Verónica Dávila started riding horses at the age of three. By age four she was competing in escaramuzas, synchronized riding demonstrations, in Monterrey, Mexico. Verónica wore this colorful dress in the early 2000s as captain of the escaramuza team Las Valentinas in San Antonio, Texas.
The dress tells a story of girls' strength as highly skilled riders and the Mexican American community's efforts to preserve and promote charrería—a rich transnational tradition of the U.S. Southwest rooted in Mexican and Mexican American ranch life and culture of the 1700s and 1800s.
Girls competing in escaramuzas wear stunning traditional outfits inspired by the fearless Adelitas, women fighters in the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). Ensembles follow strict guidelines to preserve historical and cultural authenticity. Skirts must cover the horse's haunches and allow the team to perform dangerous maneuvers at high speeds while riding sidesaddle. Girls also don the emblematic sombrero charro, a broad-brimmed hat designed to provide relief from the blistering heat of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
Escaramuzas started in the 1950s, but became recognized as girls-only competitive events in 1992. Escaramuzas expand the boundaries of the male sport of charrería. Escaramuza competitions are scored on skill, grace, and elegance. As escaramuza charras, girls reclaim their Mexican cultural heritage and affirm their Mexican American identity.
A Family Tradition Charrería
Charrería is Mexico's national sport and an enduring tradition of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands that is passed down from generation to generation. Charro associations and escaramuza teams in the United States register with the Mexican Federation of Charrería (Federacíon Mexicana de Charrería, FMCH) in Mexico. The FMCH is responsible for regulating the sport's practice.