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Horse Girl Goes Global

Cello Lockwood sends her final blog from Argentina which we will reprint in two issues: February and March.

Doma India: curso de caballos y la vida

In the past months I have been willingly swallowed by the pampas, happily swept off grid by these wild and welcoming gauchos. The second episode of my Argentine adventure began at a prominent Gaucho event in the Congresso in Buenos Aires. I had been invited to attend by Cristobal Scarpati, who I would be studying with. I stood on my tip toes in the packed assembly, peering over traditionally dressed gauchos and gauchas to the stage where I saw Adolfo Cambiaso (the polo player) was being recognized and then Oscar Scarpati (the father of Cristo). Oscar is famous in Argentina, and beyond, for his unique approach to taming horses. The Scarpatis are not working gauchos, but they are the heart of Argentine equine tradition. Every single gaucho in this country knows their name.

We spent the next day at a polo club where German filmmakers were shooting for a documentary on the Scarpatis. Oscar, Cristo, and Painé (Oscar’s second eldest son) worked with rebellious polo horses until they allowed the barefoot men to nimbly spring onto their backs and lie beneath their bellies. Even the professional polo players stopped practice to watch.

On Sunday we set off on a 10-hour road trip to the Scarpati homestead in the mountains of San Luis province (a desert region in the north-west corner of Argentina). My time with the Scarpatis unfurled like soft smoke from an asado: timeless, shapeless, fluid, transformative. Life exists in a separate dimension here. The day is formulated by presence, not by time. There is no Argentine translation for “what’s the plan?” Also, difficult to communicate is “when?”, “where?”, “with who?”. A full 180 from my earlier travels, I had zero agency in what we did during the day. During the first week I alternated between deep peace and pre-panic attacks. The complete lack of structure was like walking on the moo