Rodeo in Papudo, Chile
Sunday, January 23, 2011
In addition to being a businessman, farm owner, painter, and very funny guy, Ricardo Ceriani, my host at Chilefarms, is an excellent horseman. Yesterday, he participated in one of his first rodeos of the season, and WON! Primer Lugar. El Campeon.
The men that you see on horseback in movies are actors. The men who ride in Chilean rodeos are real cowboys.
I’ve learned the basics of Chilean rodeo from Ricardo and Susaan. The event has lots of moving parts, no pun intended. The best introduction I’ve found is below. The full link describes the complexity of form and scoring.
“The Chilean Rodeo is a paired team event whereby the members of the team have to take turns between driving and pinning positions. The objective of the sport is to show control in driving a steer to a given section on the half-moon arena (called “medialuna” in Spanish) wall where some part of the side of the bovine’s anatomy is pushed by the chest of the pinning horse until the steer is pinned to a standstill on the padded cushion that defines the Pinning Zone. The judged event establishes a score that is made up of points earned, minus points deducted for faults.”
The event demands stamina, endurance, and skill. We’re talking about nearly two tons of horses and riders plus one unpredictable steer in motion. One moment the pair may be at a full gallop with the steer, the next, depending on the x factor, the steer, they may be stalled and need to keep the animal between them along the edge of the media luna. In the fastest moments, the riders, horses and steer fly by in a blur.
Rodeos begin on Saturday. if you place well enough on an exacting point system (see link above), you return on Sunday for the finals.
Chilean rodeo horses have to meet certain standards of height, girth, hair, and skin. Ricardo knows the lineage of every horse in his stable. The man has loved horses since he was a kid growing up near here. He has no respect for competitors who abuse their horses if they suffer a loss in a rodeo. The ribbons pinned to the walls in his barn and farmhouse attest to the fact that you don’t have to scare your horse into performing well.
This year, Ricardo sought out a mentor, a man whose knowledge of horsemanship is well respected. Ricardo lights right up when he tells me what he's learning by watching Don Mario take his horse through his paces. Some day, a young cowboy will be asking Don Ricardo to show him how to handle his own horse.
There are weeks to go in the season. Yesterday was a good start.
The 'media luna' in Papudo, Chile, a few kilometers from the coast. (Photo top right) The steer enters the small ring in front of the grandstand through a chute and must be driven around that ring two and a half times. A gate is opened and the riders must drive the steer around the half circle (media luna) three times, maintaining contact with the steer at all times. Each time, they must pin the steer to a padded area at each end of the media luna. The fourth time they must drive the steer sucessfully through an exit gate. Teamwork and timing are essential.
Ricardo and his riding partner Fifo await their turn - and are first in the winner's procession, right behind the rodeo marshals, Los Capatazes.
After the procession, the tradition is to gallop around the media luna with the "Queens" of today's rodeo.
Photo opp with the Queens before given the prizes (Ricardo and Fifo each received a flat screen TV).
At the end of a long day, time to take home the awards.