Fighting cattle descend from a mixture of the Iberian cattle races and became a separate breed in the 17th century.
Planned selection by nobility and large estate owners in the 18th century led to the herds and strains (‘castas’) which form the basis of today’s Fighting cattle. The following 14 are the most important:
• Castellana - oldest strain; medium to large; mostly black; now extinct.
• de la Tierra - old strain; large; usually red; now extinct.
• Jijona (named after the Sánchez-Jijón family) - 17th century strain; shining red; blood still found in herds today.
• Carriquirris - minor strain; small in size; supposedly an ancestor of the Betizu (Betizuak).
• de los Gallardo - strain founded in 1745; ‘elegantly built’; black, black pied or brown; remnants remain in the Pablo Romero strain.
• Navarra - 18th century strain; small with a large head; varied coloration; blood remains through crossbreeding.
• Cabrera (named after Luis Antonio Cabrera Ponce de León y Luna) - first herd established in 1775; mostly black; blood maintained in the Pablo Romero and Miura strains.
• Espinosa y Zapata - strain begun in Salamanca in the late 1800s; no pure animals have survived.
• Vistahermosa - first herd was established between 1850–1900, later became a strain; black, dark-grey or dark-brown with a light-colored eel-stripe along the spine; blood found in almost all herds of fighting cattle today.
• Vazqueña [later Vazques] (named after Gregorio Vázquez de Utrera) - herd founded in 1757, became a strain in the late 1800s; colorful; blood found in many herds of fighting cattle today.
• Vega-Villar - strain established in 1910; short with light bones; various colors and patterns, some are called ‘patasblancas’ (‘white-legged’).
• Veragua - strain; supposedly peaked in performance in the early 1900s; known to be persistent in attacking the horse of the picador; Hemingway was a big fan of these bulls.
• Miura - strain; supposedly peaked in performance the mid-1900s.
• Pablo Romero (named after Felipe de Pablo Romero) - strain founded in 1885; largest bulls of the 20th century.
This page was last updated on: 2020-04-24
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