KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- On this first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, ABC13's Mayra Moreno is taking you inside a lienzo charro, a professional sporting arena that resembles that of the American rodeo and is right in the community of Katy.
Not many people know that a huge sport and national competition known as charrería, is hosted right in that area. Charros (Mexican cowboys) from all over the nation set foot here in our backyard for a chance to compete.
One Katy charro has been working to make sure this ancient tradition continues to be passed on to future generations.
It's called the national sport of Mexico. Charros perform a series of equestrian activities that mirror what we know here in America as the Rodeo.
Jaime Jimenez-Gonzalez is the president of the "Charros of Texas."
"I am the second generation of charros of my family," Jimenez-Gonzalez said. "My dad started doing it since he was born. He worked at the ranches in Mexico, but never really practiced it as a sport until he moved to California in about 1980s. He inherited the sport to me and now I inherit to my son."
Charrería started as a way of life. It was first brought to Mexico by the Spanish in the 16th century. It would be many years later when Mexican cattlemen were finally exposed to ranch life learning the ropes and dedicating themselves to raising and herding cattle. In 1933, it became a sport.
"Charrería, it's part of our tradition," Jimenez-Gonzalez said. "It's part of where we are from."
Jimenez-Gonzalez told ABC13 there is still a lot of ignorance in America when it comes to charrería.
"People that see us dressed as a charro, they might think we are a mariachi. It's very different," he said. "Mariachi is only a band group. We have nothing to do with a band. Our trajes, our sombreros, everything is unique."
The sport has come a long way over the years. The Mexican Charrería Federation organizes regional and national competitions with over 900 clubs throughout the nation including right here in Katy.
"There's new teams that compete with a lot of heart. They come all the way from California, Colorado, Illinois, Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma," he continued. "It's very family-orientated. It's the only sport where the son, father, and a grandparent could be in it."
Generations of families compete in a charreada, an event that encompasses 10 different acts where you demonstrate your horsemanship skills. The most risky event is called "Paso de la Muerte."
"Pass of Dead is where are you are riding your horse bareback, and you have to jump at full speed to another horse a wild horse," Jimenez-Gonzalez said. "It's pretty exciting."
And the women are not left behind. Escaramuza charra is the female equestrian event. It consists of a team riding horses side-saddling and wearing traditional Mexican outfits performing a carefully crafted routine. This too takes a lot of skill. Even Jimenez-Gonzalez' daughter has taken on this family tradition.
For the past two decades, Jimenez-Gonzalez has been working hard alongside his father in Katy to prove that charrería can transcend borders, teaching new generations to love this ancient sport.
"We're looking forward to opening the school for boys and girls from the ages of five or six years of age and older, to teach them how to ride, how to rope, and the most about just love for the sport," Jimenez-Gonzalez said in regards to future plans. "That's our main goal teach them to care about our traditions."