2020 Horse Riding Endurance Race in Brazil – Compete with Gauchos!

Riding into the sunrise on a Criollo Horse in Brazil
The first ride of the day usually starts very early so the riders can enjoy some beautiful sunrises.

Imagine if you had the chance to race on horseback in the Naadam against the locals in Mongolia?

The “Marcha de Resistência” is one of the LONGEST endurance competitions in the world. It takes place every year for competitors in Brazil and a few of the South American nations. This endurance race is 750 kilometers long and takes place over 15 days during the winter. Gauchos compete on their highly trained Criollo horses in order to secure breeding rights for the horses that finish. 

Criollo horses with typical gaucho gear in a marcha resistencia competition
Up for the challenge.

For the FIRST TIME EVER we are offering the opportunity for international riders from around the world the chance to come to Brazil and ride a criollo horse in the traditional style. You will be up against the local gauchos in their most prized competition. 

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a tourist event or a riding holiday. This is a rare chance to ride in an ACTUAL endurance competition on a criollo horse which has been conditioned and prepared especially for this event. The Marcha race does not cover 750 kilometers worth of terrain. You will be riding out from the same venue in the village of Jaguarão each day and will be required to follow the rules and regulations according to the event. You must help prepare your own horse each day twice a day and accompany your horse in each stations vet check.

Vision:

Our vision is to offer top-quality horses which are well trained in endurance, and fit and able to complete the Marcha. We will provide the best horses to people who are interested in competing and qualify through our application procedure.

  • We want that the competing riders worries are to compete and to not have to focus or worry about anything else. That is why we have organized everything from arrival to departure. You only have to show up! (And ride 750 kilometers in a traditional gaucho saddle, of course.)
  • No other ultra-resistance equestrian competition offers the chance to compete in equal conditions with the locals.
  • We offer the opportunity of getting to mix into a unique local culture as one of the Gauchos, during your stay at the Brazil-Uruguay border. We can guarantee there will be plenty of Asado’s (Barbecues) and a party or two to celebrate! *You better be ready to eat a lot of meat!!!*
A guest rider during the marcha is riding a well-trained Criollo horse with light hands
Riding the well-trained Criollos is a true pleasure.

Values:

  • We aim to promote equestrian sports while adding value to local culture. Not many women can be seen riding and competing against men in Brazil. We hope that by opening up this race to international riders around the world we will give the local girls the encouragement, motivation and support to get in the saddle!
  • To compete with fair-play and put the animal welfare first. We LOVE our criollo horse breed. We’ve seen their capabilities and hope to share our love for our magnificent breed with the world!
  • Our Motto is the same in the Marcha as it is for any endurance competition: “To finish is to win.” You will not win any prize money (there are awards however should you place). This event is not meant to be won at the expense of others or our horses, but to revere and honor the amazing endurance capabilities of the horses!
Competitors in the Marcha riding along the road on their Criollo horses
The race takes place on public roads shared by the competitors, spectators and local traffic.

More Information About the Marcha:

The Marcha – “Marcha de Resistência” is a long-distance riding competition, held over 750km, divided into 15 days. Its main feature is that all animals stay, before the race starts, in a farm or “Estância” next to the competition venue, the so-called “concentration”. However, differently of what the name may make you think, the animals will spend this month loose, and eating only grass and drinking water. The aim is that all animals start the race in the most possible equality of conditions. The division of km/day and speed/pace is in the table (link). After each leg, animals pass through a vet-check, observing the same requirements of endurance competitions. According to the vet commission, the horse may be eliminated if it does not attend these criteria. 

Here we must warn, that unlike other long-distance races that exist, the difference of this is that you will be competing among, or against the locals. Marcha is considered not only a competition, for it is a breed selection test. 

A competitor is giving his Criollo horse water to keep it hydrated during a Marcha de la Resistencia in Brazil
The competitors are responsible to keep their horses hydrated and sound during the whole competition

The first Marcha was held in Uruguay in 1951. Supposedly, the Marcha mimics the long distances in all weather conditions that a working horse must endure in the Pampas. The idea goes back to 3 breeders, Júlio Leon, Eduardo Ibarra and Alberto Gallinal. Since the beginning each horse competing in the marcha covers 750km (approximately 466 miles) within a time frame of 15 days. In Brazil, the first 750km marcha was held in Alegrete, in 1991. The Brazilian Federation of Criollo Breeders (ABCCC) organizes all the competitions for Criollo horses in Brazil. Next to the national competitions, the International Federation of Criollo Breeders (FICCC) is hosting international championships (including a marcha) every 4 years in its member countries: Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay. Until now there were three FICCC Marchas held in Brazil: 1996, 2007 and 2019.

