SAN DIEGO — One of the most impressive events in Mexican rodeo is made up of women called escaramuzas. They are horse-riding, side-saddle athletes helping to keep the centuries-old sport alive.

You may be surprised to know that there are teams that exist in the United States, including in San Diego.

“Escaramuzas actually goes back multiple, multiple years. It’s part of Mexican heritage,” Giselle Gonzalez told FOX 5.

It’s a national sport in Mexico. Escaramuzas charra is the only female equestrian event in the Mexican rodeo.

Gonzalez is a member of Escaramuza El Lucero, a team that formed in the South Bay more than a year ago.

“We have little girls, we have in-between, we have the older ones. And we’ve been just practicing, practicing just to be competing,” Gonzalez said.

Escaramuzas ride horses to music in a unique fashion.

“It consists of eight girls with obviously there are eight horses,” Gonzalez said. “And it’s just multiple exercises that we do. We do spins, we do crosses, all types of exercises that all in the end come together into a beautiful performance.”

Think of it as synchronized swimming on horses — very precise, choreographed maneuvers. And these are moves that not just anyone can do. These athletes sit side-saddle.

“You actually have all the weight to one side,” Gonzalez said. “You have to balance more. It’s a lot of core work.”

The sport was inspired by adelitas, who were women fighters during the Mexican revolution in the early 1900s.

Girls competing in escaramuzas wear traditional outfits.

“We have obviously our big dress with a bunch of designs. So when we sit on the saddle, we usually tend to push the dress over to the left, so when we have our performance you’re able to see the saddle, the designs on the saddle, the designs on the dress and then of course the sombrero.”

“Before the performance, when we do compete, there’s usually two girls that do what is called a ‘punta’ and from there we just go off full speed,” Gonzalez said.

While there are few competitions in the U.S., escaramuzas teams mostly compete in Mexico.

Aside from these ladies displaying their athleticism, Gonzalez says this sport is also a way for them to showcase their cultural heritage and affirm their Mexican-American identity.

“It’s pure adrenaline, full excitement and it’s just the best emotion ever,” Gonzalez said.