is also piales and manganas, where the rider shows his lasso skill. 

. The final event is considered the most difficult, the paso de la muerte or "death pass," where the charro rides his tame horse bareback and attempts to jump onto a wild horse and ride it until it stops bucking.


Charrería: The National Sport of Mexico (photocopy, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin, 1970). Leovigildo Islas Escarcega, "Historical Synthesis of Charrería," Artes de México, 1967. Mary Lou LeCompte, "The Hispanic Influence on the History of Rodeo, 1823–1922," Journal of Sport History 12 (Spring 1985). Alfonso Rincón Gallardo, "Contemporary Charrería," Artes de México, 1967. Joe Torres, La Charreada, December 16, 1975 (videotape, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin). Maximo Vigil, "Mexican American Women Excel: La Charreada," La Luz, November 1978.

From workshops to rodeos,  our goal is to educate San Antonio about their little known history.

Every event is family oriented and educational.  Come by to see what we do.

Tours, School visits and Education

Our group is small and volunteer based,  if you would like for a school visit, or tour, please advise us 30 days from day of event to seek participants.