In her book, Cavaliers of Portugal, Huldine Beamish writes: "the mentioning of the word bullfighting would probably elicit some negative reactions from an English speaking readership, however when preceded by the word Portuguese, it conjures images of one of the most exquisite forms of equestrian display, which would interest anyone involved with horses, but specially those of us interested in the Iberian horse."
The mounted bullfight begins with a regal display of cavaliers dressed in XVII century outfits and mounted on equally magnificently harnessed stallions. After a complex exhibitions of haute icole, which demonstrates the superb training of the horse, a single cavalier remains in the ring to face the bull alone.
In Portugal, the objective of the bullfight is not to kill the bull but rather to demonstrate the training and schooling of the horse. The bullfight consist of placing a series of long and short darts on the muscular part of the bull, just behind the neck. The darts irritate the bull and make it more aggressive. The performance is relatively short, ten minutes or so, in which an average of six darts are placed, but it must be performed under strict "codes of honor." The bull should be given the advantage when charging, that is, it must initiate the charge before the cavalier makes his move. In addition, the approach and encounter of bull and cavalier must be face to face to the last possible moment, in which the horse, to escape the impact of the bull must literally wrap itself around the bull in some fascinating displays of agility.
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