be a rodeo champion
in Chile carries with it the same honor and
prestige as many professional sports in North
America. In 1962 rodeo was declared the national
sport of Chile. Since then it has thrived
especially in the more rural areas of the
country. Huasos have been known to travel
hundreds of miles to compete in these competitions.
However, rodeo in Chile is very different
that its North American counterpart found
in the Western United States.
The rodeo in Chile is a test of horse and
rider, where exceptional horsemanship is the
only prerequisite to winning. Rodeos in Chile
are conducted in half moon arenas that resemble
corrals called the Media Luna.
The rodeo is a time of celebration where the
whole pueblo will come out and cheer for their
favorites. The atmosphere is carnival like
and festive with plenty of music, dancing
and food. There is usually an asado (open
pit barbeque) going on outside the arena with
a variety of empanadas being served and other
local favorites. Here you will see the hausos
dressed in their Sunday best with colorful
ponchos and sashes, leather vests, large brimmed
cowboy hats striped pants, large spurs and
fine black leather boots. Their tack is also
equally impressive and intricate, highlighted
by stirrups, ornately carved from orange wood.
The rules of the rodeo are straight forward
and very simple. A steer enters the Media
Luna from one side and runs in one direction,
usually clockwise. The huasos compete in teams
of two and must pin the steer against the
side of the arena and turn it in the opposite
direction. How efficiently they are able to
execute the turn and what “form”
they use will determine their overall score.
Points can be added and deducted for each
turn and the competition ends after the steer
is turned three times.
The rodeo is a test of both riders and horses;
the mounts ridden in these rodeos are some
of the best trained in Chile. The horses work
in concert with the huasos to pin and turn
the steer. They are specially trained to run
sideways and work with the huasos in turning
the animal. The horses respond almost instinctually
to the slightest touch of the halter or prompting
from the huaso’s spurs. The rodeo competition
is what the Chilean Corralero was bred for
and to watch them perform is always memorable.
In Futaleufu the Media Luna lies just outside
of town and every February the pueblo hosts
a regional rodeo and equestrian competition.
The guests that have vacationed with us on
trips, when the rodeo was taking place, have
often said it was one of the highlights of
their time with us.
Vacation options include: Lodge
Based Horseback Riding in Chile , Expedition
Horseback Riding in Patagonia, Chile
Horseback Riding Trail Rides, Patagonia
Horseback Riding - Cowboy Routes. Horseback
Riding Chile - Lakes Route For more information
see our Horseback
Riding Patagonia FAQs
Downloadable pdf: Chile Horseback Riding