Modern Charra: Ivette Saucedo of “Los Cowboys” Rides Tall

Ivette Saucedo of HULU's Los Cowboys is a Modern Charra
When Ivette Saucedo rides her horse into the arena everything goes quiet. She’s focused, eyes fixed, breathing deep, mentally preparing for the tough ride ahead.

“I can’t hear the applause or the music. I can literally hear my heart beat. That moment, feeling that rush, is my favorite part. It is an amazing feeling,” says Ivette. She seeks out her family in the large crowd and locks eyes. Once she’s connected with them, it all begins.

Some people think they know what it is to be a cowboy. The Marlboro Man or John Wayne may come to mind. But the Hulu original reality show, Los Cowboys, is shedding some much-needed light on that thinking. Set in Los Angeles, Los Cowboys is a reality show that focuses on a team of modern-day charros – or, Mexican rodeo cowboys – working hard to keep their tradition alive.

Ivette, the musa of the group, is a cowboy in her own right. She’s an elegant showperson, a life-long charra, and she can ride as hard, if not harder, than the boys.

“When I imagine a cowboy, I see my dad,” says Ivette, who grew up surrounded by the beauty of charrería that she learned from her father. She remembers the cowboy hats, the farm work and the sound of her dad’s boots as he walked – that’s cowboy life.

Los Cowboys showcases the artistry of charrería, but also the intense physicality of the sport. These rodeo riders specialize in difficult trick riding, roping, jumps and other feats of bravery and skill. Ivette began training when she was little, and joined Escaramuza de Reinas, an all-women’s group whose members combine intricate riding, pageantry and strict control. She was the only American to ride with the Mexico-based group for three years. Here’s a peek of what escaramuza looks like.

“It takes a lot of dedication,” she says. To keep herself strong and fit enough to do all the things the sport demands, she lifts weights and practices yoga. But succeeding in the sport is as much about bravery as it is about fitness.

“For me, it’s not something scary, it’s a rush,” she says. She’s a competitive player, and often pushes herself to outperform her peers, whether they are men or women.

That said, there are still men who view the women as lesser athletes, as more performers rather than skilled riders. “A lot of charros feel like that toward girls,” she says. “They see women as a weak link. I do get that.”

For Ivette and the rest of the Los Cowboys cast, they also have another kind of perception to overcome. As Americans coming to compete in a Mexican sport in Mexico against Mexican teams, their ability and authenticity is questioned.

But, nothing is stopping this Mexican-American woman. Not perception, not stereotypes, and especially not fear.

That never-say-die attitude and nerve comes from her mom, she says. “My mom is a strong character. Her family came from Mexico. She was one of those kids she had to do the translating from Spanish to English for her parents. She was very empowering. [She told me] you be a leader, you don’t be a follower.”

The full season is now available on Hulu – making it perfect for binge watching. But it’s not just a guilty pleasure. Ivette hopes that viewers take something from the show.

“My biggest hope is that [people see that] this is a beautiful sport and tradition,” says Ivette. “Just like Greece has their mythology, charrería part of our history.

During the course of the show, someone tagged her in a photo on Instagram and let her know the show made them feel proud to be Mexican, and inspired them to want to learn Spanish. “I have never been so proud to be Mexican. People are coming to us and realizing how beautiful the culture is, and that we are passing it on to our children.”

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