THE MEXICAN AMERICAN CHARRO STEER WRESTLING CONTROVERSY

The boys, as soon as they can climb on a pony, are off to the prairie to drive stock. As they advance toward manhood their highest ambition is to conquer a pitching mustang or THROW A WILD BULL BY THE TAIL.” The Galveston News – August 16, 1866 (emphasis added) 

If their concern is with the charreadas, we’re concerned that they only affect steer tailing and not other professional rodeo events. We have no position on steer tailing because we don’t do that.” Attorney Robert Fox; Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s political lobbyist; Napa Valley Register – June 11, 2001 

Cowboys may not now, but they damn sure did back in the day. 

CHARRO: Original cowboy CHARRERÍA: Charro culture CHARREADA: Charro rodeo COLAS: Charro steer wrestling 

The objective of the following four cowboy rodeo events is to ground bovines; steer wrestling by the head, calf roping by the neck, team steer roping by the horns and heels, single steer busting by the horns and hind quarters. These cowboy rodeo events are all documented to have killed or caused euthanasia injuries to the animals involved. Charro steer wrestling brings down the animal using the tail, thus ‘steer tailing’. No credible evidence has been provided by the prosecution, on which the burden of proof rests, that colas have caused the death or serious injury to the animals in play. Colas are sanctioned by the American Quarter Horse Association. Colas are far less “cruel and brutal” than their cowboy counterpart cattle handling contests. Mr. Eric Mills, prominent and respected member of the animal welfare community and head of California based Action for Animals who has for years calved the reboot initiative to criminalize charro steer wrestling wrote in a March 24, 2008 published letter; “I remain convinced that calf roping, steer wrestling and steer roping (aka ‘steer busting’), all Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association sanctioned events, should be banned nationwide. The Humane Society of the U.S., American Humane Association and the ASPCA all concurYet, with unconcealed absence of equal justice under the law, none of the 15 cowboy related rodeo events have ever been placed on the docket 

in California or any of the other 49 states of the Northern Republic while charro rodeo events have been and are constantly targeted for extinction by the well funded animal rights activists and their legislative cronies. Is this a classic case of double-standardism? According to Webster ‘the Anglo-American cowboy can and the Mexican-American charro cannot rodeo’ is categorized as discriminatory, a term used to define racism. Enlightening when legal scholars are called upon to define “rodeo” for the purpose of legal text interpretation. Will it be read as generic or translated on the bases of country of origin. The Charro is not adverse to the cowboys and their rodeos but has underlined that historically they have been hesitant in offering any esprit de corps as manifested by PRCA lobbyist Attorney Fox. 

Mexican steer wrestling dates back to 16th century rodeos – Spanish for roundups. American revolutionaries Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry joined the Continental Congress to commend New Spain General Bernardo de Gálvez for his contribution to the defeat of the British by seizing a number of forts east of the Mississippi River under Redcoat control. This military campaign of the future Viceroy of New Spain, initiated in 1779, would not have been successful and Galvez’ name would have faded into the annals of historical oblivion along with Galveston, TX had it not been for the herding skills of the Mexican vaqueros who delivered 10,000 longhorns to General George Washington’s army extensively using the cattle control system of colas. This cattle management instrument was used during the 1800 ́s cattle trail drives north to the Kansas City and St. Louis railroad spurs for boxcar transport to Chicago and New York markets. When an ornery horned quadruped bolted from the herd attempting to blaze its own trail, a Mexican vaquero or an Anglo buckaroo would gallop parallel to the bovine and using its tail as a fulcrum, pull the steer to the ground. As the cloven-hoofed regained its footing, the wrangler would have doubled back and using graphic vocabulary that would make a sailor blush, coax the castrate back with its brethren. 

If any cowhand was directly responsible for a ‘doggies’ fatality the value would be docked from his slave labor wages; an indisputable incentive not to harm any of the trail bosses cattle. TV’s ‘Rawhide’, starring Clint Eastwood as the 1860’s cowpuncher Rowdy Yates that launched his brilliant cinema career, exposed this ranching animal welfare tenet to its audience long before animal rights became chic. 

