Colombian cowboys are known as llanerosSpanish for the plains.

Carlos Saavedra


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Carlos Saavedra

Colombian cowboys are known as llanerosSpanish for the plains.

Carlos Saavedra

Eastern Plains, Colombia – Driving on their horses, half a dozen Colombians on a ranch drive cattle across pancakes to the prairies of Eastern Colombia. They have a long way to go because this 4,000-acre ranch stretches to the horizon and beyond.

Unlike the United States, where almost all cattle are fattened on fattening grounds and where cowboys are mostly left in the past, the animal in Colombia is raised on broad open shoulder straps. As a result, herding supervision requires special skills from Colombian cowboys known as llaneros – in Spanish “plain inhabitants”.

With its lagoons, flocks of birds and panoramic views, this ranch is a great place to work, which is often tough.

The cows are in a pen on a ranch in Kazanar, Colombia, awaiting artificial insemination.

Carlos Saavedra


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Returning to the corral, at llaneros pull the cattle to the ground, immobilize it, then press a few hot climbers into their skins to identify their owner and the ranch where they are raised. At one point they noticed a stray bull. That she did not disturb the herd and did not fertilize the cows, one of the c llaneros takes out a knife and quickly castrates a bull that roars in protest.

Also surprising is the fact that most – instead of wearing cowboy boots llaneros walk barefoot. Among them is Antonio Cova, who has been working on the ranch since he was 13 and says his bare feet are leathery like animal paws.

“It’s a tradition,” he explains. “You have calluses on your feet, so they don’t hurt.”

Llaneras use hot climbing irons to mark the cattle to identify them and the ranch to which they belong.

Carlos Saavedra


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Llaneras for centuries have proven their strength. Experienced horsemen and archers, they fought alongside South American liberator Simon Bolivar in the early 1800s to help secure Colombia’s independence from Spain.

In fact some llaneros – like Antonio Cantar – still walking around with guns. Pulling a pistol from his holster, he says, “The revolver was a regular part of your wardrobe.”

These days, llaneros remain key to Colombia’s livestock industry. Most breeders here cannot afford to send their herds for large commercial fattening. However, pastures in remote areas of Colombia are relatively cheap.

Llaneras to drive cattle to a corral in Kazanar, Colombia.

Carlos Saavedra


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Abelardo Bravo, a businessman from Bogota who bought the ranch 13 years ago, says he could not run it without his confidant llaneros.

“These are courageous people,” he says. “A llanero do not back down from anything. He may weigh 150 pounds, but he will take on a 900-pound bull. ”

However, llanero life is not all muscles and machismo.

While milking the cows until dawn, one of the c llaneros quietly sings to make the animals relax and give more milk. Indeed, llaneros have their own genre of music and quickly break into the song. Kantar, pistol packing llanerooften plays the little four-string guitar known as the cuatro, and sings songs about the joys of horseback riding, livestock, and courtship to local ladies.

Many ranch owners in Kazanar still walk around with armed pistols.

Carlos Saavedra


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Yet he sometimes wonders whether llanero traditions continue. The ranch is gradually getting smaller as they are passed on to families and now they require fewer workers. Some llaneros take lighter jobs in cities or on nearby rice farms and oil fields.

But after nearly 70 years of raising cattle in the countryside, Cantor says it is not moving.

“This is where I was born and raised,” he says. “Here I am getting old. And here I want to die. “

These are horses llaneros use to catch cattle.

Carlos Saavedra


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After slaughter the cow is fed llanerosthe skin is dried and cut to make a leather rope.

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Llaneras subdue one of the cattle so that it can be branded.

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Left: A cattle waiting in a gutter to be vaccinated and tested for disease. Right: A lot llaneros prefer to work barefoot. They say they are used to it, and the calluses on their feet protect.

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A vet on a ranch in Kazanar is watching the cattle.

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Llaneras often sing when milking cows to relax animals so they give more milk.

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For breakfast, farmers eat soup from rumen and beef.

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Antonio Cantar, packing for pistols llaneroplays the four-string guitar known as the cuatro, and sings songs about the joys of horseback riding, herding animals and courting local women.

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The ranch is also home to a herd of water buffalo.

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A llanero lasso cow.

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The cowboy tries to subdue the cow so that she can be branded.

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Cattle sometimes die from snake bites, leaving their carcasses in the hot sun.

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A llanero saddles to graze cattle.

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Livestock breeders cut the tail and mane of a pony.

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A llanero ropes a stubborn cow who refuses to follow the rest of the herd.

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