The Inside Story of Bullfighting
An Animal Rights Article from


Jaime Rubio, Animal Blawg
January 2016

bullfighter horse and bull

Defenders’ Arguments:

Disclaimer: First of all, as they will be treated certain thorny issues, I want to make clear that the views, arguments and reasons that are going to be exposed on this post are not the opinions of this blog or the ones of the author.

The reason that has made me move to deliver this issues is because they make an interesting (and original) approach of how the animal welfare can be understood, that I had never thought about. However, I am not trying to protect bullfighting but I want to introduce you these ideas, that might make us think about whether what we had for terrible, is as bad as we thought. Needless to say that I will try to deliver them in the most objective manner possible.

The arguments that I will be writing about are from a source that might be the speaker of the world of bullfighting in general: Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza, a very famous former Spanish Rejoneador (a kind of bullfighter that jumps into the arena on horseback).

All the following arguments and statements are taken from this video: Argumentos a favor de los toros del rejoneador Pablo Hermoso de Mendoza.

Bullfighters understand people who are not in favor of bullfighting, they understand people who think that it is a hard and cruel spectacle, because they also love animals, have lived a lifetime with them and have been dedicated to them. They love bulls and horses as any other lover of these animals.

They demand respect and especially knowledge of the bull. Knowledge of how the bull lives, how the bull feels, how the bull fight and how they like to fight. It is an animal that in its natural state in the countryside, fight with their brothers, fight with his mates and sometimes kill each other in fights.

The lion kills to eat, the bull kills for another question: as a matter of honor, as a matter of bravery. Then reaches its final outcome where it dies. But there comes a fight of power to power, where the bull is constantly thinking that is winning, because it is fighting a very fragile enemy, who always fleeing, who always leaves the field that the bull wants to dominate the bull. The bull pursues him and sees how the enemy is afraid of it. The bull never is subjected, is never mastered. He thinks that this issue is psychologically very beautiful and important.

Because any other animal that is carried to the slaughterhouse is afraid, is terrified because it sees that it will be killed, they go subdued and humiliated to that situation. Often they enter the slaughterhouse, and they see the blood of his brother, his partner, the bull with which it has lived, and see how has been killed. For Pablo, this is even crueler.

Why are the people complaining against bullfighting? Pablo asks annoyed. (He complains of people that are against bullfighting but not against the farming industry.)

He believes that they prefer the hypocrisy “of not seeing the cruel and defenseless slaughter of the animal ” than bullfight, where it is made, as he says, “a tribute to life and death; where the bravery of the bull shines and it dies fighting. ”

He, knowing the fighting bull, believes that for the animal is more beautiful that life and death than the life and death of any tame bull that goes to the slaughter.

He goes on to say that his position is very difficult to explain, for example for a debate, because he knows and recognizes that he does not have any argument to say that the bulls do not suffer, he knows that he is nailing things into the bull, and that makes the bull suffer.

But he, who lives with animals and has horses, says: “My horses are looked after as if they were gods, but they live worse than the fighting bulls.”

He uses them as an example. “[My horses] are now in the truck for the next twelve hours to bullfight, with caregivers, but they are going to be twelve hours stuck in the truck. And for the rest of the year, they eat when the breeder wants to feed them, and train when he wants to train them and live in the stables, which might have a lot of glamor but are a prison as compared with where the bulls live. They have a very good bed, good food, but live imprisoned. ”

Instead, he says: “The fighting bull lives four years on freedom, no one is involved in their day to day, it is not told when to get up or when to sleep, no one tells them what to do, nobody bothers them. To take them to the bullring, for example it is cheated and distracted by oxen, while it is passing to smaller yards, and in the end it is guided into the bullring which has been tucked for him during the whole process, where no one has forced it to go, in contrast to horses which have been forced into the truck in the first place. Later “comes to the bullring and fight an enemy that it considers minor”, [as in the field the bull is used to fight with other bulls of 500kg, which has a similar force to them]. He goes on saying that when a bull overcomes another bull, “the bull flees bitter, humiliated, rammed against all”. But he says, that in the bullring, [the bull] “never tries to flee, never tries to escape, never looks defeated. Fights against an enemy who poked and hurt him, but who flees after hurting, ie, an enemy who is a coward. And suddenly they kill him, but it does not see it coming. ”

Faced with this possibility, is the one of the farming bull, which is feed to priming, is given antibiotics and other chemicals and six or seven months is ready for the slaughter and killed: It has not seen the sunlight, has not run in his life in the countryside.

Is that life better than the one of the fighting bulls? He criticizes the hypocrisy of those who criticize bullfighting but not this.

For the anti bullfighting contingent, it seems that the world of bullfighting boasts of killing the bull. He does not think that, there is respect and an impressive liturgy, and that all bullfighters end up breeding bulls, ultimately loving them. Bulls are their life.

They see themselves as “gladiators” because when they get in the bullring they endanger their life, from power to power, as equals. Bullfighters have to reveal themselves and only harm the bull when the bull can hurt them, to be a “you or me”. That is for him the art of bullfighting.

In addition, he says that the bull has the possibility of living, meaning that it is not sentenced before entering the ring, as there are bulls that are pardoned for their bravery during the bullfighting. Furthermore, with the added attraction that the pardoned bull will live the rest of his life in the open field, like a stallion. A chance that farming bulls does not have.

That is why he believes that today there is no show as genuine as bullfighting. With violence and blood. So he understands that it is not for everybody. For many people who have not experienced bullfighting since childhood, is an atrocity, as they are not prepared for this show. The same would happen to him now if he saw someone kicking a dog, he would be scandalized and would ask for explanations. But as he has experienced bullfighting, he understands it as something natural, as happens to his sons who have seen bullfights since childhood.

He knows it is difficult for our society to experience bullfighting as he did in his day. Finally, he believes that, unfortunately, in the future the bullfights will be lost because almost no one will be interested in them.

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