Colas became popular leisure entertainment on ranchos and haciendas across Mexico. In 1860 legendary Mexican charro and future novelist Luis G. Inclán penned rules that structured cola competitions, describing these in his bestselling novel, years later made into a major motion picture, ASTUCIA: Charros Contrabandistas de la Rama (1865). Considered the Alma Mater of charro associations that flouriest in post revolutionary and agrarian reformed Mexico, the Asociación Nacional de Charros in 1921included colas as a primo event in what was then called jaripeos, now charreadas – Mexican charro rodeos. 

Animal rights extremists have long branded the charro, his rodeo events, including colas, as “cruel and brutal” among a catalog of epithets. According to these animal rights crusaders, the charro kills THOUSANDS of animals during his steer wrestling event; fatal injuries encompass cracked skulls, broken necks, backs, shoulders, hips, ribs, limbs, teeth, punctured lungs, hematomas. They also include ‘degloving’ interpreted by these people as a charro ripping a steer’s tail off from its root! The problem here is that the activists have never presented any impartial evidence that would support their diatribes. The Mexican American Classic Charrería Organization (MACCHO) along with others from the stateside charro community have for decades cordially invited these militants to monitor charreadas. With not a hoof to stand on, the more lame excuse for not monitoring is that the charro lienzos (charro rodeo arenas) are clandestine, are underground, are “backyard” events and therefore cannot be programmed on GPS screens and attended by the general public or animal rights infiltrators, agitators and spymasters. The charro arena alone (shaded in red on following image) covers 8,058 sq. ft. of property, a football field in length. 

This does not include cattle alleyways, corrals, stables, hay and feed storage facilities, stablehand living quarters, loading ramps, office space, spectator seating, concession booths, rough stock chutes, judges/announcers box, mariachi stage, all-purpose recreational area, WC’s, parking for stock contractors 18 wheelers, horse trailers with 2, 4, 6, 8 capacity hitched to pickup trucks, vehicles in general, squadrons of animal salvage ambulances; and in order to remain underground – clandestine cattle graveyards. Some backyard! Lienzo owners need construction permits, pay property taxes, IRS filings, electricity and water bills, city/county waste management services, food vendor permits, liquor licenses to sell Tecate and tequila; a well paved paper trail for those interested in locating any lienzo anywhere. Additionally, it is doubtful that the VP for North American Affairs representing the Federación Mexicana de Charrería (FMCH), the principal charro umbrella institution, as well as the Presidents of the State Union of Charro Associations will not be averse to provide information regarding charreadas. Also, lest we forget, charreadas are promoted via major and minor Mexican media outlets, 9 of the 13 charro states have websites publicizing forthcoming charreadas, all the way down to homemade flyers and posters that sketch easy to follow maps. Hard to hide in plain sight the 227 registered stateside charro lienzos. One wonders how these animal rights proponents reach their yearly holocaustic death and destruction bovine fatality numbers never having attended a charreada. Therefore, at future hearings regarding antagonistic attempts to criminalize any of the 9 charro events, if during closing arguments the activists swear they cannot provide provocative evidence because they were unable to monitor backyard charreadas, the governing panel of legislators can dismiss this evasive nonsense provided by the animal rights advocates and perhaps sue the aforementioned for squandering the juries already overtaxed agendas. 

Statistics regarding charro rodeo are few and far between but through our exhaustive research we have been able to produce reasonably reliable if conservative figures. In 2020 there were 227 charro associations across 13 Union states affiliated with the FMCH. Dividing this number into 2 team charreadas (114) multiplied by 3 cola runs for each of 6 competitors for each month during a 5 month season generates 10,260 runs. Using this formula to calculate the number of cola runs from 1968 through 2020 produces 235,221 runs. The first 2 stateside charro associations were founded in the mid 

50’s, one in Chicago and one in San Antonio, growing to 11 by 1968 (IL 6, IN 1, CA 2, TX 2). Prior to ‘68 the numbers are of limited consequence for our study and therefore left out here. We have used the available number of stateside charro associations as an anchor for our estimates; these would be augmented if the following were considered: 

• State, regional and national finals, 

• Cola Tournaments popular during charro association anniversary celebrations with between 15 and 35 participants (average 20 contestants x 3 runs each x 227 associations = 13,620 runs), 

