Amazing Doma Photos… (Argentinian Rodeo)


Truth to tell, I am not a fan of rodeo.  Well, parts I am… like bull riding.  But truly, I’m more of a proponent of the animals and find myself rooting for the poor bull or the tiny calf.

Having said that, a reader wrote to me and offered me these photos with the same caveat, “I’m not a fan of rodeo but some of these photos are amazing!”

Well, she was right.  Some of the photos were indeed, amazing.

I decided to pass them onward with the condition that the shots I’m showing here appear to present the horse as winning.  ;)


Martina Vannelli is the photographer for all of these photos except one.  I haven’t met her but I wish I had.  She sure has an eye!


I don’t know much about rodeos in Argentina.  It appears that the tack is very different.  They seem to use a whip when bronc riding.  The horses seem very fit.  I have no idea why some of the tails are cut.  And, I don’t see a bucking strap.

If any of you know the rules here, please let me know.  I am interested and could find nothing on the Internet.  There seems to be a blue pole in every shot.  I’m sure it is significant.


From looking at the photos, I can surmise that spectator safety is up for grabs.  I swear, in half of the shots, you see kids with hotdogs wandering around the background, loose foals, ladies chatting, people riding, no fences, no barriers, groups of people in lawn chairs, cars parked right along the perimeters…  I was aghast yet taken by the total sense of calm while all this bucking and mayhem was ensuing right in front of everyone.


Oh, and these horses that were previously bucking are later seen being walked off the area as calm as could be.  I am not sure if these are wild and untrained?…  Or, if they are trained to buck?  No idea.  What I do know is that most of them seemed much larger than bucking broncs in the US.  But, I could be wrong.


Ouch. But, the horse looks amazing!

Ay Chi wowa!

I would have so let go by this point...

At least he won't get stomped on, too...

That's gonna hurt...

This one looks like a huge draft cross... and it kills me how the guy is hanging onto his hat... as if!

I don't know what to think about his one... they both look very balanced. I guess I was taken by the woman in the lawnchair back there...


I found this one while researching  – or trying to research – Argentina rodeo.  I thought it deserved to be in this photo chronicle.

I wonder if they have ambulances standing by? I sure didn't see any in the photos...


These two were in the mix.  I thought the first one was really beautiful and I wish there was a shot of the whole horse.  I hate that they cut off the tails…

The second one is a stirrup.  Very interesting.

This reminds me of an ice-cream sandwich...

If I was using these, my horse would be MISERABLE. With my short little legs, I'd be spiking him with the corner of that bell shaped leather point!

Well, that is it for today!  Thank you for coming to Argentina with me!  And, thank you, Martina Vannelli, wherever you are…

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

February Drop in the Bucket Fund:  LEROY, THE WONDERPONY
He was found in a Home Depot parking lot with a huge leg wound. To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate towards the care of LeRoy, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)


LeRoy! Click here!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

10 comments have been posted...

  1. Francesca Addison

    Why can’t these horses buck? I’ve been looking at some videos and their back legs aren’t working properly. Something is forcing the horse to go up and sometimes over, not once have I seen a horse at this type of rodeo get it’s heels in the air, not natural…

  2. NBE

    I think rodeo and horse racing are cruel and should be abolished. These days, when I go to a show, I just pray that all the horses will finish their rounds safely. Used to love watching the Prix de Nations @ National Horse Show (Puissance) but cannot bear the tension anymore. Horses have served man through war and peace since the beginning of time. Can’t we repay them with kindness rather than forcing them into dangerous and inhumane situations? God bless the animals.

  3. Martina


    I am the photographer that took the photos. I knew when I posted the photos that they might be controversial. I knew the first time I went to the event I might not like what I saw but I am here in Argentina and I wanted to experience part of the culture. Plus I like to see things for myself before I make a judgment.

    The place is very festive and people spend the whole day there picnicking or buying food there. There is a dance hall where they play traditional music and you can watch people dressed up like gauchos dancing with their partners. This place is keeping their history and traditions alive. To answer someone question, yes there was an ambulance at the event.

    The horses are in a field tied up in the shade before things start and are relaxed. The field is connected the ring. When it is their turn to go they lead them out to the pole. There are no tame horses used to calm the wild horses down. These animals are not wild and are somewhat halter broke. Most are bred for this. They do not whip them into a frenzy before it starts but they may be given a smack on the ass when they are released. Some are blindfolded to keep them calm so they don’t hurt anyone or themselves while they put the saddle on and the rider mounts. Some of them do jump around and rear. The rider tries to stay on for 10 seconds but most horses dump them before that. If the rider lasts 10 seconds the pick up riders try to get him the horses are then herded back towards the field where everything is removed and they are turned out to graze until they are loaded into the trucks to go home. I talked with one of the riders and most of the time each horse only goes once unless they have a lot of riders and too few horses. I was also told that they have restrictions on the spurs. They should not cut or leave a mark on the horse. As you can see from the photos they all have good weight and muscle. I saw no lame horses while I was there and I saw no horse get injured. I am sure it occasionally happens though. I would not compare this to the tripping of horses in Mexico.

