Patagonia’s Gauchos: The Cowboy Way (Photo Essay)

April 7, 2011

Since we were trying to avoid the rain at Torres del Paine, we headed over to the stables near the Hotel Las Torres to watch the gauchos prepare the horses for the winter.

The tourist season was ending so it was time to prepare the horses for winter.

An important task is to remove some of the horseshoes.

Some praise and attention is in order for the horses, of course.

After the shoes are removed, each horse received some nutrients.

This horse was quite feisty and it took a lot of work to get her into the stall. Maybe she liked her shoes? I can relate…

John bonded with this one.

The purpose of the preparation was to let the horses go free to roam and graze for the winter.

Have you ever watched cowboys at work?

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  • Kyle

    Look how scared the guacho looks when the horse reared up…you’d think he’d be used to it by now!

    • Andrea and John

      Haha, he was yelling a lot at the horses in Spanish – I didn’t really know what was going on =)

  • Laurel

    What an interesting look into the cowboy side of life. My grandfather and uncles are farmers, although I’ve never really gotten into the cowboy side of things. It always looks more exotic when it’s not in your own country.

    • Andrea and John

      I’ve never been into it either but I really enjoyed our time watching these guys – I have a lot of respect for them seeing how hard they work.

  • Caz Makepeace

    I loved these photos.One of my dream things to do is spend at least a week on a ranch. It would be so much fun.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Caz. I reckon it would be totally. Surely you can do that in Oz at the jackeroo and jilleroo schools?

  • Julia

    Great photos! What a unique way to spend a day. Loving the caption for the feisty horse! Haha

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Julia! =) This was the first time I’ve photographed people and animals together so it was a really special session for me. That horse was wild!

  • emilyinchile

    Aww, I loved these guys! We saw them when we were there, since we stayed at the refugio just down the road, and I wished we’d had time to go for a ride.

    • Andrea and John

      Oh how cool that they were the same guys – so friendly! I’ve never ridden a horse, actually but would love to try it sometime…

  • South America Me

    What great photos. Love them!
    I wonder how hard it is to round them all up again once winter is over.
    Rob W.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Rob! I was wondering the same thing, haha =)

  • Erin in Costa Rica

    Cool photos! Interesting process, the horses here in Costa Rica don’t get a season off since the weather is nice year-round.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks, Erin! Awww, sad…everyone deserves some time off

  • Cathy Sweeney

    Spending a day with gauchos — how cool! Interesting story. I’ve never had an up close experience watching cowboys work — but would like to.

    • Andrea and John

      I hadn’t either before, Cathy – certainly an eye-opener! I love horses but really know nothing about them.

  • Christy & Kali

    Awesome photos! And that rope bridle in the second photo looks really interesting.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, guys! =) Yeah, noticed that too…think it’s just temporary for moving the horse but not sure

  • manonthelam

    Great pix! I’m in Alberta, so lots of cowboys (and cowgirls) in these here parts. A good friend owns a dairy farm so I’m more used to being around cows though. :>)

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks! =) we’re much more used to seeing cows as well, haha

  • Debbie Beardsley

    The pictures are great! Patagonia looks even more wonderful that I previously thought. Must have been a great experience spending time with the gauchos.

    • Andrea and John

      There is certainly more happening in Patagonia than we thought. Lots of estancias (ranches) down here so it is certainly part of the life. Thanks!

  • Peter Heck

    Awesome photos you guys!! I love horses and riding, this would have been such a blast to experience! I really would like to spend some time on a ranch and learn all about the life.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Peter =) we actually know very little about horses and really enjoyed this as a first-time experience

  • Sarah Wu

    Interesting photos, love the way you shot them,

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Sarah! =)

  • Natalie

    Fantastic pictures. You have just reminded me that there is a horse safari place near here. Might take a drive up today. Would you believe I have never been there!

