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What is a Mexican charro skirmish?

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  • The charrería for women began at the beginning of the 20th century and was practiced in the haciendas and ranches of Jalisco

With their elegance and courage, the escaramuzas or charro women from Jalisco, a state in western Mexico, make their way with a school that trains girls and adolescents in charrería, considered a national sport usually dominated by men.

The school formally opened its doors at the beginning of September, the month of the national holidays in Mexico, and is the first endorsed by the state government in an effort to instill in the youngest a love for skirmishes, a branch of the charrería that is practiced only by women.

Esther Venegas Rodríguez, originally from San Martín de Hidalgo, a municipality in the Valles de Jalisco region, told NCT on Wednesday that she has been riding a horse since she was little and about four years ago she dared to be a skirmish.

Her love for this aspect of charrería led her to promote the school in that town and she quickly had a response, not only from girls who already knew this sport, but from those who approached it for the first time.

Although it is a variant of the charrería, the skirmishes have their own identity and their own luck or exercises that require courage, extensive knowledge of horses, ability to direct them and a lot of coordination, she specified.

“With all the exercises, a routine is formed that gives us points in the competitions, but the most important thing is to have the courage to ride a horse. The girls already bring that love for horses, it is only necessary to train coordination and be attentive, “she explained.

Venegas Rodríguez has the smile and sincerity of the women of the town, where the charrería has its natural space, since in its origins, at the beginning of the 20th century, it was practiced in the haciendas and ranches of Jalisco, as an entertainment activity between the farmers and their workers.

The practice spread to other entities in the country and, over time, it also reached the cities.

In recent years, its practitioners have created organizations to professionalize this sport, declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2018.

LEARN WITH VALUE

Two or three times a week, a dozen girls between the ages of 10 and 15 get ready to go to the San Martín de Hidalgo charro canvas.

The girls have made this rodeo their own, where the charreadas or charrería days are held and which also functions as the school.

Instead of carrying a briefcase with their sports equipment, the girls arrive at the scene in a truck with a trailer. Inside is his horse, his partner, and to whom they owe, in part, their good performance in the team.

The students put on their training clothes, spurs, boots and comb their long hair, while their parents put the protectors on the legs of the horses and the packsaddle, a special saddle so that the skirmishers can sit sideways and perform the movements without falling.

In training they practice movements in which they must direct the horses. The rodeo is divided into four quarters from where they must come and go from the banks to the center and make flourishes, circles or the so-called “tails”, in which four skirmishes cross each other at full speed.

“The more dangerous an exercise is, the greater the concentration must be to avoid a fall or a collision between the animals. Coordination is the most important thing to be able to control the horses,” Stefany Celina López, skirmisher and mother of one of the girls on the team, explained.

She added that knowing the horse is essential for the skirmish, because if both do not have “chemistry” and “connection”, there will be no training worth.

CHARRAS SINCE GIRLS

As if riding a bicycle, the girls steer the horse while talking and laughing.

At the age of 13, Verónica Álvarez has been training with her horse for three years. She began to travel to Guadalajara to attend an association, but when she found out about the school she decided to sign up to compete.

“You form a second family with the members of the skirmish, some exercises are scary, but it is part of this to feel the adrenaline, the most difficult thing is to control fear, with the rest everything flows. I ride my horse and forget about everything,” she told.

Sara Guerrero Zárate is 13 years old and one of the most advanced students. She related that since she was a child she saw the charreadas and the women on horseback dressed in her colorful costumes caught her attention.

“It caught my attention more because of the horses than because of the sport. But when you start practicing it, you take a huge love for it that has you here in every training session. Other sports are nice, but I like being with my horse better, plus you represent Mexico,” she said.

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