• although the Charro Rulebook only allows for 3 coleadores per team at official competitions at unofficial strictly friendly competitions 5 charros per team is an accepted practice in order to allow more charros to compete, 

• the number of associations not enrolled with the FMCH; a 2014 survey showed 50 in Alta California and 35 in Texas. Statistics for independent groups such as the National American Charro Association (NACHA) are not available. Statistics are also unavailable for the at least 6 additional charro states not registered with any organization, 

• because of overall mild weather, California, leading in the number of stateside associations, has an 8 month rodeo season. Depending on weather conditions other states may enjoy extended seasons, 

• tryouts, qualification runs, and practice sessions. 

For those who are persuaded to believe that the charro sacrifices 1,000 cola bovines each year, activists – DO THE MATH! Using the 2020 estimate of 10,260 runs, the 1,000 animal rights dead steer benchmark is equal to just under 10% or a rounded-off 9 carcasses for each 2 team charreadas. The corriente breed of cattle, used by both the charro and cowboy for their steer wrestling events, sells for an average of $650 a head (2020 prices). This would mean the charros would have to pay the stock contractor $5,850 to replenish his herd after each charreada. Taking into account that the overwhelming majority of associations barely breakeven after staging a charreada – an extremely expensive passion – the added cost would have put the charro out of business decades ago – much to the delight of the animal rights fanatics we venture to guess. 

Mr. Mills drafted a bill endorsed in 2000 that requires an onsite/on-call veterinarian at all rodeos, charro or cowboy, and for the attending DVM’s to file a report with the California Veterinary Medical Board of any and all injuries suffered on rodeo stock. Immediately after the ordinance took effect, animal injuries at the California Salinas Rodeo were detailed but not reported to the CVMB. Dr. Tim Eastman the Salinas Rodeo official veterinarian first claimed he was ignorant of the much heralded ruling. He was reminded that; “Ignorance of law excuses no one”, a doctrine dating from early Roman Rule. Even after these transgressions, no inquiry was convened by the CVMB to address the discrepancies and no passed due reports were demanded. The Salinas Rodeo is next to celebrating its 110th anniversary featuring all cowboy rodeo events, without any legal restrictions, save the unenforced onsite/on-call mandate. In a blatant example of criminal noncompliance, in 2013 SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) video-documented 23 bovine injuries at the Salinas rodeo but only 3 were underreported by the now updated Dr. Eastman. Between 2005 and 2015 reports filed with the CVMB numbered 47 – all cowboy, one charro – and for some unknown reason included the non-injury equine colic gastrointestinal condition. Mr. Mills was incredulous of this figure. With more than 3 decades following rodeo he has announced that there must be an average of 50 injury reports per year in California, not 50 for colas alone but 50 distributed between the 9 charro and 15 cowboy rodeo related events. Nationwide there have been but a handful of “documented” charro animal slaughter allegations during the last 25 years all publicly refuted by members of our organization, none subsequently challenged by charro antagonists. 

We must never assume that which is incapable of proof.” G.H. Lewes 

Because animal rights belligerents had found it so difficult to monitor the annual animal profit & loss during charreadas, in 2007 a written suggestion was made to the charro hierarchy that all the Board of Directors of stateside affiliated associations include a statistician whose purpose would be to catalog the number of charreadas held in corresponding venues forwarded periodically to a data base necessarily 

projecting the number of steer wrestling runs among other statistics all accompanied by a transparent register of animal injuries. This information would prove vital when charros be required to defend themselves before legislative panels convoked to criminalize or not charro rodeo events. Had the statistician protocol been in place during the 2008/09 Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska racist fueled debacle, the criminalization by the State of half of the charreada events would have almost certainly been avoided. The charro would be amiss to declare that no steers suffered an accident during the five decade 235,221 cola runs, accident defined as; “An unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally…” It is easy for animal rights extremists to CLAIM a 10% annual charro animal slaughter. Quite different to DOCUMENT the percentage of animals having suffered an accident during charreadas most probably illustrated with a chain of 0 ́s to the right of a decimal point locked into place with a fraction or even a not impossible resounding ZERO. (A 2000 survey of PRCA rodeos conducted by independent DVM’s from the National Animal Interest Alliance documented 0.053% non-fatal animal injuries in 71,743 exposures.) Of course, animal rights rocket scientists will attempt to invalidate any stats the charro provides but unless the opponent can produce their own documented numbers the charro will prevail before any competent unbiased authority. 