A marker for the 15km checkpoint in Marcha de la Resistencia in Brazilthe
A checkpoint during the race

The Criollo horse : The Criollo is a breed that has undergone a tough natural selection process for more than 400 years. It is an offspring of horses that were left in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina (more or less at the same time) by the Spanish and Portuguese settlers. Criollos are very tough and rustic horses, capable to remain all day under the saddle and working with cattle.

Flooding on the road during the marcha - the Criollo horses have to step through the flooded area
Heavy rain during the competition can create additional obstacles on the way

A famous adventure was made in the 1920’s by the swiss rider Aimé Tschiffely. He lent two criollos from Emilio Solanet and rode them from Buenos Aires to New York. You can read his adventures in his book, Tschiffely’s Ride.

Dates: 

May 21st, 2020 to June 7th, 2020

Arrival: May 21st Porto Alegre Airport

May 22nd Drive to Jaguarão

Marcha: May 23rd, 2020 – June 6th, 2020

Departure: June 7th

*Riders must arrive at least one day earlier (or May 22nd) in Jaguarão, because it´s the day they catch the horses, shoe them, etc., so is when you get to know your horse. You will NOT be allowed to ride your horse before the start of the race as per the rules of this competition. Every competitor must ride their horse for the first time after the horse’s rest at the start line. 

Location:

It will be held in Jaguarão, a historical city that is the Marcha´s cradle. 

Riders are going both directions on the road close to a turning point
Riders meeting each other close to a turning point.

Limited Entries:

We will be offering, for our first year of operation, only FIVE horses to international competitors. This is because we want to offer you a real chance to finish and possibly placing in the top and winning an award! We are providing OUR personal competing horses, so we trust that they will take you to the finish. In the future, we aim to have more horses to offer, but that means investment in training and finding the talented animals. 

Training the Horses / Preparing for the Marcha:

The horses which typically compete in the Marcha are not young. They are mostly mares which have been racing in endurance competitions for years and years. Breeders select only top quality horses and train them for competitions so they can secure breeding rights for their mares. Because of this, many of the riders do not want to risk their horses welfare and are aiming mainly to finish. However, there will be plenty of competitors looking for the win. 

heavy rain during the competition tests riders and gear
Heavy rain challenges the riders and their gear

This means that prior to the horse’s “concentration” (or rest period leading up to the Marcha) a LOT of training, fitness and work goes into the horse to build their stamina and condition before the race. These horses are VERY well trained. They are ridden with long reins and neck rein. They are used to being ridden every day on the estancias and the gauchos essentially LIVE IN THE SADDLE. 

You will have a horse which is comfortable to ride and is bred, trained and conditioned to finish an event of this magnitude. Having said that, we cannot guarantee a finish, as with any sport or physical activity there is always a risk. If your horse get’s injured and does not pass the vet examination, you will be eliminated. 

Hot Showers, Good Food & Icy Hot Patches

This race is not about speed! There are only a few stages which are speed based. Instead, you have set times and paces for your horse each day which you must meet. The first week is set with very comfortable paces so you have time to get to know your horse and the team while having fun attempting to sign language and chat with the locals while on horseback! 

Although it is a stamina test for the riders, you will be in a hotel and have access to a hot shower at the end of each day. You will also eat DELICIOUS food on a daily basis and have time in the afternoons for a short siesta if you choose. And not to mention your crew members will happily carry all of your handy pain killers, icy hot patches (or booze if you prefer!) at the start and finish of each days ride. You will also get used to drinking the hot mate drink (a traditional tea) which is passed around and shared to help keep you warm and give you a little caffeine boost!

