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A Day on the Pampas
Estancia Santa Susana

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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A Day on the Pampas at Estancia Santa Susana:

Located an hour's drive from Buenos Aires, Estancia Santa Susana is near the town of Los Cardales in Buenoes Aires Province.  It occupies almost 3000 acres and is mainly dedicated to agricultural activities. Today the original house is a small museum and the immediate grounds offer "a day on the pampas" experience to visitors every day of the week. 

Upon arrival at the estancia you are greeted with empanadas and a refreshing juice, wine or beer. You have time to visit the home-turned-museum, filled with the family's furniture, gadgets and clothes from the past, and the small chapel next to the main house.  There is also time to go horseback riding or take a ride in a horse drawn carriage.  And all this while, the gauchos are cooking lunch over huge beds of coal.

Then enjoy lunch of four salads and a selection of grilled meats, follwed by dessert, and all accompanied by wine, beer or soft drinks.

After lunch there is a show with a couple dancing tango to recorded music followed by a live trio playing folkloric (Gaucho) music while the same couple, decked out in traditional Gaucho clothes, dances, complete with fascinating display of the "bolleadores" - braided leather cords with wooden balls that the Gaucho dancer wields in a circle, allowing the wooden ball to hit the floor in a manner to create a rhythm. The Gaucho also uses his boots - bottoms and sides - to create a rythmic beat as well. 

            NOTE: Shows that included Gaucho folkloric music and dancing are not so easy to find in Buenos Aires any more, so this is an excellent option.

After the show you move outside to a viewing area along side a huge field for two traditional Gaucho activities:

Carrera de Sortijas (Ring race)
The carrera de sortijas (ring race) comes from the time the Spanish came to South America. There is a “goal” and from its crossbeam hang some rings. The objective of the game is for player to come galloping and remove the rings from the goal with a pointer. Players come galloping one by one or two or three at a time. Then the players give the rings to some women in the audience as presents from a “gaucho”.

Entrevero de Tropillas
The group of horses is compound by 8 or 9 male horses that follow a mare (termed "godmother") that has a bell around her neck. The mare is led by a gaucho. The objective is for no male horse to leave the group. Five groups of horses come together and mix. Every horse has to stay within its group. The horses in each group are all the same color.
            NOTE: below is a separate and more descriptive explanation of this activity by Endurance Net, along with a link to their sire for even more Gaucho traditions and activities.

LADATCO's "Day on the Pampas at Estancia Santa Susana" includes:

  • Private transfers Buenos Aires-Estancia Santa Susana-Buenos Aires
  • Services of a private guide
  • Empanadas & wine reception in the ranch's pub
  • Beverages: soft drinks, water, sparkling water, juice, red & white wine, beer.
  • Lunch including
        Starters: Chorizo (pork sausage) – morcilla (blood sausage)
        Main dish: variety of meat , chicken, “bife de chorizo”
        Variety of salads
        Desserts: “pastelitos criollos” & coffee
  • Guided visit to the museum & to the church
  • Horseback riding and "sulky" rides
  • Entertainment including tango and Gaucho folkloric music & dancing
  • "Destrezas Criollas" including
        sortija race
        Entrevero de Tropillas
        cuadreras race

A great explanation of "tropillas" taken from a larger article
from the web site of "2005 Pan American Endurance Championships, April 13-15 2005 by "Endurance Net"
Great first hand description of La Fiesta de Tropillas

Here's the problem: the rangelands of Argentina and the pampas were vast - horses, cattle, sheep, Indians, gauchos, ranchos spread across the land. The people had to travel great distances by horseback, and each man needed more than one horse to do the work. The work of transportation - simply getting from one place to another, and the work of moving and managing the herds of cattle and bands of horses.

Here's the solution: train a band of horses to travel together, to stay together, to always seek and follow a leader. Like a tight school of fish, or a flock of sheep, or goslings bound to their mother, panicking if they are separated or she gets out of sight. Create a band of horses that wake, graze and travel as one. No need for fences or corrals, no need for halters and ropes. Wherever the madrina goes, the others follow. Where she is picketed, they stay. When she moves they follow. Where she is led, the others go. A band of horses - broke to saddle, trained to work, and always at hand. Simply change saddles from one horse to another, any time, anywhere on the range.

The look in the eye of these horses is different when they are free, when their madrina is on the move. Their focus is intent, always an ear or an eye toward the mare with the bell. It's the look you see in the eye when something startles a herd - what now? where now? run? stay? - ears erect and pointing toward the danger, but the focus toward the lead mare for direction.

Over the years the tropilla has become a tradition, a specialty - defined visually and functionally. It must meet certain standards of composition, and performance. The size of the tropilla generally ranges between 10 and 20 horses. There is always a mare, the 'madrina' (godmother) who wears a bell collar. A loud bell, the bell that the others are trained to follow and stay close to. No matter what. This mare is always of a different color from the others.

There is also the 'lunar' - (the mole, the beauty mark) - a gelding of yet another different, distinctive color. The lunar - the mole - is the accent of the tropilla - the artistic touch - the signature of the owner.

The rest are geldings, generally of the same color, ideally of the same size and type. All blacks, all tobianos, all overos, or all roans, etc. The madrina and lunar are chosen to have complementary colors. For instance, if the band is black/white tobiano, the mole might be a bay/white tobiano - and the madrina a solid black.