She’s A Mexican-American Rodeo Queen And Here’s How She Rose To The Top Of One Of Mexico’s Favorite Sports

In Mexico, the sport of rodeo – and especially synchronized horse riding – is big business. In the north of the country, horse riding is engrained in many communities and is a reflection of more than five centuries of history.

Today, women on both sides of the border are helping keep the tradition alive, including a Mexican-American woman known as the Queen of Mexican Rodeo.

Paola Pimienta is known as the Queen of Mexico’s rodeo scene and she’s helping preserve centuries-old traditions.

Like so many in our community who were born in the United States, Paola Pimienta was often shy about her Mexican heritage, she told CBS News in an interview. But it was her interest in the tradition of charrería – Mexico’s national sport – that she shed her shyness and fully embraced her Mexican heritage and the traditions that came along with it.

She entered the Mexican horse-riding scene, becoming a escaramuza (a female competitor) in the world of charreadas – or Mexican rodeos. Escaramuzas ride sidesaddle, kick up dust, and channel the bravery and horsemanship of Mexican revolutionary heroes.

Pimienta credits her cousin with pushing her to join the sport, telling CBS News that her cousin told her she’d never become a escaramuza because she was born in the U.S. She wanted to prove her cousin wrong. And she’s done just that.

Pimienta started her training at just 11-years-old, and now at 21-years-old, she was just crowned the U.S. National Escaramuza Ambassador.

Pimienta has a message for other young women out there doubting their Latinx roots.

When asked what she would tell young girls growing up in the U.S., who are unsure about embracing their Latinx heritage, Pimienta told CBS News, “Don’t be ashamed of who you are. Be proud of where we come from because we are such a beautiful community.”

Women are working hard at keeping this Mexican tradition alive on both sides of the border.

Just like other horse riding sports, charreada is extremely popular with Mexico’s elite, but the sport also thrives in communities across the border in Mexican communities from Texas to California. The sport commemorates five centuries of Mexican tradition, dating back to techniques taught in colonial Spanish raiding schools and adaptations made by conquistadores.

Mexican vaqueros adapted all of these traditions into something uniquely Mexican. In fact, because it holds such high import for Mexican culture, playing a role in passing down values to new generations, UNESCO declared it Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.

In California’s Coachella Valley, the sport is taking hold in many farmworker communities. Miranda Lopez, a 7-year-old escaramuza told NBC Palm Springs, that she “likes horses and how escarmuza looks.” So much so, that she practices every single week even though the family doesn’t own their own horse.

Toni Gallegos is the owner of Escaramuza Charra la Potosina and has helped support the local team through the uncertainty of the pandemic. But aside from being a distraction, she told NBC Palm Springs one of the biggest takeaways from the practice is helping riders connect to their Mexican roots and heritage.

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