    Yes, the bridle they use is severe and they use a whip a spurs. Yes, the horse feels pain but they have to work for a maximum of 10 seconds a week. In an ideal world no horse would feel pain. I was at a dressage show in Connecticut last summer and I saw several riders who had no business there. They should have been spending their money taking more lessons than wasting it on a show. They were pounding on the horse’s backs and their hands were awful. How long does that animal have to endure that? Just because they wear fancy outfits doesn’t mean cruelty isn’t going on. I have worked on and lived on QH, Morgan, Hunter/Jumper, and polo farms. I’ve seen the good and bad side and witnessed things I didn’t agree with. I’ve seen horses drugged and expected to play through the pain. I’ve seen them tied in their stalls with their heads forced to be high or low depending on the breed and discipline. I’ve been on farms without any place to turn a horse out because they are “show horses”. If their owner or trainer doesn’t ride that day they are in their stall 24 hours. In contrast the horses used for doma live naturally in field in a herd, six days a week. On Sunday they are taken to a field and have to buck for 10 seconds and then they get to go back to grazing. Argentina does have a high rate of horse slaughter. I’m sure if the horses stop doing their job, are continually lame, or get too old to breed or work they are brought to slaughter but so are show horses, brood mares, polo ponies, school horses, and race horses in the States. In a perfect world every horse would be taken care of until its natural end. We all know this is not the case. Many horses have a job and if they can no longer do it then they are sent to slaughter. I’m sorry this is how it is but it is what it is. In the end I think I would prefer to be a doma horse than many of the show horse boarded in a stable.

    Everyone has their own opinion though.


  4. dawndi Post author

    from anonymous:You did use the photos! I thought there may be some debate about it. I looked through the photographers albums and she a horse lover. Se attended WEG, and quite a lot of equestrian activities. I would find it hard to believe that she document something so cruel (as the info your reades suggest) and not comment about it on her photos. There were some questions posted with the photos about horses being hurt and she claimed none were. The only thing that bothered me was some of the horses had a type of war bridle on, wrapped around the lower jaw. That is harsh. But for all the supposed “whipping” and cutting of the stirrups not one of the horses looked like they were sweaty, foamy or bloody. The argentine version of our western calf roping does not involve a rope at all. Two cowboys run down the calf and sort of pinch it between their two horses and this suspends the calf off the ground. They say a well trained team can pick up a calf and move it to anywhere they want to move it to. This seems less cruel than roping it and yanking it back, or by twisting its head till it falls down. Mexican rodeos yank on the tails till they fall down. Now as an animal control officer I have seen mexican rodeos and horse tripping. That is very cruel. I’m working on closing a training barn down that pratices it. The trick has been to get in and get evidence. I got two months of nothing so far, but I will not give up. I try not to be biased, a Mexican rodeo is not the same as one in Argentina. Both peoples speak spanish, but they are not the same. If I saw anything cruel I would not have fowared them to you. Sorry if you got some heat because of this.

  5. Barbara

    I think its wrong to compare this event to Mexican rodeos. Argentine and Mexican cultures are worlds apart. It’s kinda like saying that everyone who has a gaited breed of horse trains it like the Big Lick tennessee walkers or even that every owner of a walker sores their horse. Animal welfare groups are very different, and each has their own agenda as to what they consider cruelity. Find out what animal group protests this activity before you make a judgement. I see from the photo a bronc riding event. The horses look healthy, none look injured (even with the comments of whipping and blade like stirrups) . I would imagine an event like this is not without injurys to both horse and rider. If the horse was injured beyond repair I would hope that it were euthanized or as Nancy puts it “slaughtered” Is this really anymore “cruel” than an American rodeo event where points are given for “spurring?” How about an equine sport where young horses are whipped daily and forced to run on a track before they mature, often breaking down in the process? Yet we can look at a photo of Affirmed, Alydar or Zenyetta on the track and see only beauty? The photos show the beauty and power of the horse, I do not see cruelity in them anymore than I see it in other equine sports.

  6. dawndi Post author

    From Nancy, a reader:
    I’m so sorry that I posted my comment twice! I’m clueless when it comes to posting, and wasn’t sure where to comment.

    I didn’t know about these rodeos, either, until five years ago. A good friend of mine is involved in feedlot rescue and adopted a mare that had somehow managed to survive the Summer tripping circuit. That poor mare (Cassie) never recovered psychologically from her experience. It’s so infuriating to me that WA State and the USDA turns a blind eye to these rodeos because of their cultural ties to the Latino community. If we have outlawed dog and cock fighting, why is this still going on?!

    Anyway, I’ll get off of my soap box. After knowing and loving Cassie and watching her struggle with her demons for five years (she passed away last year), I have become passionate about getting the word out about the sanctioned abuse going on under our noses.

  7. Ritambhara Tyson

    Is there no end to the cruelty issued onto these beautiful beings by this human animal that we are? So sad to see.

  8. Nancy Nowlin

    The horses are whipped into a frenzy prior to being released from the pole with the rider aboard. The rider continues to use the whip and kick the frightened/angry horse with the blade-shaped stirrups. When the horses are injured beyond repair, they are slaughtered. The calm horse was most likely one of the tame horses that are used to calm the bucking stock between rides. Here is one objective article about Argentinian rodeos. There are other websites published by animal welfare groups. Unfortunately, Argentinian bronc riding and Mexican horse tripping take place in WA State, and the few horses that survive the Summer circuit wind up in feedlots. A friend of mine rescued a former tripping horse from a feedlot, and the mare’s physical and psychological damage was heartbreaking.

  9. Kitty Bo

    My first response was, Good god! Were there any ambulances in the pictures? At our rodeos, there is always an ambulance waiting close by.

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