In Mexico, to be a charro is to be known as a skilled horseman who proudly carries on such traditions as roping and handling cattle and horses. The charro performs La Charrería, a series of events held at the charreada, which is the Mexican equivalent of a rodeo.
Today, thousands of charros practice this sport within an organized group governed by the Mexican Charrería Federation. It includes more than 900 associations in Mexico. When the lienzos, or rings, fill up with music, color and fiesta to celebrate, hundreds of people gather together to feel the thrill of the suertes (events).
La Charrería is a uniting factor among many families that participate in this activity. Usually, the practice of this sport starts at a very early age. Children grow up to become charros because their father is a charro, like their grandfather and perhaps their great-grandfather.
Many charros ride a breed of horse called the Azteca. The horses begin training for the charrería at age three, and their career as a charro horse can run 12 to 15 years. A calm demeanor and strength are prized over speed.
The charro attire is made up of different types of garments that are classified into categories: work, semi-gala, gala and formal, depending upon the activity or event for which they are needed, but all consist of trousers and a jacket of plain cloth or suede, and a cotton shirt. Their attire is complemented with sombreros, hats made of straw or felt, which are artistically embroidered with silks or gold and silver thread, and are further decorated with small plates of silver, leather, bone or suede.
The tack and equipment used by the charro must be made of natural materials. The wood and leather saddle has a wide horn and two grips at the back. The reata, or lariat, is made of a plant called Lechunuilla and is of varying lengths and thicknesses as needed.