Armed with a flat braided rope, riding gloves, spurs and a protective vest, cowboys at the J Bar W Ranch in Union Bridge, Md., engage in one of rodeo’s most dangerous events: bull riding. Riders attempt to stay on a bucking bull for eight seconds without touching it with their free hands, as the animal jumps, twists and turns.
Julio Mendoza has been riding horses since he was 3 years old, but his roots go back much further than that — he is the fourth generation in his family to train them.
Mendoza’s horses do something a little different than what you see at the Preakness Stakes. On his horse farm in Union Bridge, he teaches them dressage, or what is sometimes called “horse ballet.” In dressage, the rider and horse communicate to perform different moves and steps.
Mendoza also performs la Garrocha, which is a type of dressage that incorporates a 12-foot wooden garrocha pole. I visited he and his wife’s farm last week and took some photos and video.