Luis Quintero, soul and life of the Sancti Spiritus rodeo – Escambray

I learned to ride bulls in the countryside, in the pastures, with the cattle that existed in the area, says Luis Quintero. (Photos: Xiomara Alsina/Escambray).

His rough hands give him away at every step; It is not only about the several cows that he milks every morning on the Las Naranjitas farm, linked to the CCS 10 de Octubre, in Sancti Spíritus, but about the blows received on the back of a bull, which he climbed when he was just a teenager and He dominated it again and again as part of that magic that took over him at any rodeo event, even if it was in the middle of the bush.

Luis Quintero Rodríguez, the dean of the Sancti Spiritus rodeo, the complete cowboy, the national record holder in coleo, the architect of a cattle family, the man with a slow voice and great courage, the friend, husband, father and grandfather, talks about his experiences in what for him has been, more than a passion, his life itself.

“I started in the rodeo at the age of 16, as a bull rider, it was a stage in which there were more quality laceros and tumbadores, that’s why I leaned towards bulls until I was part of the selection that was in the province of Las Villas , made up of athletes from the center of the country.

“I was always from a ranching family, my dad was in charge of the El Cafetal farm and since I was little I rode a horse behind him. I learned to ride bulls in the countryside, in the pastures, with the cattle that existed in the area, I practiced with Gustavo Arias and Ruperto Valdés. After being on the team I specialized in other numbers, such as calf roper, knockdown and cow milker. I was the founder of coleo in the year 80, that modality was not practiced in Cuba, but a Colombian came to the International Boyeros Fair and I was on the national team; He explained to us the technique for colearing and we began to practice it, shortly after a selection of three cowboys was made to go to an event in Colombia and I fell into that group.

“It was my second international outing, I had previously gone to Mexico for a bull riding event, since then I attended the first, second and third bull riding world championships that were held in Colombia and, despite the little experience, we were always among the 30 first athletes, among the more than 200 who participated. As a coleador I also went to Venezuela, to a world event.

Luis Quintero Rodríguez, the dean of the Sancti Spiritus rodeo, talks about his experiences in what for him has been, more than a passion, his life itself.

He holds the national record in bullfighting of steers…

I was lucky enough to be the first Cuban to do a reguilete on the track, I remember that I had just returned from Venezuela and a triangular rodeo competition was taking place in Sancti Spíritus, so I achieved it, I was very surprised, that is the maximum that is achieved in that modality that consists of pulling the animal by the tail and then, upon letting it fall, it makes three consecutive turns around the axis of its spinal column.

Then other cowboys have equaled it, like Vladimir my son, but in Cuba no one else has been able to break the record because for that the bull must go four turns in a row and it is something very difficult, only one Colombian has managed to do it in the entire history of coleus. .

Are you still linked to the rodeo?

After being an athlete, I was the director of the Sancti Spíritus rodeo team for many years and always with good results. This is the team that has been National Champion the most times among all those on the island; At that stage Gustavo Arias was the President of the Cuban Society of Rodeo Cowboys, but when he died then I took over that responsibility; today the director is Orlando Rodríguez.

About three years ago the team lost the title of champion, but we just returned to the throne after beating all the teams we faced in the triangular competitions, semi-finals and finals of the rodeo.

Today the Sancti Spiritus cowboys are in good sporting shape, with an injection of young and talented figures who combine with those with more experience, such as the Calero, the Corrales and others who already have a name.

But, more than that, there is unity and discipline, two fundamental things to be able to move forward, because, although the cowboys work for their own personal brand, they need to march together to achieve results as a team. This was demonstrated in this grand final that took place in Manicaragua, where Pinar del Río and Villa Clara fought hard, they had good reinforcements, but the people from Sancti Spiritus went ahead and there was no one to catch up with them, until they ended up averaging more than 1,870 points .

All the cowboys were key in this competition, although the one who stood out the most was Vladimir, who was the champion in coleus and the highest accumulator of points, because he is a complete cowboy.

Vladimir is its continuity. As a father, athlete, former team manager and current president of the Sancti Spíritus Rodeo Cowboy Society, how does it feel?

Above all, very confident, Vladimir is a confident man on the track, he does all the numbers quite well, it is a guarantee to have him on the team. Although there are already other new ones that are taking off and doing well; There is the case of Lazarito Pérez, who became champion in calf bonding there in Rancho Boyeros; Marcos, the son of Marlon Corrales, and others. This year Pedrito Obregón’s jimaguas are going to qualify, as well as one of the Calero, all of them are a continuation of great cowboys who made history in Santi Spíritus.

Cowboys practice all year and go through several stages until reaching the final result, just like a baseball player.

How much of Luis Quintero is there in each of the Sancti Spiritus members of the ranking?

This year there were about 12, including the cowgirls, all of them since they started did it with me, among them are Omarito, Marlon, Andrés Rodríguez and many more, and I always helped them, sharing with them the teachings, the good practices.

But it is a shame that rodeo, which means culture and tradition, much more so on this earth, is not considered a true sport and does not have the same level of priority that the rest of the athletes in other sports have, especially because the cowboy is very self-sacrificing, he dedicates himself completely to his preparation, he dedicates himself to a competition without receiving anything in return, just giving a nice show to the people.

The cowboys practice the entire year and go through several stages until reaching the final result, just like a baseball player, first are the qualifying rounds at the livestock company level, then the team that will represent the province is formed, then come the triangular competitions, semi-finals and finals.

But, more than that, it is a very expensive event…

Imagine that each cowboy creates his own clothing, from the horses that can cost up to 400,000 pesos, the lassoes that cost around 5,000, the saddles that cost more than 35,000, some boots, 6,000 pesos, Just like a hat, not counting the clothing, the horse’s shoe, the animal’s tack, in short, it is an expensive spectacle and the rodeo athletes do it completely free, they only receive the applause of the public.

Your cowboys, the rodeo, that adrenaline you feel at every event, do you enjoy it to the fullest?

Of course, but they are tense moments, anyone fails in a lasso, falls from a bull or knocks over a barrel that adds 80 points to the team, that is only felt and suffered by the one who is in the middle of the track waiting for each result.

What is missing from the Sancti Spíritus team to achieve the desired satisfaction?

Unlike other teams in Cuba, ours has ideal conditions for training, here is the best fair in the country, with its well-preserved stables, the track with the required dimensions, the complete infrastructure to practice, compete and be during an event with guarantees for cowboys and horses; However, there is a lack of support from the directors of this activity in the province, an example of this is in the work we go through when we go out to compete, when it is not because there is no car to transport the livestock, it is because The bus doesn’t arrive to take the cowboys.

Right now we recover the title of National Rodeo Champion and we have not even received congratulations from the competent authorities of the province, so it hurts, because the cowboy exposes even his own life to get on a bull or do a takedown, to give lucidity to a spectacle that the people hail and enjoy and, in the end, that individual or collective effort is not sufficiently recognized.

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