Interested Applicants Requirements:

  • You MUST be an experienced rider and in good physical condition to be able to compete in this event. 
  • As we have LIMITED SPACES we can ONLY accept the best applicants. Please include a description of yourself in your application and why you think you are the best person for this experience. We will contact you after receiving all applications to begin the interview process. 
  • All applications are due by December 15th, 2019
  • Please email us a PDF document with your details attached. (Form Below)

Name/surname:

Address:

Email:

Phone:

Age:

Weight (kg): (DISCLAIMER: The minimum weight for the rider and tack is 95kg, so this information is MANDATORY. You will be asked to be weighed with all your riding gear at the start and finish of the race and we need your EXACT weight in order to help you in advance with adequate extra weight if needed.)

Height:

Riding experience: 

Picture of you riding:

Short Description of Why You Should Be Chosen for this Event: 

Which horse, if any, on our team do you prefer: (Horse Info Below)

Crewing for the Event: (Non-Riding Option)

Not sure you want to be the guinea pig of our first year? Or you came in too late and all the horses are booked? You can come and crew for us! Get the flavor of the Marcha without all the suffering! Although you will be helping riders with preparing their horses, we will have local crew members on site to help you and teach you how to do things “like a gaucho.”

Included:

  • Transfer from Porto Alegre to Jaguarão and back
  • Accommodation in Jaguarão
  • Meals (some of it is provided by the Marcha commission) and drinks, except alcoholic.
  • Horse: The costs include the training, shoeing, vetting, and transportation of your horse to and from the competition. It also includes the cost of your groom and jockey who is in charge of getting your horse fit for the competition.
  • Horse Tack: All saddles and equipment for the horse will be provided (brushes, hoof pick, bridle, traditional saddle, sheepskin, etc.)
  • Race entry (the Criollo association provides the vets and stewards since this is an official breed event).
  • Crew – although we are offering opportunity for people to come and crew for our team, there will be a local crew to assist you and help show you and your international crew members the correct way of preparing your horse in the traditional tack.
  • Driver and interpreter throughout the event. The majority of the competitors and staff of the Marcha DO NOT speak English. (Portuguese is the main language, however sometimes Spanish is also understood.) Because of this we will provide a translator to help you when you feel like sign language just isn’t enough!

NOT Included:

  • Flights to and from Porto Alegre
  • Visa (many countries do not need a visa for Brazil, if you are staying less than 3 months)
  • Insurance
  • Accommodation in Porto Alegre or any of the main flight hubs (São Paulo and Rio), if needed. 
  • Other Personal Equipment – You do not need a GPS, since you leave and arrive at the same place every day. A cardio (Garmin, Polar or similar) is recommended so you can easily stick to the pace of the controlled speed loops. 
  • Clothing – Please assess weather forecast before you embark. In late May-beginning of June, it is cold. It is wintertime in Brazil so you need to bring a good coat and a raincoat. You can always go shopping for the gaucho clothing and buy a poncho, during your stay. As a foreign competitor, you do not need to use the gaucho outfit to compete, but we can be your “personal stylists” if you want to.

Meet the Horses:

Buena Sorte 

Buena Sorte is an 8 year old mare and already has a big acheivement: she finished the da FICCC Marcha (International Federation of Criollo Breeders), in 9th place, in 2019. It was her first Marcha and she was in the top ten even though she was merely meant to be the replacement for another horse who unfortunately couldn’t compete. She was placed in 30km endurance rides in 2016, and, in 2017, she won the 30km championship. She is a real “working class girl” of endurance, with nice gaits and bombproof temperament. We expect Buena Sorte to deliver a good result to her lucky rider! Now in training for FEI qualifying endurance competitions, but she is also in training for the Marcha.

A Criollo horse ready to compete in a Brazilian endurance race: the marcha
Adriana and Buena Sorte

Boemia 

Boemia was only in a few endurance competition rides, because before she was bought by Paranoia Team, she worked on a farm. However, this is the sort of training many Marcha horses will do. Back then, she had run only a 50km race. She has smooth gaits and an excellent temperament, and was then tested in two endurance rides (40km and 30km). She is in training for the Marcha because we believe in her potential. Don’t be fooled by her sweet looks, she has determination and an iron will, essential in an animal for the Marcha. 