Animal rights protagonists have offered a horse trader compromise in order to drop all charges against the Charro steer wrestling event: change the cola into a catch-release; follow the steer down the runway, catch its tail, wrap it around the ankle, and then release it avoiding the animals fall. This suggestion has been taken under serious advisement and will be addressed immediately after the cowboy swaps his rough stock for mechanical bulls and broncs, uses a motorized steer wrestling dummy instead of live cattle, adopts the girls breakaway catch-release calf roping to replace his spectacular if controversial tie- down calf roping event, and include the underexposed (‘backyard’?) PRCA sanctioned marquee event of Single Steer Busting on the National Finals program at the Las Vegas Thomas & Mack Center. 

According to animal rights partisans the more prevalent of all of the alleged cola atrocities (cracked sculls, broken bones, etc.) committed, the charro’s nemesis cite deglovings as the bases for their outrage and eternal campaign to criminalize charro steer wrestling. Degloving, aka “docking”, is defined as the surgical removal of the tail mass from an animal. This procedure is used extensively in the sheep industry, on dozens of canine breeds, and on horses – the Budweiser Clydesdales. In order to perpetuate the portrayal of the charro as a horror show bloodthirsty ogre, the activists accuse the Mexican steer wrestler of enjoying tearing off steer tails and using the trophy for tailgating oxtail soup. “Action for Animals argues steers’ tails are often pulled off during the event, though no proof of that statement was ever given.” (Napa Valley Register, June 11, 2001) We challenge the animal rights cartel to document with CSI forensic evidence of ONE case of a charro manually severing a bovine tail in the last 500 years of his equestrian culture. Again, with tall tails and misdemeanors, cases of the ponytail tassel-like extension, called a switch or brush, of the steer’s tail mass or dock to become disconnected during a cola run are alluded to. This is not a DVM issue, is not lethal, is self healing. This occurs more frequently on the open range when the brush gets tangled on barbed wire or thorny knotted vegetation – chaparrals – hence chaps from Spanish chaparreras. Some cattle breeds are more susceptible to switch loss, Brahmas for example. Debrushed cattle can be seen in some of cowboy painter Charles M. Russell’s works, images that have nothing to do with steer wrestling. 

Another point of reference making the animal rights dead steer baseline unattainable is the example that at the last Charro National Finals, where the most accomplished steer wrestlers competed, the no-scores for not grounding the adversary exceeded 25%. 

Debrushed cattle are commonly called chincolas in Spanish speaking countries including those that do not practice tail steer wrestling. Africans commercialize switches as fly swats; ranchers use these as boot dusters. 

Animal rights sturmtuppes relish their conquests over the charro with high-five victory laps. But it is not in their best interest to tell the whole story. ¿Fake news? Yes; in 2009 Nebraska was the first state to criminalize Mexican steer wrestling. This was largely due to the fact that Cornhusker legislators schemed behind smoke filled closed door rooms to accede to pressure from the campaign contribution friendly animal rights organizations. Incongruence appears as Nebraskan lawmakers on the one hand were HORRIFIED by rumors of the charros slaughter of cattle but did not hesitate giving a standing ovation when $160.9 million in beef/veal products were exported to Mexico in 2019, products including tails, tongues and testicles. These politicians used fast track tactics of filing their bill draft with no fanfare and keeping hearing scheduling close to the vest leaving the charro virtually no time to prepare a defense violating his due process rights. Nebraska’s ‘Big Rodeo’ celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021 featuring, without any legal restrictions, all cowboy rodeo events. The collusion between activists and legislators against the charro has been standard in the pursuit of anti-charro laws. Yes; in 1993 the California counties of Alameda and Contra Costa criminalized colas but what is not voiced is that in 2008 to a SRO charro packed audience the California Santa Clara County Board unanimously pigeonholed a Mexican steer wrestling ban. Yes; at the August 6, 2013 hearing, the Clark County (Las Vegas) Board of Commissioners arbitrarily criminalized 4 charro rodeo events including colas with neither the Board nor the activists addressing any of the array of cowboy rodeo issues. Ms. Gina Greisen, president of the Nevada Voters for Animals, who spearheaded the anti-charro initiative, when asked during a BBC interview why she hadn’t also lobbied against cowboy rodeo she responded; “Regular (cowboy) rodeo is awful too but try to take on the (PRCA’s) National Finals Rodeo, I mean, that brings huge amounts of money to southern Nevada.” This hypocrisy may be attributed to the fact that Clark County’s Sin City, hosting the PRCA’s National Finals for the last 35 years, featuring, without any legal restrictions, all standard cowboy rodeo events, is not unfamiliar with “comping” her high rollers…or in the case of Ms. Greisen, of high rollovers. The house always wins. 

