Bullfighting on Horseback

by Donna DeYoung

Whether or not you're opposed to bullfighting, there are few breeds of horse that are agile or brave enough to survive the onslaught of a "brave bull". The Spanish horse and specifically the Lusitano horse have been selectively bred over the years for their athletic ability. Thus they are able to accelerate, stop and turn swiftly in harmony with their rider.

Bullfighting, either by a matador or by a rejoneo (bullfighter on horseback) is popular in Spain and even more so in Portugal. Rejoneadores, equestrian bullfighters, perform in the bullring with their quick-turning horses up against dangerous brave bulls. Some of the most exciting work is done without the use or reins to control the horse.

The bullfight on horseback is interspersed with high school movements (airs above the ground and prancing such as the Spanish walk, piaffe, and passage) which attract further attention from the bull and crowd.

Bullfighting on horseback - torear a caballo - is not the same as rejonear a caballo..... Torear requires art, elegance and skill, while rejonear refers to placing rejones into the bull from the saddle. Nevertheless the general term for bullfighting on horseback is rejoneo.

Tremendous skill is required by the rider and horse in the bullring. Several outstanding bullfighters are Paco Ojeda, Juan Belmonte, Alvaro Domecq and Angel Peralta.

Originally sparring with bulls in the open country was used by the army for training riders during peacetime, a practice engaged in by both Arabs and Christians. Informal "corridas" arose with some dozen bulls that were killed almost immediately but the fight only lasted 7 or 8 minutes. By the 17th to 18th centuries, "toreo" or bullfighting on foot developed in Spain and gained popularity.

Both riders and horses train extensively prior to the bullfight. Fighting bulls are raised specifically for the sport and while kept at pasture must never encounter a person on foot.

Another sport which developed from the testing of bulls and cows in the fields is the riding with a "garrocha" - a long pole used to both keep the bulls at bay from the rider and horse and also to knock them down in the field.

Source: http://www.andalucia.com/bullfight/home.htm

Bullfighting Horse Reality

by Donna DeYoung

At the Spanish bullfight, the animal action begins when picadors, mounted upon “blindfolded horses in wretched condition” take their places as the bull enters the ring. The bull is already angry, as he has iron pins with the streamers of the colors of his breeder affixed to his shoulder. The bull attacks the mounted picadors, often wounding the horses to the “point of complete disembowelment.”

It is common for the bull to rush the horse with such force that he throws over both horse and rider. The more horses killed, the braver the bull. “About 6000 horses are killed every year in Spain.” At the sound of a trumpet the picadores leave the ring and the dead horses are dragged out behind a team of three mules.

According to Lyn Sherwood, publisher of an English-language bullfight magazine, horses used in bullfights are "shot behind the ear with dope. The horses are drugged and blindfolded and they're knocked down a lot."

These horses, who are often gored, usually have wet newspaper stuffed in their ears to impair their hearing, and their vocal cords are usually cut so their cries do not distract the crowd. Fight promoters claim the horses are "saved" from glue factories; this means these animals are often old, tired plow horses who end up being knocked down by bulls weighing up to a half a ton.

Because the attacking bulls sometimes caused the disembowelment of the horses, complete protective amour made of compressed cotton 3 inches (7.6 cm) thick encased in leather and canvas, was officially adopted in March 1930, thus virtually eliminating harm to the horses.


Compiled by Donna DeYoung, Pure Spanish (PRE) Andalusian Horse Breeder

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