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THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARRERIA
by:Randy Janssen

 

             IN DEFENSE OF MANGANAS AND COLAS

(WHAT PETA CALLS HORSE TRIPPING AND BULL TAILING)

Recently many animal groups are trying to ban what PETA calls horse tripping and bull tailing. I donít believe they understand the reality of the charreada or these events. When I first became involved in Charreria, I was shocked at the sight of the manganas and colas. I had ridden english and then western for many years and could not understand how horses could be treated that way. After being involved with charros and charreria for almost twenty years, I came to understand that the Mexican Vaquero had cared for large animals on big ranches for over five hundred years and that his methods, which appear to be cruel, are in fact humane and calculated to be less stressful on animals then other methods of control.

Colas or "bull tailing", does less damage to a steer then throwing a rope around its neck and hanging it while you drag it to some location. This is because, a bull can be maneuvered like a sail boat. You use the tail to control it, and when you have the animal where you want it, you drop it by putting your leg over the tail and moving your horse away from it. Yes the animal hits the ground, but its not yanked from the head and hoof like team roping, snapped back like calf roping, or jerked by its neck to the ground like bull dogging.

Most people cannot tell the difference between Piales, or catching the two back legs of a running horse, and manganas. In Piales, you catch the hind legs of a running mare and bring it to a stop. This is probably one of the most dangerous events in Charreria for the CHARROS, not the horses. Thatís because you have to train yourself and your horse, to catch the hind legs, while your horse turns at the same time and you wrap the rope around the saddle horn without getting your thumb or hand caught between the rope and the saddle horn. (you can always tell a pialeador by the damage to his right hand and thumb) Then you have to allow the rope to flow smoothly maintaining enough tension to not drop the animal, but still stop it. The trauma on the horse is minimal. In almost twenty years of watching Charreadas, I have never seen a horse hurt in this event.

Manganas, or what PETA calls horse tripping, is a lot less traumatic to the horse, then throwing a loop around a horses neck, like they did in the old westerns. Catching the two front legs and brining it down is no more dangerous to the horse, then a shoe string tackle in high school football and a lot less dangerous, then having a one hundred fifty pound quarterback hit by two, two hundred fifty pound linemen as happens on any given Friday night during football season. I have seen over three hundred horses dropped in mangana. One horse died. Nobody knows why. It happened just like some men drop dead during basic training or a boy dies during a high school football game. Does this mean you should outlaw basic training or high school football.

The fact is very few people die in basic training or high school football. The same is true of manganas. On over three hundred occasion that I have personally seen, after the horses were caught, the animal got up and trotted away. This is because manganas is meant to be safer on the horse then capturing it by the neck. It might not seem so, but if you catch both legs and bring them to the side, the animal will go down on the knees first, and then the side. This does not have the same effect of tying a wire around the legs and leading it straight back to make the horse fall forward, just like they used to do in the movies. (If you really want to see horses dropped like that rent the Charge of the Light Brigade) Manganas are actually closer to what they do now, when they train the horse to fall on its side.

There is a video by PETA, which they claim caused Illinois to outlaw mangana. If you look at it though, you do not seen mangana in its entirety. That is, from the time the Charro starts his florero, until the horse trots away after its been knocked down. The reason they do this, is because PETA does not want you to know the truth. The fact is, the Charros do not want to hurt animals.


Randy Janssen

Again, in almost twenty years of being a Charro, Iíve seen very few animals hurt. First, because itís expensive. If a horse or steer is maimed you have to pay for it. Second, because the tradition of the charro is caring for stock. It serves no purpose to hurt it. Iím not saying their genteel with animals, but these are large and dangerous creatures. A bull, a steer or even a horse can hurt you. I have the scars to prove it. Iíve been steeped on, kicked, bitten and thrown, and some of this was done by so called trained animals who spooked or got frightened. Iíve also had bulls and steers charge me while I was on foot and horse back. When this happened I got the impression that they wanted to do some serious injury to me.

Large animals are not a terriers, or a cocker spaniels. They have to have some control or they can hurt you. While you might meet some people who claim to be a horse whisperer, Iíve never heard of a bull whisperer. Furthermore, gates and fences can contain these animals to some extent, its imperative to maintain the knowledge of handling large animals, that is the tradition of charreadas, for instances when the modern implements are not available.

The opponents of charreadas claim that it is a show or sport. While in Mexico, I once called the events or suertes in a charreada sporting events and asked why they were not part of the Olympics. I was quickly admonished that a charreada is not a sport. It is a tradition. It is an integral part of the Mexican and the older Spanish heritage. A gentleman in Mexico is a caballero or horseman. Even the brakes on a vehicle are called frenos. This is what a bit for a horse is called in Spanish. The relationship between men and horses is part of the Mexican psyche. Just look at the charro movies of Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante, Antonio Aguilar, and Vicente Fernandez. It is the same type of adventure that was made by Roy Rodgers and John Wayne. Itís the tradition of each country and in both cases its worthy of preservation.

I might suggest, you should go to a Charreada and see what really happens. Itís interesting to see the difference between the western rodeo and charreada. In the western rodeo you see the Anglo-Saxon emphasis on utility. Get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible. In charreada, the emphasis is on style. The florero, or rope twirling when done well is fascinating. When you add that to the horsemanship, you have a sight to behold.

One thing though, Charreada is not for the squeamish. If you donít want to know where your steak came from, donít go. If you think all Godís creatures, including rats have rights, donít go. If you think lions really will lie down with lambs, donít go.

On the other hand, if you think that the tradition of rodeo and the character it preserves is good, then go. If you think that men were meant to meet adversity and conquer it, then go. If you think you would like to see rope work where a man twirls the rope around himself, the leaps through it twice, before he catches the horse, then go. Finally:

IF YOU LIKE RODEO

YOUíLL LOVE CHARRERIA

Randy Janssen

 
 

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