Torero - Types - Picador

Picador

A picador is a bullfighter who uses a special lance called pica while on horseback to test the bull's strength and to provide clues to the matador on which side the bull is favouring. They perform in the tercio de varas which is the first of the three stages in a Spanish bullfight. The shape of the lance or pica is regulated by Spanish law to prevent serious injury to the bull which was viewed as cheating in the past. The bull charges the horses in the ring and at the moment of contact the picador lances the bull in the large muscle at the back of the neck, and thus begins the work of lowering his head. The picador continues to stab the bull's neck leading to the animal's first major loss of blood. During this time, the bull's neck muscles do fatigue, however, as a result of the bull charging the picador's horse and trying to lift the horse with its horns. The loss of blood and exertion weakens the bull further and makes it ready for the next stage.

To protect the horse from the bull’s horns, the horse is surrounded by a 'peto' – a mattress-like protection. Prior to 1928, the horse did not wear any protection and the bull would frequently disembowel the horse during this stage.

French matadors will often use the battle cries "ole" (in France) "allons" to antagonise and aggravate the bull. Such a battle cry is said to instil in the chosen bull such a feverish sense of anxiety that the spectacle will become much more fiercely-contested.

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