Charros, the Mexican gentlemen horsemen from whom mariachis take their suits, are arguably the original cowboy. The word chaps, for example, is said to come from the Spanish word chaparreras, mesteños from the Spanish for mustangs, and lasso is basically lazo with stodgier spelling.

Though practiced by a small part of the general population, charrerĂ­a is the national sport of Mexico. As Mexican communities grow in the U.S., so do charreadas. 13 U.S. states are currently part of the Mexican National CharrerĂ­a Federation, the organization based in Mexico City that rules the sport. More U.S. teams are qualifying to the national championships in Mexico, which everyone at a charreada will tell you is the beautiful pinnacle of the sport.

One of those teams is Guadalupana de Pegueros. The team, led by Martín Alamillo, has now qualified for the last three national championships. It’s taken them a lot of patience, hard work, and money—and it has not come without cultural clashes.

Cinematographer/Producer/Editor: Jorge Corona
Second Camera in Sylmar: Tim Maloney