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Chile's National Sport: Rodeo
The birthplace of the Chilean rodeo was in the Central Valley, the heartland of Chile. The participants are "huasos," Chilean cowboys who dress for the rodeos with elegant ponchos or chamantos, carved wooden stir-ups, silver spurs, and flat-brimmed hats called "chupallas." Huasos work with "criolla" horses who are trained especially to work in the tight space of rodeo half-moon stadiums (medialunas). Chilean rodeos are not only about equestrian skills and the purity of the horse's breed but also about working in teams of two to work to lift the "novillo" (young steer) and touch the cow against a cushion for points from a judge. Rodeos in Chile are wildly popular and the season runs every year from September (the month of Independence holidays) to April, culminating in the rodeo finals in the provincial city of Ranchagua, an hour south of Santiago. Rodeos are a family endeavor, and often nice restaurants set up during the event to serve classic Chilean cuisine. For locations and times, refer to the link below, or if you cannot attend a match, there is a rodeo channel on Chilean cable TV during the season.
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