Alumna and Photographer Minta Maria Captures Spirit of Traditional Mexican Rodeos

For two seasons, San Antonio-based photographer Minta Maria, BJ ’04, has documented the local charreada, a traditional Mexican rodeo that originated in the 16th century among Spanish conquistadors. Her project, titled “Nativo,” is an intimate, ongoing portrait of the family-friendly Sunday afternoon events that include team roping, bull riding, and culminate in the paso de muerte, in which the charro, or Mexican horseman, leaps from his tame horse to a wild one, holding on while it bucks. “I love seeing the female riders,” Maria says. “They wear gorgeous dresses, show up at 5 a.m., work the horses, clean the trailers. It’s a lot of work and dedication, and their pride is really beautiful.”—Chris O’Connell

Texas charros after the opening ceremony.
“The men and women who participate in the charreada are typically from a long lineage — it’s part of their family. Their parents and grandparents did it. It stays in the family. And it’s really hard work.”—Minta Maria
(Left) The traditional charro sombrero has an extra-wide brim, a high pointed crown, and a chin strap; One of the many horse stalls at the San Antonio charro ranch.
“I normally don’t photograph in the noonday sun. It was at first a challenge and now I really like photographing in that environment.”
A San Antonio charro riding at the end of the event.
Two white charro horses.
“Their openness and our mutually respectful relationship allows 
 me to photograph from many angles and really get up close.”
Three mounted charros in the arena for Manganas a Caballo (forefooting on horseback), one of the final events of the charreada.