The Most Useful Book on the Toros so Far?

Jock Richardson

A friend recently asked me for sources of information which would enable him to look at the bull in the plaza, identify what ranch it came from, what bloodline it belonged to and what the history of its bloodline was. I had to explain that, as an aficionado who is only confident about identifying a Miura, a Santa Coloma of the grey branch, a Prieto de la Cal, and a Vega Villar with white feet; making a sometimes successful stab at some Osbornes, the Partido de Resinas, bulls of Quinta da Foz (which have only appeared in one plaza in recent years), vestiges of Vázquez coat colour; and thinks he is making a little progress towards recognising a Murube or a Núñez, I was not myself very far along the journey he was about to embark upon. I did feel confident that I know where he should start and promised to write him a letter which might help.

The books I recommended included some from the following book-list.

Potentially Useful Books About Toros Bravos

Publications of the bull breeders associations

Useful for the genealogy of the bulls of each ganadería and for certain official documents and essays, such as for example, El Decreto Real 60/2001, El Reglamento Taurino and Las Castas Fundacionales.

Annual Handbook of the Unión de Criadores de Toros de Lidia, Published by the UCTL, Paseo Eduardo Dato, 7, bajo derecha, 28010, Madrid.

Relación Oficial de la Asociación de Ganaderías de Lidia (AGL), Marqués de Cubas, 23 – Primero izquierdo, 28014, Madrid.

[The other breeding associations , The Agrupación Española de Ganaderos de Reses Bravas (AEGRB) and Ganaderos de Lidia Unidos (GLU) also publish annual handbooks, but their toros are not often seen in formal corridas.]

Publications dealing with the history of the ganaderías

Vera Alberto, "Areva", Origenes y Historial de las Ganaderías Bravas, Edition 5, (1961) Artes Graficas EMA, Madrid.

Uriate Luis, El Toro de Lidia Español, ensayo de revision histórico de las ganaderías bravas, (1969), Unión de Bibliofilos Taurinos, Madrid. A publication of 200 copies, named with the owner’s name. Very rare and very expensive.

Mira Filiberto, El Toro Bravo, Hierros y Encastes, España, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, (1981) Guadalquivir, SL. Ediciones, Sevilla, ISBN 84-300-1677-5

Mira Filiberto, Hierros y Encastes del Toro de Lidia, España, Portugal, Francia, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, (1998), Guadalquivir, SL. Ediciones, Sevilla, ISBN 84-8093-039-X.

Rodríguez Montesinos, Adolfo, Los Toros del Recuerdo, (2000) Consejo General de Colegios Veterinarios de España, ISBN 84-923276-1-8.

De la Cámara, Domingo Delgado, Avatares Históricos del Toro de Lidia, (2003) Alianza Editorial, Madrid, ISBN 84-206-4149-9.

López del Ramo, Joaquín, Por las Rutas del Toro, geografia europea del toro de lidia, (1991) Espasa Calpe, Madrid, ISBN 84-239-5438-2.

López del Ramo, Joaquín, Las Claves del Toro, (2002) Espasa Calpe, Madrid, ISBN 84-670-0190-9

Castanet Jean Luis, Campo Bravo, le guide des ganaderías, with an accompanying wall chart, Sangre Brava, Genealogía y Encastes de las Ganaderías de La Union (1995) [Gradually going out of date because of the passage of time and the transfer of herds.]

Publications dealing with the bulls in general with some discussion of genealogy

Bensusan, Ramón Barga, Taurología la ciencia del toro de lidia, (1989) Espasa Calpe, Madrid, ISBN 84-239-5420-X

Bensusan, Ramón Barga, El Toro de Lidia, (1995) Alianza Editorial, Madrid, ISBN 84-206-9441-X

Madariaga, Benito, El Toro de Lidia, (1996) Ediciones Alimara, Madrid.

Publications dealing with the appearance and conformity of the bulls

Montesinos, Adolfo Rodriguez, Prototipos Raciales del Vacuno de Lidia, (2002) Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, Madrid, ISBN 84-491-0537-4.

Montesinos, Adolfo Rodriguez, Pelajes y Encornaduras del Toro de Lidia, (1994) Consejo General de Colegios Veterinarios de España, Madrid, ISBN 84-605-1752-7.

Pérez Santos, Carlos, Caracteristicas Morfológicos Externas del Toro de Lidia, (1996) Aritza Comunicación, S.L. Barcelona, ISBN 84-605-5652-2.

El Decreto Real 60/2002.


Tierra de Toros, VTF Multimedia, Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid.

And that was just to get him started.

[There are, of course, many other useful books on the bulls. There are books on individual ranches, on ranches in individual areas and accounts of individual bulls. There are also books about life on the ganaderías; particularly well thought of are the numerous works of Luis Fernández Salcedo. But such works are not relevant to what we have been discussing, the genealogy of the bulls.]

