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.
Something you'll come across on occasion in parts of Brazil (I've seen it mostly in the state of São Paulo) is parade tack made of brass rings. Here is an example of a breast collar, being shown to me by a student at the Universidade do Cavalo, in Sorocaba:
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.
A photographer friend of mine sent me these shots of dozing taxi horses in Cuba. Her specialty is people, and you can see some of her super portraits from the Caribbean, China and other far-flung places at her website, SelahPhoto. Thanks for the contribution, Suzanne!
The Puerto Rican Criollo is a gaited breed of mixed ancestry* (that's what "criollo" means) with a variety of gaits. The slowest gait is a short-stepping fast walk, called the paso fino (which can be seen in this video). The paso largo is a lengthened, faster running walk. Like the speed rackers of the United States and the Icelandic Horse, some Puerto Rican Criollos can do a singlefoot gait (called andadura) at tremendous speeds. Some may pace at high speeds. Racers, called Caballos de Andadura, are often raced drag-race style in short sprint heats, two-by-two.