Sports can tell you a lot about a place and its people. Depending on where you are in America, people will say our national sport is either football, baseball, or basketball. But in Mexico, only one has been decreed as the official national sport of the country: charrería.
Consisting of nine separate events, charrería is a rodeo that showcases charros — or riders — who display feats of ranching dexterity, including riding, lassoing, and herding. But one event within charreria takes this beyond practical skills and into art: escaramuza. It first began as a group display of sidesaddle riding skills that paid homage to the Adelitas of the Mexican Revolution, women who would act as decoys to lure away enemy soldiers. One hundred years after that conflict, escaramuza competitions consist of eight women who ride around a circle-shaped arena to perform 12 distinct tricks. It’s dangerous and mesmerizing — like synchronized swimming, but on horseback.
When you're in the stands, it’s easy to see why escaramuza is so important to Mexico. Riders wear Mexican traditions on their clothes. The skills they display are ones that were crucial to Mexico’s history. Everything from the music played to the language spoken to the food served must be 100% Mexican. So, what happens when the riders don’t call Mexico their homes anymore?
A growing percentage of teams consist of Mexican-Americans who live and train in the United States, a place that’s becoming less inclined to build bridges with their southern neighbor in favor of walls.“Go back home” or “Speak English” have become our generation’s slurs du jour. For millions of people in the United States, it feels dangerous to celebrate their Mexican heritage — so what does it meant to double down on both homes, in a time when people are demanding that you pick a side?