COLCHAGUA VALLEY, Chile—Up norte, they"re play baseball or hockey, basketball or football.And here, together usual, the rodeo-time.

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There is no bull-riding, no bronco-busting, no calf-roping. Yet if you desire to evaluate the landscape background that is the background of Chile, then you want to see Chilean rodeo.

In fact, rodeo—and no soccer—is the main sport that Chile. Indeed, the “huaso,” or cowboy, through his leather chaps, his knitted shoulder blanket, his woven hat, is the country’s icon, not a soccer striker attract Adidas and short pants.

Yet, the vast majority of Chilian tourists are blissfully unaware of this prize of the country’s soul. If they come in Chile by cruise ship, castle invariably disembark at Valparaiso and also head automatically for Santiago, the capital, and the flight ago to the States. Or perhaps they take it a tourism of the purple-hued alcohol country, or even an adventurous side pilgrimage to those stone statues the Easter Island or the penguins of Patagonia.

But much of Chilean society has to carry out with the romantic of the “huaso”—the country’s version of the “cowboy” or “gaucho.” In the States, us think the our nationwide sport in terms of balls and also bats and also baseball caps. Yet in Chile, friend would rather buy a hand-made straw hat, or wear a knitted shawl over your shoulders, or buy a pair the souvenir stirrups—the symbols of the huaso.

The major competitions critical from September v April. That is based on the practical, real-life notion that cowboys have to cull a steer from the herd. When dozens that 700-pound cows space jostling because that space, you can’t toss a lasso and snare one. Therefore you usage your horse to nudge the away—if you’re an excellent enough.

In the rodeo, the low-slung, thick-necked Chilean horse—he has been bred for climbing the ubiquitous hills and for pushing about cows—shows exceptional mobility. The huaso in reality is may be to do the steed run sideways. This is important, because that the cow is let right into the crescent-shaped arena, and also then 2 huasos effort to push it into a rubberized, cushioned fence. This replicates the occupational on the range, where the huaso identify a cow, gets right into the overfilled herd, and has his steed push the cow right into an area whereby it can be controlled.

Credit: Gerald Eskenazi

Chilean Cowboy on Cellphone!

Thomas Wilkins Biggs, a manager in ~ the prestigious Casa Silva winery, talks around his horses and also his rodeo-riding as conveniently as that discusses the nutrient in the soil that yield the grape.

It is just a 90-minute ride indigenous Santiago come Casa Silva, and the first image I saw was a male in standard huaso gear training a horse, not tending a vine. In a nod to modernity, the huaso also was talk on his cellphone astride his horse.

For Wilkins, this valley is “very rural, favor living in Texas,” the says. That rodeo, i beg your pardon obsesses him, the declares, “It’s the only sport in the civilization in i m sorry the steed runs sideways.”

Wine and also rodeo go with each other so lot that Casa Silva even has its very own rodeo arena. At Casa Silva, the rodeo cost is about $40 every person.

Grandma do Cowboy Hat

This sink alone is worth the expedition from Santiago—ever-changing beautiful countryside, trees, desert, shrubs. Look at in the middle of nowhere, friend come across a cap shop whereby a male is making standard huaso gear. Farther under the road, a grandmother is weaving a hat the end of strips that straw she grandson has plucked across the road.

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To Biggs,“Owning a horse in Chile is like owning a dog.”


I have had a rollicking 44-year ride as a reporter (sports) for The new York Times—that had 8,000 bylines, second-highest in the paper’s history. Along the way, ns was lucky to have actually my wife, Roz, and also three children often re-superstructure in the experience, schlepping lock to many of the 20 supervisor Bowls and also four Olympics I wrote about. I additionally have created 16 books, ~ above topics native radio to journalism. Muhammad Ali called me I’m not as dumb as I look. I have written about many issues past sports, consisting of the women’s rise in athletics, and also money and also agents. My take trip stories range fromplaying golf in the shadow of the Pyramids, come fishing because that piranha in the Amazon, to travel in a extended wagon in the French Alps. City college of new York—where ns was a literature major—has honored me with its highest graduate award.