It is always a pleasure to visit La Casa del Libro on La Gran Vía to see what new taurine books they have in stock, even though there never are many new taurine books that one would want to read. This latest visit held out the hope that the new Domingo Delgado de la Cámara book would be there – it wasn’t. But, El Toro de Lidia, Encastes y Ganaderías Finales del siglo XX – Principios del siglo XX1 by Fernando Carrasco Lacho and, Miguel Criado Garrido, published in 2004 by Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Utrera, ISBN 84-88382-20-0 was. Those who wish to get started on the journey outlined in the first paragraph of this review – and the friend mentioned if he receives my e-mail before he has acquired all of the books I advised him to read - need go no further than this book to ensure a successful take off. It even explains the terms eliptométricos, eumétricos, hypermétricos, cóncavo, subcóncavo, recto, subconvexo, convexo, brevilíneos, longilíneos, and mediolíneos, which I so signally failed to explain in my translation of El Decreto Real 60/2001 in La Divisa No 147 of July 2002.

It offers nothing, of course, to those who do not believe in the existence of castas y encastes, breeds and bloodlines, whose view is that the genetic soup of the camada brava is so varied and mixed up that any attempt to distil it is a waste of time. But my friend with the thirst for a knowledge of the bulls, their history and their appearance will love it. Patronised by La Conserjería de Gobernación de la Junta de Andalucia; La Delegación del Gobierno de la Junta de Andalucia en Sevilla; la Diputación Provincial de Sevilla; El Ayuntamiento de Utrera y los entidades financieras sevillanas El Monte y Caja de San Fernando, it marks a great contrast between the attitudes of the Andalucian authorities to la Fiesta and the attitude of those in Barcelona. The authors are respectively, presidente de la Real Maestranza de la Caballería de Sevilla and Veterinario de la plaza de Sevilla and Veterinario de la Excma. Diputación de Sevilla. The beauty of the work is that it brings together many of the essential elements for a preliminary understanding of the foundational breeds and the modern bloodlines; has pictures and verbal descriptions of – it is to be hoped and assumed – bulls from every ranch that the aficionado is likely to see.

In structure the book deals with the origins of el toro bravo; the morphology of el toro de lidia – coat colour, horn formation and placement, and the identification of the toro from its branded markings and earmarks; the Foundational Breeds and modern bloodlines and the ganaderías of la Unión de Criadores de Toros de Lidia, members of which produce the vast majority of toros which appear in first and second category plazas, the latter dealt with in detail in the order in which they appear in the annual handbook of La Unión de Criadores de Toros de Lidia.

Hitherto, this information has been available in detail in a range of places, many of them listed in the book-list created above. But it has never, to my knowledge, been brought together within the pages of one book. In this one, it has. So, if one wants to know, for example, about the Urquijo-Murube bloodline, one need search the section on the bloodlines for the flow chart of the bloodline in general, pictures of bulls from the bloodline and descriptions of coat colours and type or conformation. At the end of this general description is a list of the main herds in the bloodline. A jump forward to the pages for each of those ganaderías – Murube, Fermín Bohórquez, Luis Albarrán González, Arruci, Pedro y Verónica Gutíerrez Lorenzo, Carmen Lorenzo Carrasco, Herederos de Antonio Ordóñez Araújo Valdemoro, Ángel Luis Peña Sánchez, La Castilleja, Viuda de Flores Tassara, Castilblanco, Castillejo de Huebra, Franciso Campos Peña – reaches a description of the genealogy of the herd, its coat colour and its conformation under the title "Tipo". Clearly, these descriptions are very similar for each ranch but it appears that where shades of difference exist the authors try to acknowledge and describe them. And, of course, where crosses exist between Urquijo-Murube herds and others, they get similar treatment. And so it is for the other bloodlines. The vocabulary of the descriptions has already been dealt with in the early part of the book dealing with morphology, with copious visual information in the form of photographs. And, for every ranch there are some pictures of what their bulls look like.

These pictures do beg the question, "are these bulls in type for their particular herd?". The similarities between bulls from different ranches from the same bloodline suggest that they are. But even if they are not, they gave us a better starting point than has been available up to now.

Every book has its weaknesses. It seems to me that this one would have benefited from a more thorough treatment of those stages through which the toro bravo went from the aurochs to the foundational breeds. A single page on that phase is scarcely enough. The descent diagrams showing developments from foundational breeds to modern bloodlines are reduced to small sections and there is no complete tree giving the whole picture. It is time that an update was created of the whole family tree of la camada brava. The only one I have found is Sangre Brava, Genealogía y Encastes de las Ganaderías de la Unión by Juan Luis Castanet and Renaud Macarez - not surprisingly, produced by French aficionados – but it grows gradually out of date. The descent description of each ranch is sketchy. Buenavista, for example (the book happens to be open at that page in front of me) gets 25 words while it merits 119 in the 2004 handbook of the UCTL. Finally, and this is a small point but relevant, the book does not follow exactly the naming of the ganaderías used by the UCTL in particular with respect of their rather daft use of inverted commas round the names of many ganaderías. Uniformity in that area would be useful.

These deficiencies and the impossiblity of covering all of the necessary ground in a book of 476 pages mean that not all of the books hitherto written on the subject are redundant. Nevertheless, anyone wishing a springboard into an understanding of the appearance, and genealogy of the fighting bull will find no better starting point than, El Toro de Lidia, Encastes y Ganaderías Finales del siglo XX – Principios del siglo XXI by Fernando Carrasco Lancho and Miguel Criado Garrido.