Bullfighting is synonymous with Spain. While it is not a nation-wide activity, and it has declined in popularity in some regions and has been banned in others, it remains a significant cultural event in Andalusia. After much careful consideration, we bought tickets for the bullfight. As it turned out, one of Spain’s leading matadors was in town for the event, along with lesser billed matadors.
A bullfight follows a particular sequence of events: the entrance of the bull, the picador, the banderilleros, and finally the matador (bullfighter). Many of the picadors’ horses were injured in the early days, so these heavy horses now wear protection. There is a distinct ritual to bullfighting, from preparing the arena, opening the event, releasing the animal, wearing it down by getting it to charge the cape again and again, and finally killing it.
Spectators applaud a swift kill and deride a messy kill. There was one messy kill and it was difficult to watch the animal initially collapse to the ground, then try to stagger back up on its legs, foam and blood pouring from its mouth. The matador missed the vital strike point several times. He was booed for his shoddy efforts.
The program had six bulls, each animal presented being progressively heavier, their weights ranging from 450kg to 600kg. The first bull pretty much ignored all of the efforts to get it to move so, after a time, a small herd of Judas steers was released into the arena and the bull followed them back out into the holding pen. Its next stop would be the slaughterhouse.
The spectacle is impressive – particularly when a bull charges the cape closer and closer to the matador. Bulls only ever face ‘the cape’ once. Security is maintained on the stud farms to ensure aspirant matadors do not practice the cape with a bull, and hence prepare the bull for the arena. The results for this event were: matadors 5, bulls 0.
Would I attend another bullfight? I really don’t know.