The Freio de Ouro (Golden Bit) is a huge annual competition for the Crioulo breed in Brazil. Competitors and breeders from throughout southern Latin America come together in Esteio, a city in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, for a best of breed competition and associated auctions and expositions. The Crioulo is the main breed found in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, and is also bred in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile (in those Spanish-speaking countries it is called the Criollo). Argentina and Uruguay in particular share a strong horse culture and breed bloodlines with Rio Grande do Sul.
The Campolina is a popular saddle horse breed from Brazil, most commonly found in the states of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. It is a gaited breed, tall and lean, with a distinctive "banana nose,**" quite large ears, long neck and sloping croup. It is ideal for long distance riding, and famed for its pleasant temperament and comfortable gaits. They are also used for general ranch work.
A new film, currently in production, takes an inside look at the world of Escaramuza. Escaramuza means "skirmish", and the riding combines an unsettling blend of pretty girls in fancy clothes riding sidesaddle with fast-paced, heart-pounding drill team maneuvers. It is really a unique tradition!
I spoke to filmmaker Robin Rosenthal about the making of the film - read on below to see what she had to say about how she got into the world of Escaramuza and some of the challenges she and her husband faced in making the film.
Escaramuza: Riding From the Heart is looking for financial support to complete the editing and marketing of the documentary. The deadline for pledging your support is July 16th! Even small amounts are helpful. You can view the trailer and find out more about pledging to help support the completion of this unique documentary by using the widget below:
After this introductory day we drove inland and upland several hours, to a large ranch where we would be based for our next ride. The ranch was a small cluster of buildings amidst vast hills; it had small but lovely hotel facilities and fantastic food.
Back in June of 2008 my husband and I visited the south of Brazil and spent several days in the competent hands of Paulo and Angela Hafner, of Campofora, a riding outfit there. Paulo leads rides throughout southern Brazil, and even into adjoining Uruguay, which can range from a few days to a few weeks in length. The Hafner's are most excellent hosts, and Paulo is a serious, sensible and interesting guide, prioritizing the care and safety of the horses and guests while taking them through spectacular scenery and telling fascinating stories about local history and culture.
Southern Brazil is Gaucho country - the culture is related to that of Uruguay and northern Argentina - and the culture, horses and riding style are distinctive to that region. I have posted some snippets from this trip before (see this post, and this), but following is a photo tour of the beautiful country we saw.
This short video shows two Sorraia horses in a carriage driving event in Portugal. The Sorraia is an ancient breed thought to have been influential in the development of the Lusitano horse. The Portuguese breed association page is here. You can find English information here.
This is a short video of a gaited mule on a country road in Brazil, in São Paulo state. This is a show-quality mule, out for a training ride. Mules are quite popular in Brazil, and this one is bred from a Mangalarga Marchador horse (one of the most popular breeds in Brazil).