In Hot Spanish Nights, the hero Damian Xeres is a master horseman and a rejoneador — those brave men who fight the fierce Iberian bulls on horseback. The photo is how I imagined Damian. Hot huh?
The links are to videos of rejoneadors in action!
Rejoneador and Palomino stallion (most likely Lusitano).
A wall painting unearthed at Knossos in Crete, dating from about 2000 BC, shows male and female acrobats confronting a bull, grabbing its horns as it charges, and vaulting over its back.
The art of bullfighting on horseback, as currently practiced in Portugal, where it is called toureio equestre and in Spain and Mexico, where it is called rejoneo, claims a direct origin to the Iberian Peninsula, having developed from Middle Ages war exercises, particularly the cavalry.
Coridas mixtas are also popular, where a rejoneador and two matadores (or a rejoneador, matador and novillero – the last of which is an apprentice matador) perform.
Bullfighting in Spain traces its origins to 711 A.D. The first bullfight took place in celebration for the crowning of King Alfonso VIII. In Spain, an estimated one million people each year watch bullfights.
Until King Felipe V, who took exception to the sport) banned the aristocracy from participating, the sport belonged to the nobility. The King believed that aristocrats in bullfights set a bad example to the public. Commoners enthusiasticlly adopted the sport, but since few could afford horses, took the fight to the ground, confronting the bull on foot, and modern corrida began to take form.
Today’s bullfight is much the same as it has been since about 1726, when Francisco Romero of Ronda, Spain, introduced the estoque (the sword) and the muleta (the small, more easily wielded worsted cape used in the last part of the fight).
During a performance, rejoneadores often ride several horses:
- A parade horse – physically attractive and disciplined
- A horse for the first tercio (entrance of bull) – very fast and brave.
- A horse for the second tercio (banderillas) – fast, agile, and a natural instinct for fooling the bull
- A horse for the third tercio (death of bull) – very steady
Bullfighting horses are highly trained to swerve instantly, yet remain calm when charged by a fierce, angry bull. The must possess an extreme dose of bravura, agility, and obedience.
A rejoneador’s usual costume consists of a dark waistcoat (usually brown or grey), brown leather chaps and a broad, straight-brimmed hat.
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