Thursday, November 26

Saltillo, adventures of a historic iron and a rancher in love | Blog The bull, by the horns


“I never believed that we would reach the current situation. This pandemic has thrown me off my feet. So far, the joke has cost me 250,000 euros. And I say more: if the next season does not start in Castellón and Valencia, we are dead. I see a lot of future in popular celebrations; politicians take care of them because they are a hotbed of votes, we all have fun and eat with the peñas; but I think the bullfighting market will be greatly reduced, and there will only be several herds for the figures and a few others for the real fans. I see the future very black… ”.

José Joaquín Moreno Silva (Madrid, 1948), —a graduate in Political Science and a well-known rejoneador in his early years — is the owner of the iron of Saltillo, the seed of many Spanish and American herds, a reference to the embedded bull, from which current figures flee .

The rancher has the bearing of a country man, dark skin, striated hands, a deep voice, a clear mind, and a head full of experience and wisdom. Not in vain he assures that he is in love with his farms (“the landscape in the movie ‘Out of Africa’ – he says – is a garden without flowers next to the Molino Chirrí area, an authentic natural park in the province of Seville”) , of agriculture, of their goats, of their tame cows, their pigs, and, above all, of their fighting bulls.

He lives in Madrid, but runs away from the city every day; and every week he takes the Ave and travels to Palma del Río and Constantina, where his cattle graze.

“With my bulls it happens to me like with that girlfriend who lives far away and counts the hours to return to her side; with that illusion I live every day… ”.

More than 200 animals from Saltillo have ended up in the slaughterhouse, and the losses reach 250,000 euros

Despite this, Moreno Silva suffers in his mind and in his pocket, like all ranchers, the dire consequences of the pandemic.

“More than 200 animals have gone to the slaughterhouse,” he laments; “Four bullfights, three novilladas, a dozen bulls for the streets and many erales have passed through the groping ring, they have fought each other and have been sacrificed for consumption.”

“And the value of a bull in the slaughterhouse is between 250 and 300 euros (at 0.65 euros per kilo), so it is easy to guess the economic ruin,” he notes.

He explains that he has reserved three bullfights to be fought next year as Cinqueños: “I have thrown them out into the field to feed on grass and a couple of kilos of feed a day, and not six, which is the usual diet of the animal that prepares to go to the square.

However, the rancher recognizes that he is a lucky man despite the fact that his iron is not required by bullfighting figures.

José Joaquín Moreno Silva, rancher from Saltillo.
José Joaquín Moreno Silva, rancher from Saltillo.

“I know that I dealt with an atypical bull and that the fans who follow this encaste fit in a van; It is a difficult fight because my bulls do not know what a Madrid bullring is like, but four or five good ones have come out in Las Ventas, and the French market has been very important to me. France opened its doors to me, and two years ago I was awarded the prize for the best livestock in the southeast of France. There this type of bull is respected. French fans enjoy bullfights that in Seville would put their hands to their heads; it is another concept about the bull ”.

“The Saltillo bull is unique due to the variety of nuances it contains,” explains the farmer. “It is an encased animal that humiliates and defines a lot the bullfighter in front of him because he demands security, firmness and positioning. Guerrita, Belmonte or Luis Miguel Dominguín were not stupid, and when they wanted to succeed they demanded bulls from Saltillo. It is also true that when a frame does not deal with it, it fades over time; for this reason, this bull owes so much to Victorino Martín, the best breeder of all time, who has kept the Saltillo flame burning ”.

José Joaquín Moreno Silva has achieved important triumphs in Madrid, and the last protagonist was the bull Asturdero, who was turned around on June 4, 2018; but there have also been bad ones …

“Very bad, like Cazarrata (handled by Sánchez Vara on May 31, 2016 in Las Ventas); but, curiously, he has been one of the bulls that has contributed the most to maintaining the fans. He gave more than he took away. He was a bad bull, yes, but the best definition is that he was a badly enclosed brave. He did not open his mouth, he did not go beyond the third line, he did not allow a couple of flags to be nailed to him. He defined what he wanted and what he didn’t want ”.

– Have you earned money from livestock?

“To maintain a livestock, money is more important than the hobby”

– “I have simply changed it, without profit or loss; but now it’s hard for me I have already told you: 250,000 euros this year alone. And I can keep it because I don’t live from it. Otherwise, it would be impossible. A cattle ranch only remains with hobby and pocket. What’s more: I think money is more important than the fans. “

Saltillo has 150 cows, which means the maintenance of almost 600 animals including yearlings, bulls, steers, utreros, stallions, oxen, horses … “I have some very good farms and for seven or eight months they eat what the field raises ; if the cattle ranch were in Cuenca, it would not be able to maintain it ”.

Moreno Silva belongs to a landowning family originally from a town in Soria and settled in the province of Córdoba since the end of the 19th century due to transhumance; his grandfather, Félix Moreno Ardanuy, “the most intelligent man I have ever known,” says his grandson, expanded the agricultural and livestock heritage that his grandmother, Enriqueta de la Cova, contributed.

Félix Moreno was fond of bullfighting, a close friend of Guerrita, and, at his suggestion, he bought the Marqués de Saltillo cattle ranch in 1918.

“My grandfather wanted to progress socially, and he understood that being a brave bull farmer was the right path,” says the farmer. “But he made the only mistake of his life: dividing up the cattle ranch.”

Thus, it was divided into four parts: Saltillo, which was inherited by the son Félix Moreno la Cova; Enriqueta de la Cova, which was the familiar iron, Nine and Serafina Moreno, two of his daughters, who were dealing with the iron of the six-pointed star, which Jandilla would later buy, and Count of Antillon for the son Javier Moreno.

Soon the last two irons disappeared; that of grandmother Enriqueta was inherited by José Joaquín de Alonso Moreno, his father, and in 2013 he bought that of Saltillo from his cousins.

“The greatest achievement of my life as a rancher is the unification of Saltillo; that it is in the hands of a single person instead of four ”, affirms Moreno Silva.

His father, Alonso Moreno, settled in Madrid after his marriage to Ángela de Silva Melgarejo. He bought Alicio Cobaleda’s livestock in 1959 and achieved success with the well-known Alonso. A dozen bullfighters came out on the shoulders of Las Ventas, among them Espartaco, on May 15, 1985.

After the owner’s death in 1992, José Joaquín bought the iron from his brother Javier, who had inherited it, and made it disappear when the prestige of the bulls went down in history.

Consequently, all the family’s livestock adventures have been reduced to one, Saltillo, in the hands of the current owner, the favorite grandson, in his words, of the grandfather Félix Moreno Ardanuy.

– And the future, José Joaquín?

– “My children are good fans and I hope they do not divide the livestock. But I tell them: ‘if you want to be cattle ranchers, the first thing you have to have is money to be one.

– And the future of the party?

– “Times have changed, but we bullfighters have not. And any attempt at change has been mutilated. For example, the hype started in Madrid and disappeared because it was not interesting. I think the current situation is the punishment we deserve ”.

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