8 Nov, 2012 @ 12:00
1 min read

Bull breeding estate open to public

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SWIRLING the cape like a whirling dervish, you could tell local hotelier Andy Chapell was having fun.

Jumping at the chance to attempt a classic bullfighting move at Ronda’s exciting new bull breeding estate Reservatauro, it didn’t matter that he looked more like a Teletubby attempting a new dance.

For it is the participation that makes this new venue such fun.

Whether a fan of bullfighting or not, visitors will enjoy seeing how well the fighting bulls live before being dispatched at four years of age.

Luxuriating in the grounds of this 200 hectare estate, they live off a mix of acorns and meal and have no shortage of space to roam.

Set up by Ronda bullfighter Rafael Tejeda and his wife Nuria, this ancient estate, known as a dehesa, is a fascinating place to visit.

Set in stunning oak woodland on the edge of the Sierra de las Nieves natural park, visitors have the chance to see first hand how the ancient art functions.

As well as breeding bulls, the estate also trains horses, in particular the giant Spanish shirehorses, who can stand the weight of any bull charge.

There is a trainee bullring and visitors are taken on a tour of the estate and given an explanation of how it all functions.

Most interesting of all is how the grandmother cows, known as Mala Fes, some as old as 22, are kept to socialise the young calves in early life.

And then there is the chance to pick up and handle the cape, as well as the sharp sword used to dispatch the bulls in the ring.

“I thought the trip was really worthwhile and think a lot of our punters would go – apart from the anti-bullfight ones of course,” explained Chapell, the boss of Molino del Santo, in Benaojan.

That is more the shame though, as there is no doubt, a visit to Reservatauro is likely to put the whole art in a very different light… and, dare I say it, convert people.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. Ah,…it’s art, and it converts people? Convert to what? I don’t doubt the bulls live a good life, but in the arena they are tortured for half an hour by narrow minded nitwits. Even Federico Garcia Lorca should have known better than lamenting the death of a toreador. Civilised countries ought to abolish this sort deadly art.

  2. Hmmm…It´s a difficult subject. But, I will happily visit the farm but I doubt I will change my mind about bullfighting. I am neither squimish or vegetarian by the way,I happily watch animals eat one another in nature and I am sure I would kill an animal (quickly) if I were hungry. The difference is to me that we as humans have a choice of HOW to do things. The argument about the ganado bravo having a better life than factory farmed cattle makes me want to be more careful abour choosing sorce of meet I eat (Why not promote happy beef cows?) instead of becoming an afficionado of bullfighting and continueing to eat factory farmed meet. BTW the meat that comes from “lídia” or bullfighting is known for its toughness as the animal was full of adrenaline and stress-released hormones for a prolonged time when it died, despite its good life beforehand.

  3. It’s art:


  4. That’s just sick obviously terrifying an animal. Bulls are looked after so well all their lives.. …aren’t they just in a field? what’s the big looking after thing??
    unless they’re fed peeled grapes or something…
    What’s the difference to everyone going to a slaughter house and cheering & clapping? that would be wrong?

    Let’s hope it carries on getting banned region to region until the last stronghold of Andalucia bans it too – can’t see that ever happening though!

  5. Jim – “What’s the difference to everyone going to a slaughter house and cheering & clapping? that would be wrong?”

    What’s the difference between a murder in public and a murder in private? Is the murder in private acceptable because no one sees it and cheers? It’s okay to torture an animal as long as no one is cheering and clapping?

    This is the issue – it’s considered “wrong” because it is shocking to foreign cultural sensibilities. Not because people genuinely consider killing the bull an immoral act. If people truly believed that the killing of a bull was wrong they would abstain from eating meat completely. The meat animal lives in a pen, is treated badly, slaughtered and dies. It changes nothing if it dies alone in solitude or with a bunch of people cheering its death.

    By placing the moral burden on the spectators we are saying it is morally wrong not because of the death or treatment of the bull – but only because people are watching and enjoying it. It’s morally acceptable to torture and kill animals in private for our pleasure and benefit (this is exactly what you implicitly endorse every time you eat meat). But if we make a public sport of it then it suddenly becomes immoral. The hypocrisy people refuse to admit.

    Eve – “(Why not promote happy beef cows?) instead of becoming an afficionado of bullfighting and continueing to eat factory farmed meet.”

    You have a good point – simply don’t eat meat if you have moral qualms about the treatment of the bull. Only the rich can afford to be picky about where their meat comes from. Meanwhile, the poor do not have that luxury. Factory farming is what allows individuals around the world to have a basic standard of nutrition. Promoting happy beef cows means expenses increase. The cost is passed to the consumer. Thus rich people are able to afford a higher quality of food than the poor – if the poor can afford it at all.

    On that note, the meat of deceased sport bulls has always been traditionally donated to the poor. It’s easy for the wealthy expat to sit back and bemoan the conditions of a bull in the ring or factory, but the truly poor who can’t afford to the cost of healthy meat products are perfectly happy to eat the donated meat of a sport bull.

    But who cares about poor people, right? This is about how the bulls feel. Clearly that is more important than human beings.

  6. Hi Reality – (love the handle)

    I think one should be very careful not to end up sounding patronising both towards the foreigners, the locals and “the poor” when talking about awarness and choices.

    “The poor” end up hooked on cheap processed food and lots of it, pushed by large supermarkets at bottom prices. This creates a number of health problems which again, people cannot afford to solve. Obesity is a sign of “lower”, not “higher” status nowadays, isn´nt it? Not speaking of heart disease and cancer.

    Supporting bullfighting does absolutely nothing to channel money into the hands of “the poor” and I don´t see a connection you are trying to make here. A heap of free meet now and then is not a solution that will change someone´s life for the better.

    Let´s have different approach: if we took the money which is devoted to raising the ganado bravo, spent on training and builiding the large estates housing the industry, the inflated salaries of the bullfighters, the money that went into creating the ornate costumes, the money needed to raise and train the horses, convinced the spectators to donate the ticket fare to the poor…hmm, what a nice big heap of organic beef that would buy… I am pulling your leg a bit here, but my point is that logic based on false premises (you need bullfighting to be able to donate meat and help “the poor”) works both ways.

    2. Bullfighting has been banned in Catalunya – was it a wealthy expats conspiracy?

    3. Being conscious of how animals are treated makes one automatically insensitive to human and social issues? How does that work, actually? Should I get rid of my dog and donate the money I save on Friskies to feed children in Africa? Come on, Reality, that´s demagouery.

    4. Many Spanish are turning away from bullfighting. With my hand on my weak animal-welfare-loving heart I can quickly count about 10 Spanish friends who do not support bullfighting ( ranging from men in their 30´s to 50´s and a couple of women) and only one that does, a woman. You may say I choose my friends according to certain qualities – however, it also means that these people do exist – and here in Ronda area which is quite a conservative and traditional town.

    All in all I will listen to “pro” arguments as long as they do not contain labelling people who are “against” as a certain “type” or convenient simplifications and mascarading as logic.

    No offense by the way, this is a discussion, not a fight.

  7. Reality – you always REFUSE to acknowledge that cheering and clapping a bull being tortured is wrong! it’s just that simple.

    Eva B. I wouldn’t bother – he’s always just out for an argument on here rather than saying something positive and constructive! Anything you say he will highlight then give you a tedious essay back. Don’t waste your time… He wastes his!

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