Jan 23rd to 30th 2024
Jan 22nd to 29th 2025
The Gaucho Derby is one of the world’s toughest horse races. This Academy is your gateway to the start line.
During a packed week in the Patagonian Wilderness you’ll tackle a navigation ride, a race day simulation and overnight wilderness ride, then team up with the local Gauchos to find and round up 150+ wild horses.
Our team of international race managers, medics, vets and Gauchos will teach you a bespoke set of skills while you train on horseback in the world’s most spectacular classroom. Evenings are spent at the Estancia around the fire drinking Malbec learning about the culture and history of this incredible region.
If you’re already signed up, thinking about taking on the Gaucho or Mongol Derby or just curious, this is the perfect introduction to The Equestrianists World Series.
2. Who is the Academy for?
Wondering if you're ready to take on the race?For some it will be the perfect test to find out if an Equestrianists Derby is for you. For those who successfully complete the Academy, you will be offered a place in a future Derby edition.
Prepping for a future race?For riders lining up to tackle a future Derby the training camp is a great way to build confidence and experience for the race to come. There is nothing quite like it for testing your skills, equipment and stamina ahead of taking on one of the toughest horse races on the planet.
Just curious?Many people might just want to experience a flavour of the races without ever tackling a full blown beast. Well, this could be a great way to dive into the world of equestrian adventure racing without having to prep for the main race.
3. What's included?
- Expert training following the Gaucho Derby Academy syllabus to immerse you into the world of the longest and toughest horse races on the planet.
- "Classroom" time to learn about navigation, local riding technique, medical and veterinary protocols. As far as possible these are practical horseback experiences.
- A variety of Argentine horses, plus all tack and Gaucho Derby custom design saddles.
- A personal satellite tracking device for tracking you during training rides (including an emergency SOS function) to help get you accustomed to the tech used on the race.
- Equine vets on hand helping with training and ensuring horse welfare.
- Expert wilderness medic on site for emergencies and to help with training.
- One night of accommodation in El Calafate on the first night.
- Transfers to and from to the Academy camp.
- Accommodation at the Academy camp in shared tents.
- All meals, soft drinks and some alcoholic drinks.
4. The Schedule
Drinks and Gaucho Shopping Trip
You'll settle into El Calafate the night before the Academy begins, for a night in a hotel on us. We'll organise some welcome drinks to get to know each other, and we'll also swing by the local gaucho tack shop for a bit of retail therapy.
Day 1 - El Calafate / The Estancia
Travel out to the Estancia and team introductions
We will meet in El Calafate, start our introductions and distribute your tech devices used during the Gaucho Derby and the Academy, which we’ll go over on the bus ride. We’ll do a high-level introduction to navigating in Patagonia and help you familiarise yourself with ‘pairing’ and using the various devices for safety and navigation.
It's a long ride out to the Estancia, where we arrive in the afternoon.
Unload, Unpack and Opening Night Dinner
You will meet Sergio (your host and the owner of Estancia La Perseverancia) and his son Brian. After introductions, Sergio will lead us on an estancia tour after which you will have a chance to settle into your quarters before dinner.
Day 2 - The Estancia
Tack Distribution, Meet the Horses and Test Ride
Straight down to business today: you’ll be given your tack, and then meet your first horse for your first test ride. You will meet the gauchos, highly skilled horsemen who know the 40,000 acres of La Perseverancia like the back of their hands. They will lead you on tacking up the horses the gaucho way, as well as a hands-on tutorial on how to hobble and tie your horse during a campout, and you'll get a briefing from master farrier Stevie.
Second Test Ride
After lunch at the Blue Estancia House, you will be split into two groups for your afternoon ride. Each group will have a different destination to navigate to, using the skills you have practised in the morning. The crew will trail behind you here, to keep an eye on you while you test yourselves.
The lifestyle of the gaucho will be explored around the campfire. Sergio will speak about the area, the history of the first pioneers of this land and share stories about his family who have been stewards of the land and horses for generations.
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 itself.
Navigation, Tech & Gear Briefing
Revisiting the introductory lessons from the first day with much more time to run through essential gear, clothing and survival kit, you will get all the kit set up to use in the navigation ride for the afternoon.
After lunch, you will tack up, receive location coordinates and independently navigate to ride to where the vets and gauchos will be waiting. You will put your horse through the vet check, clear it and ride to the next checkpoint, eventually arriving back at La Perseverancia. The terrain will change for each leg and you will experience mountains, bogs and more.
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 Awareness, Survival & Gear Briefing
We'll lead briefings covering everything from risk assessment and 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, the gauchos will teach you how they manage themselves in this environment.
Rider and Pack Weigh-In
After lunch, we will weigh you and your gear to check that you meet the Rider and Pack Weight Limits. This will be a chance to check how you weigh-in, and shuffle some gear around if need be. Come dressed to ride, and with all your gear in your saddle bags so you can check both your Rider Weight and Pack Weight.
Wilderness Overnight Ride
Once you have weighed-in with your gear, you will pack up your camping kit, saddle up, enter coordinates into your GPS unit and ride to a remote location where you will be spending the night.
The gauchos and our crew will be waiting for you at the overnight campsite, near the wild horses that you will go in search of tomorrow and herd towards checkpoints near the Estancia.
Enjoy the night of storytelling and camping out with the gauchos and your fine steeds. Tomorrow, the gaucho work begins.
Horse Search Party
Our vet will lead you through checking your horse's health after a night of camping out before you team 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.
You’ll be camping out in the wilds tonight, with no shelter other than your tent and gear. This is your chance to really test yourself and your kit: set up camp, get your horse settled and reflect on your day. We'll close out the day with a debrief with the gauchos and running through the plan for tomorrow.
Today you’ll be joining the ranks of the gauchos on a mission to ride out around 30kms rounding up the herds of wild horses 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.
Heading back to El Calafate