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Bull Riding

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Today marks the last day for the celebration for La Asunción.  There is a jaripeo (bull riding event) during the day and a dance at night.

Unfortunately, right when the jaripeo is set to begin it begins pouring rain.  While there are covered stands, the jaripeo ring is open and the bulls aren’t run in the heavy rain.  So, the event is delayed for quite some time and we get caught in other things, eating, giving Benjamin a nap, and the like.  So, when the rain finally breaks, we’re not set to go and don’t finally make it up there until at least an hour after it finally started.  And by the time we get there, the rain has started up again, alternating between a drizzle and a rain hard enough to stop the rides.  It’s still fun, but with the rain, I’m glad the event doesn’t run but maybe for another hour after we arrive.

The bulls [gu’na] have been gathered both locally and brought in from Oaxaca.  They are tied to the fence behind the jaripeo ring.  There is only one gate leading into the ring and only one shoot, so it takes some time between rides to get the current bull out and the next one in.  Since the rides are so short, it can be a little dull waiting between rides, except with the feistier bulls (my dad, a former ranch hand, would call them rank, in MacZ the term is [xuusi]), this can actually be quite entertaining in its own right.  I was worried one bull might have worn himself out before he was ever ridden.  But it turned out, I needn’t have worried.  He gave a spirited ride, too much of one actually.  He ran his rider into the fence, hurting the guy’s leg.  The rider had to be carried out of the ring and was taken to an ambulance the town owns which was waiting by the ring in case of emergencies.  They eventually drove him off, but as far as I could understand he wasn’t hurt too badly.

In general, the rides proceed a little differently than what I am used to for bull riding in the United States.  I am not sure if this is the result of it being an amateur event or differing traditions.  In a previous jaripeo I attended in Zaachila, I recall the riders consistently holding on with both hands, which initially seemed like a cop out compared to the one-handed riding I’m familiar with.  But after a while (most riders hadn’t lasted long enough for me to notice), I realized an important difference:  they didn’t just have to hang on for eight seconds.  They were supposed to stay on until the bull gave up and stopped.  That certainly seems more challenging, and I like the objectivity of it.  You don’t have to worry about a judge’s scoring.

Things seem a little looser in the Macuil jaripeo.  An announcer does call out the seconds, but again the riders are expected to stay on as long as the bull keeps going.  Sometimes, when the bull gives up too quickly, the ropers in the arena try to get a little more ride out of him, twisting his tail or poking him with a cattle prod.

It seems there is more variation in riding style from what I recalled in Zaachila.  Most riders probably did go two-handed, but one guy rode one-handed with his other hand in the air in the style I am more familiar with, and one rider, I guess he didn’t get a very rank bull, didn’t use his hands at all; he just held himself on with his knees.

In the evening, there is the final event for La Asunción.  A dance is held in the gymnasium.  Even though I am not a big dancer, I was interested in going, but as the time draws near (it probably starts around 10), we are all just too tired for some reason to bother.  Maybe we will have to go to some other dance.

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