Bettina D´Alessandro, GPJ Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – Enrique Garialde, 67, approaches the gate of his ranch on the outskirts of Chacabuco, a city in Argentina’s Buenos Aires province, his espadrilles muddy from the effects of a recent rain. A black beret partly conceals the gaze of this man of few words, a man who has spent more than five decades taming horses.

“For someone who likes the countryside, a horse is the best thing that you can have,” he says.

The horse has a strong historical link with men in Argentina’s countryside. The horse has been key to the development of the nation’s rural areas, the economy of which is based on agriculture and livestock production.

The taming of a horse establishes a connection between the animal and its handler. Only after the taming does a horse’s owner decide whether to use it for ranch work and transportation or in equine shows that draw thousands of people to regional festivals. Community members form associations to celebrate the importance of the horse through festivals and other social activities.

Spanish conquistadors introduced the Criollo breed to Argentina in the 16th century, says Orlando Falco, the director of the Museo Criollo de los Corrales, a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the breed, in Buenos Aires, the nation’s capital. Since then, the breed has spread throughout the country.

Chacabuco and Bragado, another city in Buenos Aires province, show how communities devotedly preserve equine traditions in this photo essay.