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LOS HUASOS

DEL RODEO

In Chile the rodeo is one of the most popular and colourful activities in the country. It arose from the tradition of the hard work and skill of the cowboys in controlling their livestock. After spending the winter in the hills, the cattle would be guided down to farms and markets in the springtime. The cowboys or `huasos` were usually very strong and skilfull with horses, to enable them to lead the cattle safely through dangerous terrain and rivers. Strays needed to be quickly rounded up back into the safety of the herds.

 

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The annual National Rodeo championships in Chile are famous in South America and worldwide. They are physically and mentally testing for the most skilfull of cowboys who participate in the festivities. Their outfits are vividly coloured with striking hats, ponchos, pants and boots with decorated spurs. The various games in the rodeo are based on the typical tasks undertaken by the huasos in their daily jobs in controlling and driving their cattle in different situations.

 

The horsemen usually operate in pairs in their jobs. A young bull is introduced into an arena and agitated with loud noises to scare it into charging around the circular enclosure. The cowboys then have to stop and control the animal at a predetermined spot signified by a flag. A jury then decides which pair controlled the bull in the best manner and fastest time. Their decision is final and not questioned. Of course all this excitement is further accompanied with music, dancing and tradiitional food and wine of the region.

 

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