stated in the Mexican Federation of Charreria regulations code, the cala
event is a demonstration of reining and horse control, tameness;
its about the horse's spirit, the power of the mount. As we all know, cala,
which is the first event of the charreria, is also known as the silence
one. It's been given this name because when doing the act, horse and rider
must be absolutely concentrated, synchronized, working together as a team,
as if they were an extension of each other –a perfect match. This moment
must not be interrupted or followed by any cheers or singing mariachis
until the very end.
an effort to keep you informed, CHARRO USA and I, your host, would be conducting
a series of interviews with experienced charros, who'd be sharing with
us how they keep mastering their skills in order to execute the events
of the charreada. For this article, we talked to two caladores, one professional
and one who merely practices it for fun. We're talking about Francisco
Zermeno, or Pancho, who won first place in cala in the 2005 National competition,
and Aldo Cuevas Perez, who's been state champion for several years.
are inside the Lienzo Charro de los Regionales de Villa A.C., enjoying
the company of these two caladores.
USA: Pancho, how do you choose your mounts?
ZERMENO: Mexico, as you know, has very few horse breeders. What I do, then,
is to go out there and try to select the best colts based on their individual
characteristics, lineage and other factors that I also pay very close attention
USA: How long does it take you to have a well-trained reining colt?
ZERMENO: It all depends of the horse's abilities as no two horses are alike
or share the exact same traits, but I'd say about a year for basics, and
as time goes by, the horse keeps getting better at it.
USA: How do you start breaking in a colt?
ZERMENO: It's a family secret.
USA: Ha, Ha, Ha!
ZERMENO: Well, I think the best way to start a horse is by using the false
rein, as it's been the tradition. Once the horse gets used to it, it should
be given the bit so it can feel it and taste it too. Then the horse
is ready for the two reins until it becomes accustomed to.
USA: What's your opinion about the levers and the tlacualejo horse-bits
that are currently used?
ZERMENO: They're good. The only problem is that not many people know what
they're for or their correct use, so instead of helping their mounts they
sometimes spoil them.
USA: Pancho, nowadays there's a growing demand, dedication and concern
for registered horses, their pedigree, working lines and so forth. Which
horses do you favor the most, the reining ones or those of corte (bloodline?)
ZERMENO: Look, personally I like those of corte (bloodline?) because they
have a little more spirit than reining horses. Indeed, I prefer high-spirited
horses for the cala event.
USA: Pancho, is there anything else you'd like to ad?
ZERMENO: I'd just to thank you and CHARRO USA for the interview, I'm here
to help in anyway I can. I would also like to send a salute to all of the
Zermeno, during the Nacional Charro Apaseo 2006, defending the colors of
the Charros de Polotitlan of Javier Basurto.
family, as you probably noticed, during the interview we used terms that
perhaps you might find new, so we did a little research and here are some
of the definitions.
Rienda or False Rein: horsehair muzzle with headstall and reins, which
primarily function is to make a horse get used to reins.
el Freno or Feeling the Bit: A colt is given a bit without any reins so
it gets used to its taste and feeling.
Riendas or Two Reins: when the colt in training begins to be pulled back
with the false rein and then with the bit reins.
o Tlacualejos Bits: a variety of articulated bits, not required to charrear,
but very useful to correct some mistakes, especially when reining horses
or one that has difficulties getting used to the charro bit.
now talking with Aldo Cuevas.
USA: Aldo, tell us about your beginnings in the Charreria.
CUEVAS: Well, all of my family has been practicing charreria for a long
time and I feel very proud to practice it as well; it's the national sport
USA: Tell us how you prepare for each event.
CUEVAS: I try to spend the most time I can with my horses, getting used
to them, and I also like to be with people who have a lot of experience
in this field so they can share with me their knowledge.
USA: What have been, so far, your major accomplishments in the Charreria?
CUEVAS: Ah, thanks to God, I've won individual championships in the cala
USA: Did it give you great satisfaction?
CUEVAS: Well, more than personal satisfaction it's been the result of great
sacrifices. Because for anyone to excel in this event, you need to have
an awesome contact with your mounts, as well as being in very good shape
and put a lot of heart and dedication into it.
USA: How do you prepare your mounts for the event?
CUEVAS: I'm constantly working with them. I also send them to Pancho Zermeno,
who helps me correct both mine and my horse's mistakes, and as I just told
you, I like to put a lot of effort and dedication into it.
USA: Aldo, would you like to ad something to the interview?
CUEVAS: Indeed, I want to thank you for doing this as well as sending a
salute to all of my charro families, especially to those of very young
charros. I hope they're putting a lot of heart into becoming charros so
our breed of horsemen does not become extinct.
Cuevas, defending the colors of Regionales de la Villa in Apaseo 2006.
charro family, I hope you've enjoyed this article. We'll see you
in the next edition where we would be discussing the charro event los piales
en el lienzo, in which team members attempt to rope an animal's hind legs.
like to end, just like I imagine my good friend and colleague, Carlos Sanchez,
would end (by the way, I send him my most sincere regards):
te toca la cala con caballo bien arrendado, de destreza hay que hacer gala,
pero hacerla con cuidado.
you perform the cala event with a well-trained reining horse, show off
your skill, but show it off carefully.