Photos and Story by Lyn Odom Cherenzia

The El Paso Las Patrancas (fillies) travel all over the United States performing their ballet on horseback. A team of eight women maneuvers through 15 different patterns, which are synchronized at a full gallop. Criss crossing at breakneck speed, the women demonstrate several patterns including the wagon wheel, a square grid, figure eights, crosses, in and out every other horse and other patterns that look spectacular as the brilliantly colored dress skirts the women wear fly out behind them. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention…they do it riding sidesaddle.

Blanca E. Gomez de Cano is the director of the drill team as well as one of the members. She and the other seven women, ages 14 to 30, are the reigning riding champions of Texas, both regional and in the United States for this type of competition. Last year in Zacatecas, Mexico, they represented the United States at the World Champion Competition. Las Patrancas won the 2001-2002 Championship for the State of Texas, and the 2002 United States of America Championship…all while riding sidesaddle.

The eight-member drill team is: Blanca E. Gomez de Canto, Lydia Rodriquez (captain of the team), Alajendra Cano, Nancy Morales, Elizabeth Yanez, Magdalena Guerra, Alma Villalobos and her daughter Alma Adriana Villalobos.
At this year’s Fort Worth Rodeo Jerry Diaz directed the Charro Rodeo. Included in the performance were Jerry and his wife, Staci, and his father, Don Pepe demonstrated Mexican style riding, Charros riding bucking broncs and bulls, Mexican style wild horse catching and riding, a beautiful little lady who sang several Spanish ballads, roping demonstrations, Las Patrancas and a beautiful Mexican Hat Dance with dancers dressed in traditional Mexican clothes. Considering they were dancing in a rodeo arena full of deep dirt, you would have never known it. Their moves were graceful and full of lively clapping, stomping and hooting.

They also had bull fighting. The small but aggressive black Mexican bulls challenged the Matadors considerable skills. I found myself shouting “OLE’!” along with everyone else in the coliseum. I also took several wonderful photos I’ll always treasure. The intimacy of the family oriented Charro Rodeo and the ambiance of pride and happiness made attending the Charro Rodeo well worthwhile.

The traditional riding and music shown during the Mexican Rodeo was a wonderful representation of the heart-felt emotion and love the Mexican people have for their ancestors. At the beginning of the rodeo there was presentation of both the Mexican and American flags and both national anthems were played while all rodeo and audience members stood. A prayer was dedicated to the performers, their safety, and our military troops. The action in the arena than began and didn’t slow down for two solid hours.

Las Patrancas travels throughout the year demonstrating their drill team number all over the U.S. Last year they traveled to Denver, California, Mexico and throughout Texas. As the Fort Worth Rodeo was winding up they were heading back to El Paso to prepare for the Southwest Livestock Show and Rodeo State Championship Competition in Laredo that will be held Memorial weekend.

Las Patrancas will compete in the National Charro Competition in El Paso in September during the Labor Day weekend. They have extended a personal invitation to all Horse Gazette readers to come to El Paso and watch them perform. I searched the Internet for ticket and location information and did find their website but it’s in Spanish and I couldn’t decipher it. Blanca de Cano does have an email address you can write to: and her phone number is 505-589-4094.

If you have never seen the colorfully traditional excitement of the Charro Rodeo, I urge you to go. The Mexican men and women of the Charro circuit work hard to put on a beautiful and exciting show, and they honor America’s animal welfare regulations.

(Back to Archived Features Page)
(Back to Home Page)