There are hundreds of community, state, and national animal rights coalitions with thousands of card carrying members and tens of thousands of sympathizers and volunteers. One would think that this politically powerful gestapo could monitor charreadas to either end their fact famine or produce hard, concrete, conclusive, beyond a reasonable doubt, stand-up-in-court, So Help You God, preponderance of evidence to sustain their accusations that the Caballero Cowboy, the Charro, delights in abusing animals. There must be a voice of censure, a prosecutorial ‘Where’s the beef?!’ stampede of queries when lawmakers are obliged to scrutinize initiatives to criminalize Mexican steer wrestling. Legislators must 

DEMAND that plaintiffs provide the burden of proof the law demands against the defendant clear of conjecture, old wife’s tales, third-party hearsay, gossip, vile lies, which would otherwise only be admissible in a kangaroo court. To what degree will the activists prey on ignorance to advance their agenda? At the 02:13 mark of the October 15, 2016 ‘Rodeo is Animal Cruelty’ video, referring to the flank strap (verijero) used on bucking bulls, the narrator states; “…which means the rope is cinched tightly across his (the bulls) penis.” (anatomically impossible) 

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore leaves a carbon footprint every time he fly’s around the world in his private jet peddling his climate change leaflet An Inconvenient Truth, findings disputed by world renowned ecosystem scientists. What they all agree upon however is the inconvenient truth that cow flatulence is the major contributor to global warming. Extremists on the one side, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, would sponsor the concept allowing cows to meander the streets of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles untethered and without cow pie diapers à la India. At the other extreme, including Marxist driven U.S. Congressperson from NY Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, all cows would be slaughtered globally in order to save a couple of carnivorous polar bears. Is it not extreme then to castrate 500 years of Mexican equestrian tradition because of a couple supposed debrushings? Do the rights of the Charro to rodeo end where animal rights begin? 

Myth is gossip grown old” Stanislaw Jerzy Lec 

Legislators and animal rights promoters alike should not misappropriate their most valuable time and circle their wagons prioritizing and concentrating on more pressing animal welfare issues and not collaborate with the endorsement of the Charro the Hun animal pogrom mythistory: rally against the current federal administrations campaign to weaken and not enforce wildlife and endangered species protection laws (Source: Washington Post); finally implementing the Federal law regarding dog fights, a blood sport at epidemic levels throughout the USA, with trainers abducting family mascots to use as bait (ASPCA estimates 40,000 dog fighting syndicates nationwide. Math: 1 syndicate x matches per year = 1 dead dog per match x 40,000 syndicates = “hundreds of thousands” of dead dogs – again according to ASPCA); the prohibition of inhumane puppy mills; a Congressional Oversight Committee to monitor the 

Department of the Interior’s federal Bureau of Land Management’s “Adopt a Horse” program that allows horsemeat suppliers dressed in sheep’s clothing to adopt wild equines turning around and a handsome profit selling the adoptees to slaughter houses (Source: Chicago Tribune). An option to avoid a laudable but failed “Adopt a Horse” agenda is to vote in favor of the persistent initiative to allow the legal sale of “federally protected” American mustangs and burros with a slay quota of NINETY THOUSAND. (Source: SaveWildHorsesNow.org) There oughdabe a law. 

Edward F. Ramírez Mexican American Classic Charrería Organization 

No somos muchos pero sí somos MACHOS’ 

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