    • Andrea and John

      Sounds really interesting…horse safari? I’d love to know more…

  • Turkey’s For Life

    They’re great photos! Whenever I come into this site, you’re either caught up in lots of rain, or trying to avoid rain. :) Are you not having much luck with the weather?

    • Andrea and John

      Haha, well we’ve been in the rainy season lately in Chile but before that had pretty good luck with the weather in New Zealand. The last few days in Argentina we have had fantastic weather. Just Torres del Paine had awful weather for us

  • Jade

    Great photos- i love that I feel like the one horse is staring right at me. kinda spooky, kinda sweet.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks, Jade…I know which one you mean, I just LOVE the look on that horse’s face. So sweet =)

  • Sophie

    Nice photo essay, guys!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Sophie!

  • Randy

    Great photos! The third one from the bottom is my favorite; it’s classic.I also really dig the gaucho in the beret and wool sweater. He reminds me of a mad beatnik poet.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much =) He was a character, haha!

  • Bluegreen Kirk

    Nice photo essay im not sure about being the on who has to change the horseshoes though. Just curious but what do horses do in the wild without horseshoes?

    • Andrea and John

      Eat, drink and chill I suppose. Not sure but I was really wondering how they keep warm…

  • Nicole

    Beautiful photos, love how they tell the story. So cool you got to be there for the end of the season transition! :)

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Nicole! It was a very lucky surprise, indeed =)

  • Laura

    These are some gorgeous photos! They really capture the feeling of Patagonia and the gauchos – so cool you guys got to spend time there!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Laura =) We really enjoyed Patagonia; flying up to Bariloche this afternoon for a few more days and then that’s it. Taking some great memories with us, of course

  • Sonya

    Beautiful photo essay of Patagonia and cowboy culture!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Sonya!

  • Akila

    Wow – gorgeous photos! Love the whole feel of the gauchos with their horses.

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Akila! We really enjoyed watching them; we’d never seen anything like that before

  • Michael Figueiredo

    Beautiful photos of such magnificent animals! :)

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Michael. Horses really wow me – I don’t have any experience with them so maybe the mystique is part of it

  • Mara Gorman

    Love that guy with the beret and goatee and the Prince Valiant hair!

    • Andrea and John

      Haha, they were all characters but he had an especially interesting look =)

  • Anonymous

    these are gorgeous you two! so lush and beautiful subjects to snap for. i have seen cowboys at work- in argentina at mar de ajo. i found it really meditative- so totally relaxing to watch and hope to do more of it here in the states on my cross-country trip. :)

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Lorna! I’m sure you’ll find plenty of cowboys along your travels. Something tells me they may look a little different, though =)

  • roy | cruisesurfingz

    Wow, and here I thought cowboys was a North American thing :)

    • Andrea and John

      Haha, I suspect the culture may be a little different but who knows!

    • Kelsey Freeman

      Actually, American cowboys evolved from Spanish/South American vaqueros and gauchos!

    • Andrea and John

      Had no idea about that, Kelsey! Thanks for filling us in…very interesting

  • Kelsey Freeman

    Nice shots! Great, warm lighting, there.

  • Anita Gray

    Love horses. These photos capture their strength and spirit. Like the beret on one of the gaucho’s heads too!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much, Anita! We saw a few berets on gauchos and guides in Patagonia – must be the fashion! =)

  • Katrina

    I used to train horses, so I love seeing how it’s handled in different cultures. Well, provided it’s with love and respect. And these horses look very well cared for, so this was definitely a treat. Thanks for posting! :)

    • Andrea and John

      There definitely seemed to be love there. We really enjoyed watching them. Thanks for commenting =)

  • Andrea and John

    Thanks so much, Madhu! =)

  • Angie

    I love this post.  Great photos and so interesting to see the gauchos at work!

    • Andrea and John

      Thank you so much, Angie! It’s one of my favourite posts so that means so much to me. We loved watching them work – they have to be so patient!

  • Federico

    Great photos, very descriptive of what was going on!

    • Andrea and John

      Thanks so much Federico! =)

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