The Gaucho Derby Academy

The Gaucho Derby Academy

The Gaucho Derby Academy is a multi-day immersive and educational experience which trains equestrians to be able to tackle our 500km Gaucho Derby. Throughout the span of six days, riders will learn the culture and lifestyle of the Gauchos of Patagonia. They will put their horsemanship skills to the test while tackling some of the toughest terrain on the planet and clearing the vet checks along the way.

Then you’ll spend days working with the gauchos as the round up some of the wild horses.

Our team of international event managers, local Gauchos, equine experts, medics and veterinarians will lead the experiences on navigation, riding the gnarly terrain, wilderness survival and managing horse health throughout this adventure. Once you’ve graduated you’ll be confident in your skillset to tackle the beast that is The Gaucho Derby. The following is the itinerary for this special academy brought to you by the team at The Equestrianists.

Join The Academy


1. Overview

  • When:

    17th to the 23rd of Feb 2022

  • Where:

    Santa Cruz, Argentina (We'll take you to the location from El Calafate)

  • What:

    - Handling the mighty Patagonian horse.
    - Riding the harsh terrain of Patagonia.
    - Changing horses efficiently at horse stations.
    - Camping out and hobbling your horse in the wild.
    - Navigating using a Garmin GPS on horseback.
    - Testing your personal equipment and having feedback on how to best pack for the race.
    - Gaucho Culture - learn the etiquette and horsemanship of the Gaucho.
    - Drinking lots of wonderful Malbec
    - Derby medics will be on hand to look after you and vets will be on hand to tend to the horses.

  • Cost:


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2. Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - El Calafate

Intro briefings

Covering off what will go on over the coming days plus intros to the tech we use. Familiarising, pairing & using the various devices for safety and navigation as well as introductions to navigating in Patagonia. We’ll also have a look over your gear and cover off any final admin.

Gaucho Tack Truck Shop

Miguel is our resident tack guru and mobile tack shop. He supplies all the Gaucho's with their gear, tack and clothing needs. Have your pesos ready for a true Gaucho shopping experience.

Day 2 - La Perseverancia

Travel out to the estancia and team introductions

It’s a 6am departure because it’s a long old trip into the wilderness. Following a lunch stop we’ll be at the Estancia early afternoon to meet the gauchos and instructors who will be covering off all the topics for the academy.

First ride out

Once we’ve all said hello we’ll saddle up and get out for a quick intro ride.

Dinner, fire and malbec

The dream combination for a Patagonian evening. Sergio the Estancia owner will be speaking about the area, the history of the first pioneers of this land and his family being stewards of the land and their horses.

Day 3

Horses & Veterinary Briefing

The day kicks off with briefings on all things horse and veterinary. Covering off vet checks, efficient horse change overs, camping with horses and the rules regarding welfare on the Derby race this should bring you right up to speed.

Navigation, Tech & Gear Briefing

Revisiting the introduction lessons from the first lesson with much more time to run through essential gear, clothing and survival kit. Getting all the kit set up to use in the navigation ride for the afternoon.

Navigation Ride

You’ll tack up, receive coordinates and test navigate out to where the vets and Gauchos will be waiting. They will put their horses through the vet check, clear it and ride to the next checkpoint. Eventually arriving back at the Estancia after traversing all manner of terrain.

Day 4

Medical Briefing

Led by our experienced medics we’ll cover off the most common medical issues likely to occur during the Derby and what you can do to avoid them.

Wilderness survival & Gear Briefing

Covering everything from risk assessment & awareness to what’s going on with the weather and how to make good decisions in extreme situations. As well as a specific look at the challenges presented by this particular landscape and how the Gauchos manage themselves in this environment.

Wilderness overnight ride

Splitting into groups you’ll be riding out to various coordinates around the wilderness to test out what we’ve been discussing as you camp out overnight with your horse. We’ll be meeting up with the gauchos as we come into the area where the wild horses need to be found.

Day 5

Wild Horse Search Party

Our vet will lead you through checking your horse's health after a night of camping out before teaming up with the gauchos on a mission to find the scattered wild horse herds of these mountains. Once found, you’ll all start to push them towards the flatter lands close to the estancia.

Day 6

Wild Horse Roundup

Today you’ll be joining the ranks of the gauchos on a mission to ride out around 30kms rounding up the wild horse herds you moved yesterday. The herds need to be brought all the way into the corrals at camp in the coming days. As you have found out, the terrain is gnarly, the horses are wild and you’ll use the skills you’ve learned throughout this academy in full force today as you gallop across the land responsible for holding your own as we herd 150+ wild horses into camp.

The Party Commences

Now kick back and let the libations begin.

Day 7

Heading back to El Calafate

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