A step in the right direction? From Madrid to Corella, Navarra.

“Happy, but not satisfied” sums up the feelings of the foreman of Partido de Resina after last Sunday’s corrida in Madrid. There’s more work to be done but the outcome was basically good. The critics – as always – gave mixed feedback, but I’ve noted a lot of positivity and good feeling from the public and in the news. Two bulls performed well; three if you include number 21 – Habonero – who also showed moments of quality, but was not sufficiently “guided” by Ruben Pinar. I might be slightly biased concerning Habonero though, as he was always one of my favourites in the countryside: squat and truly pug-nosed, but well-behaved despite the fact that he was always with the dreaded number 19 (a veritable pest of a bull if there ever was one).

Numbers 19 (Sortijero) and 21 (Habonero) in the countryside during the Spring. Sortijero was aggressive in the field but very reserved and unpredictable in the plaza. Habonera appears to have less presence in the photo, but performed well in the plaza, if a little "tame" with the horse and lance and generally a bit distracted.

Numbers 19 (Sortijero) and 21 (Habonero) in the countryside during the Spring. Sortijero was aggressive in the field but very reserved and unpredictable in the plaza. Habonera appears to have less presence in the photo, but performed well in the plaza, even if he was a little “tame” with the horse and lance and generally a bit distracted.

Numbers 31 and 14 – classic pabloromeros cardenos (grey roan – see photos below) – showed consistency right through the three main stages of the bullfight and charged with lightness and their heads down; showing traits that have long been sought in this bull-breeding estate. All three were applauded on their exit from the arena.

Given that it was the first full bullfight I’ve attended in Madrid, it was immensely satisfying to to attend with the bulls I’ve been working with and getting to know over the last year. I’ve returned to Villamanrique very hopeful for the future of these bulls – they still appear to have a very strong connection with the plaza and public in Madrid.

José Maria Lazaro, with number 31 who was the first bull of the afternoon/evening. Note the low head carriage.

José Maria Lazaro, with number 31 who was the first bull of the afternoon/evening. Note the low head carriage.

Number 14, the only five year-old bull fought on Sunday - Pérez Mota carries him long and low.

Number 14, the only five year-old bull fought on Sunday – Pérez Mota carries him long and low.

I’m no taurine critic – I’ve still got lots to learn – but I enjoy reading the words of the many professionals or dedicated amateurs who put finger to keyboard to vent their feelings about this or that bullfight. The words below struck me in particular:

“Para quien se haya perdido esta corrida tan ejemplar baste este detalle: el quinto de la tarde, un cinqueño cárdeno claro que atendía por Cubanito, número 14, siendo el más chico del encierro con sus 42 arrobas y media, era la definición perfecta del trapío. Sus hechuras, su conformación anatómica, su morrillo, su cuerna, sus músculos junto a su altiva mirada otorgaban al animal una seriedad impresionante, la que emanaba de su impecable, inequívoca figura de toro de lidia, gloria de la cabaña brava.”

José Ramón Márquez (full article here)

(Very) roughly translated:

“For those who missed out on this exemplary bullfight, this detail is enough [to capture the spirit of the event]: the fifth bull of the evening, a five year-old light grey-roan who answers to [the name] Cubanito, number 14, the smallest bull of the lot with his 42 and a half “arrobas” [historic Spanish volume measure – he weighed 489kg], was the perfect definition of “trapío” [appearance/presence/class]. His build, his anatomical conformation, his neck and upper shoulder, his horns, his muscles along with his arrogant look bestowed upon the animal an impressive seriousness, which exuded from his impeccable, unequivocal fighting-bull figure, a heroic exemplar of fighting-stock [in general].”

Flowery I know, but it does capture something very basic when it comes to bullfights in Madrid at least: if the bull is stunning and moves, anything else is a bonus. The good news is not only that all six bulls brought movement (more or less) and awesome beauty to the plaza, but that three of them also brought funcionality as fighting or fight-able bulls: the bullfighters had something to work with, even if not all of them took full advantage of this.

This photo has been doing the rounds on twitter. Bull number 9, Plateador, looks at the foreman, Joaquin, in the corrals of Las Ventas. The caption reads "After four years of getting to know each other, we say goodbye with a single look". Photos that convey the relationship between foremen and their bulls always seem to touch a nerve.

This photo has been doing the rounds on twitter. Bull number 9, Plateador, looks at the foreman, Joaquin, in the corrals of Las Ventas. The caption reads “After four years of getting to know each other, we say goodbye with a single look”. Photos that convey the relationship between foremen and their bulls always seem to touch a nerve.

For years, in fact since the time when these bulls were owned by the Pablo-Romero family (the bulls changed hands in the 90s), the breeders of pabloromeros have sought a bull that fights well right through to the third stage of the bullfight (the stage with the smaller red cape and sword), but above all they have sought a bull that brings its head well down in this final stage. The pabloromeros have always struggled with this, partially due to their short necks. Every year stud bulls and breeding cows undergo a rigorous selection process for, among other things, a longer neck (they also have to be outstandingly fierce/brave). Results were never going to be instantaneous, but perhaps we might consider Sunday’s bullfight a small step in the right direction.

Onwards and upwards, the next little step might take place this coming Saturday in Corella, Navarra, where the bullfighters Rafaelillo, Sanchez Vara and Alberto Alvarez will confront six of the best from Partido de Resina. Good luck to the bulls, breeders and bullfighters alike!

Next steps... a bull enters the corrals before boarding the lorry today.

Next steps… a bull enters the corrals before boarding the lorry today.

Forward looking, forward thinking bulls. Hopefully.

Forward looking, forward thinking bulls. Hopefully.

The lorry "docked" next to the corrals in Partido de Resina. The foreman and seven bulls have already left for Navarra.

The lorry “docked” next to the corrals in Partido de Resina. The foreman and seven bulls have already left for Navarra.

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One Response to A step in the right direction? From Madrid to Corella, Navarra.

  1. henryjtaylor says:

    The most rigorous testing of breeding stock will provide absolutely no indication of the way their get will perform in the ring. D. Cesar Moreno before he moved from Pamploma in the 1970s, had a magnificant semental. which he must have obtained after much research and no little cost. Unfortunately, his bulls which had been well regarded got progressively worse and worse until substitutes had to be substituted. The only way to test breeding stock is by testing their get. Without progeny testing there is a danger that a heard can quickly be destroyed and this theory has been known for at least sixty years. Where more than one semantel is used, failure to test their get on a limited number of cows can produce corridas which can be both good and disastrous. The same would apply with something specific like head carriage and the only case where I have noticed where genes can be truly dominant is with horn formation which can result in some amazing cases of conformity. The tienta shows the breeding value of the parents and not those tested.

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