Criollo mare Boemia - side
Criollo mare Boemia - front

Ferrari 

Ever dreamed of being on board a Ferrari??? Your time has come! But this one runs on 4-legs instead of wheels. She has the speed, energy and comfort of the vehicle, add to this the sheer stamina and power, and off you go! Not forgetting to mention that this one has the spice, so if you like forward horses, this is your horse! She has also an impeccable bloodline of endurance champions: her mother never lost in a row of ten 80km competitions. We believe that in the Marcha she won´t disappoint you. If you’re in it to win it, Ferrari is your girl. 

Criollo mare Ferrari - side
Criollo mare Ferrari - front

Pioneiro

Pioneiro is a 5-year-old gelding. Our boy among the girls! In spite of the sport being dominated by the females, he isn’t behind them in any feature you choose: endurance, comfort, temperament. In fact even little kids could ride him, but endurance surely runs in his veins; he will represent accordingly the famous bloodline Cinco Salsos.

Criollo gelding Pioneiro - side
Criollo gelding Pioneiro - front

*We are still looking for our last horse to add to our team, we will let you know soon!

Meet the Paranoia Team

Members of Team Paranoia mounted on Criollo horses
Team Paranoia

Adriana Pires Neves

Adriana is a veterinarian, university professor and researcher in the field of equine reproduction. She has been addicted to endurance since 2014. So far, she has raced distances of 20km to 60km in three states of Brazil, always being placed. She completed her first Marcha in Aceguá (2018), arriving 18th among 64 competitors, with her Paranoia; in 2019, at the FICCC Marcha, was 9th with Buena Sorte. Notice that in both occasions the animals were running their first Marchas! Both rides were shared with her former trainer who shared the horse with her during the event. She is the founder of Paranoia Team and has the will to introduce the Marcha in the international long-distance race scene.

Rogerio Kummer (Lelo)

Lelo is a farm administrator who has a long history in the Criollo endurance scene. He started his career back in 2005, winning all categories championships (30, 50 and 80km). Later on, as a breeder, ha had the same success, breeding horses that won all the categories, and also Buena Sorte and Paranoia (in memoriam), two finalists of the Marcha. His stud was chosen as “Cabanha do Ano” (best breeder of year) in 2012. He is also a great mentor and trainer, fostering many young people into the sport, including his three sons (and, more recently, Adriana). 

Henrique Kummer

Henrique is 19-years-old, and very talented. He started in endurance at 6, winning his first title at 7, in the Criollo endurance category for kids. At 11, he was already 4 times champion in the category 30A (the Marcha for kids). In total he was on the podium more than 50 times! He is our trainer for the horses, the one in charge of keeping the horses fit and ready for the big day!

Price for the 2020 Event:

Competitor:

$450 Deposit required when/if your application is accepted

$3550 Due by January 15th, 2020

$4000 Due by March 15th, 2020

Total Cost: $8,000 USD

Horse Share:

In the event that two riders are happy to share one horse and thereby compete in only half of the race, a horse share is possible. It is up to the two riders sharing the horse to divide the riding sections based on their own preference and fitness levels and is not up to the responsibility of the organizers. This means that at any time you can choose to sit out while your teammate rides that leg. Locals competing in the Marcha can also have a horse share so you will most likely not be the only competitors in the event on a horse share basis. 

$450 Deposit

$1550 Due by January 15th, 2020

$2000 Due by March 15th, 2020

*As there are limited number of horses, horse share will only be offered in the event that there is a free horse available from Full Competitors and that another Horse Share participant is on the wait list.

Crew Member: (Non-Rider)

$450 Deposit

$550 Due by January 15th, 2020

$1000 Due by March 15th, 2020

Total Cost: $2,000

Requirements:

  • Must bring your own riding gear, however we can take you to a local shop in Brazil to purchase any local riding gear you might wish to wear. (Ponchos, bombachas (riding pants), rain ponchos etc.) 
  • Remember that it is WINTER in Brazil during the event! Bring WARM CLOTHES!!! 
  • Although a helmet is not required, we recommend you wear one, however it is at rider’s own risk. 

Reminder: All applications are due by December 15th, 2019. Please email your entry to Krystal at: krystal@equestrianadventuress.com

We will notify you after all applications have been accepted and begin the interview process in December. Deposits for accepted entries must be paid upon acceptance or your place will be filled to the next selected applicant on the waiting list.

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