About The Esquivel Brothers
Antonio and Joe Esquivel were champion Vaqueros, born in San Antonio, Texas. They toured with Buffalo Bill from 1883 to 1893, and from 1902 to 1905. Tony Esquivel was considered to be one of the greatest riders in Wild West show history, and was well known in both the United States and abroad.
The two brothers were very talented both at riding and with a lasso, skills acquired in their home town of San Antonio, Texas, and used to entertain the crowds of the Wild West Show. San Antonio was a town with a culture that revolved around vaqueros and cowboys. Contrary to popular belief, rodeo is not a direct outgrowth of the cattle business, but has a long history in Spain and Mexico. Riding bucking horses and wild bulls became popular contests among the Spanish elite in sixteenth-century Mexico, and both bull riding and bull wrestling were seen by thousands of spectators in the Mexican plazas de toros from the early nineteenth century.
Roping was one of the few children’s activities by nineteenth-century chroniclers of border life. Roping farm animals and household pets was a universal pastime of the young from San Antonio to Santa Fe, while roping wild bulls and mustangs was equally popular among adults. San Antonio was the perfect environment to breed talent for Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West” show, and the Esquivel brothers were well suited for all aspects of the show.
In 1888, at “Farwell Day” in England, Tony Esquivel rode 13 broncos for America in a 10-mile relay, competing against a British gentleman who rode thoroughbreds. Tony had the great talent of leaping from one moving mount to another, practiced during the Pony Express show, and easily beat his English counterpart, who had to dismount and remount a still horse. The difference when they crossed the finish line was over 300 yards and 20,000 spectators enthusiastically cheered both riders.