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The old tradition

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As a boy growing up on a farm in Michoacan, Mexico, Roberto Torres (pictured, left) dreamed of one day owning an Andalusian horse from Spain and competing in a charreada, or Mexican rodeo.

After moving to Denver in 1969 and becoming the owner of a successful chain of Las Delicias Mexican restaurants, Torres made his dream come true. He owns a stable of horses in Lakewood, including Impetuoso, the horse of his dreams.

For six years, Torres has brought charreada to the state fair in Pueblo, where charros, or Mexican-style cowboys, ride and rope to earn scores based on both style and execution.

Torres says he organizes the rodeo "for the old tradition" that he is passing down to his son, Roberto (at right). Riding and roping, he maintains, give young people a chance to escape the pitfalls of growing up on the streets.

"You get them on horses and you get them involved," he says.

Torres and his son both rode Andalusian horses at last Sunday's state fair competition in Pueblo.

The key difference between American rodeo and charreada lies mostly in the degree of showmanship involved. While competing, charros must wear traditional clothing evocative of hacienda-era Mexico. They use longer ropes, perform elaborate tricks and compete primarily for prestige.

"The events are a whole lot different," says Hadley Barrett, a pro rodeo announcer who provided the English commentary during the bilingual event. "They take care in their dress, equipment and authenticity of saddle."

-- Dan Wilcock

Photo by Sarah Jane Griesemer


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