A huaso is a Chilean countryman and skilled horseman, similar to the American cowboy or Mexican charro, the gaucho of Argentina, Uruguay and Rio Grande Do Sul and the Australian stockman. A female huaso is called a huasa, although the term china is far more commonly used for his wife or sweetheart, whose dress can be seen in cueca dancing. Huasos are found all over Central and Southern Chile while the Magallanes Region sheep raisers are gauchos. The major difference between the huaso and the gaucho is that huasos are involved in farming as well as cattle herding.
Huasos (plural) are generally found in Chile's central valley. They ride horses and typically wear a straw hat called a chupalla. They also wear a poncho—called a manta or a chamanto (although this was originally reserved to land owners, as it is much more expensive)—over a short Andalusian waist jacket, as well as tooled leather legging over booties with raw hide leather spur holders that sustain a long-shanked spur with 4-inch rowels, and many other typical garments.
Huasos are an important part of Chilean folkloric culture and are a vital part of parades, fiestas, holidays, and popular music. The dancing of the cueca in which the coy china is courted by the persistent huaso, both traditionally attired, is de rigueur on such occasions.
In Chile, the term huaso or ahuasado (in a huaso way) is also used disparagingly to refer to people without manners or lacking the sophistication of an urbanite, akin to a redneck.
Huaso (1933 - August 24, 1961) was the horse that, ridden by Chilean Captain Alberto Larraguibel, set the high-jump world record on February 5, 1949, by jumping in Viña del Mar, Chile, one of the longest-running unbroken sport records in history (66 years)
Huaso was born in Chile in 1933, and was originally named Faithful. He stood . He started as a race horse, but never managed good results because he was too nervy and unruly. After six years of total failure, the horse was purchased by Chilean Army captain Gaspar Lueje, in the early 1940s, who thought he could be trained for Dressage. When Faithful was just starting his training he suffered an accident, impaling himself on the back quarter, and almost having to be put down. The horse eventually recovered, but acquired a slight limp in the left hind, which effectively put an end to any chances in that discipline.
As a last option he was moved to show jumping. Faithful still retained his potency, but nonetheless, he was still too nervy and difficult to control, and he wasn't showing any promise in jumping. One afternoon, while he was being trained riderless on the enclosure, he simply bolted and jumped over the surrounding wall, which was over 2 meters high. Casually, he was spotted by an Army horse master who happened to pass by, and who right away decided to purchase and destine him for high-jump.
The horse was then taken to the Army Cavalry Academy, in the city of Quillota. There, the name was changed to Huaso and he was handed to Captain Alberto Larraguibel for training. He trained the horse for over two years specifically for the world record. He first targeted the national record, then the South-American and finally, the world one. On February 5, 1949, both rider and horse were finally ready. The attempts were held at the Coraceros Regiment in Viña del Mar, Chile. On the words of Captain Larraguibel:
When they broke the world record Huaso was already 16 years old, quite old for a result of that magnitude. After the record, the horse was retired and never ridden again. He roamed freely until he died naturally on August 24, 1961, at the age of 29. Huaso is buried on the same Cavalry Academy where he spent his last years.
Larraguibel & Huaso's commemorative monument in Vina del Mar is an impressive statue : a nude woman -Faith?- supports the leaping Horse. The commemorative plate reads As for me it was like sending my heart flying over the other side of the jump and then going to rescue it. (Larraguibel)
The High Jump world record should not be confused with the Puissance world record. The Puissance is a series of bricks built as a wall rather than angled poles as used in the high jump. The word 'Puissance' means 'power' in French. The current indoor Puissance world record stands at and was set in June 1991 in Chaudfontaine, Belgium by German rider Franke Sloothaak on Optiebeurs Golo, breaking his previous record set on Leonardo.