The Brazilian gaucho living in Uruguay 


Have you ever been struck by how surprisingly small the world can seem? Whether it’s through traveling or other life experiences, the connections we stumble upon often surprise us. For us, spending years traveling around South America, focusing on the horse culture, constantly reminds us of this fact. And this is exactly how we crossed paths with Glenio Antonio! 

Horse ears watching over green plains during golden hour with horse and gaucho gathering sheep in the background
Stine herding the sheep

During our spontaneous adventure in Patagonia with Rodrigo, a Brazilian farrier we traveled and made great friends with, he spoke highly of a gaucho friend of his who lives in Uruguay and would be able to tell us amazing stories and teach us many things. Before we even knew, he had already reached out and arranged our stay with Glenio!

Truth be told, there are few things that surprise or unsettle us when it comes to traveling to unfamiliar destinations, but this time we literally knew nothing about the place we would end up at, the person we would be with (aside from Rodrigo's recommendation) or what we would be doing. But that’s precisely what made this even more fun!

Two men rescuing a cow stuck in a tree
Quintana and Glenio helping a bull get free from a tree he got stuck in

A long journey to the house

After a long journey that took us from Buenos Aires to the north of Uruguay, we sat waiting at the bus station, wondering who would pick us up - and since we arrived very early in the morning and weren’t picked up until late afternoon, we had plenty of time to do so. 

Just as two sleepless nights got the better of us, and we dozed off in front of the bus station, we were picked up by Glenio! After a few errands he had to run, we started the drive to his farm, about an hour away from the city. He had mentioned to us that he lives in a small house and wasn’t sure if it would be comfortable for us to stay there. So when we saw our own room with a bed, any worries about sleeping on the floor in a shed disappeared. He also showed us his impressive collection of stirrups and mate (and apparently knives that are kept safely somewhere), and some of his beautiful tack he stores at home. 

Man cooking in the kitchen and a horse watching through the window
Nelson cooking and one of the horses peeping in

The gaucho and his farms

At the moment, Glenio owns two other properties, not too far away from his home, where he keeps his animals. Currently, he has about 60 horses, 70 young cows (bulls) and 2000 sheep, spread across roughly 1200 hectares of land.

Cowboys herding sheep over hills on a clear day
Herding the sheep to the corral to check them

Originally from Brazil, Glenio moved to Uruguay about 30 years ago. His parents who moved to Uruguay around 15 years before he did, sold their estancia in Brazil to purchase a quiet place in Uruguay, close to where Glenio lives now. He is the 7th generation in his family to work with animals for a living. 

Horses and riders watching foals in a big green field
Glenio showing us his foals from this year and last year

At the age of 18, he began taming and working with horses full time and had his own herd of horses that started out with three horses his grandmother gave him as a present. After 25 years of having this herd, he sold all of them apart from the 12 horses that he brought to Uruguay when he moved. He has fully dedicated himself to the life of a Gaucho, investing in livestock and continuing his family’s tradition.

Cowboys working with cattle in a corral
Work with the bulls in the corral

One of his properties is about a 15-minute drive from his house, and it’s where he keeps some of his animals. When we arrived, we jumped on our horses and Glenio showed us his property and animals. He has beautiful horses, both purebred criollos and mixed breeds, and a secret passion for donkeys! The horses were an absolute joy to ride - what else is to be expected from someone who has been training horses for over 50 years!

Donkeys at sunset in a green field eating grass
A handful of the donkeys grazing outside our house

Buying livestock at the market

In the car, Glenio mentioned the upcoming animal market that would be happening just an hour away later that week. He asked us if we wanted to go to see it, and since Stine is always on the hunt for a good-looking Gaucho with money, we jumped at the opportunity (sarcasm alert). Before leaving for the market, we were trying to convince him to buy a sheep or 50 - what’s another 50 to a herd of 2000 - but we weren’t persuasive enough. So, we went, looking forward to watching cute animals, and after two hours of sitting on a bench watching the animals come and go, we started getting a little bored. To our surprise, Glenio raised his hand and joined in on the bidding. However, not for sheep, but for cows. And just like that, we went home with 34 cows and a lot of work for the following days. Talk about an unexpected shopping trip!

Gauchos walking by pens with cattle in on a sunny day
At the market

When we headed back home from the market, Glenio filled us in on our next project: branding all the new cattle. Fun fact, his branding symbol is a glass of wine! And turns out, 34 is his lucky number, since shortly before we arrived, he had bought another lot of exactly 34 cows. His plan was to let the new lot rest for a week before we would brand them, and meanwhile start on the lot that had already spent over a week at his place. 

SHeep and horses in a corral and crush
Sheep and horses waiting to be treated

Branding cattle

Neither of us had branded animals before, so it was a new experience. The branding irons were heated in the fire next to the pen, and the cows were branded one by one. Stine’s job was to put the cows in the little stall where they would be branded. At one point, Glenio told her to quickly get the branding iron from the fire and tried convincing her to brand the cow herself, but the thought of pressing a hot iron onto the cow’s skin raised some panic in her and with a nervous squeak, she rapidly handed the iron back over to him. So, this time we happily let the men handle the task and took our seats in the audience.

Bull getting branded by a gaucho
The new bulls being branded

Riding the horses to the gaucho's other farm

After a couple of days, his worker Nelson and us took our horses and rode from the first property to the second one that Glenio owns, which is about a three-hour ride (if you trot all the way, as we found out). We didn't expect much, so our jaws dropped when we saw this stunning place! It’s a large property with a beautiful house and garden surrounding it. After the three-hour ride, we had lunch. Nelson prepared Guiso, a traditional Uruguayan dish that we were already familiar with from our previous stay in the country a while back.

SHeep in a corral on a sunny day

Checking on all the animals' health

A significant issue at the time were animals suffering from parasites, particularly flies laying eggs in sheep, leading to the sheep being infested by larvae. Especially at Glenio’s first property, this was a big problem, since the land itself is quite humid. 

For this reason, one of our tasks consisted of checking that all the animals (sheep, donkeys, cows and horses) are healthy. In order to be able to check the 700 sheep, we herded all of them to the corral. Given the long ride, our horses were a little tired and we swapped them for some horses that live at the property. When Hannah chose one of the mares she liked, Nelson was a little skeptical at first. Turns out the horse was tame, it simply had never been ridden by a woman before, which made us smile. This gives a glimpse into the mindset of a Gaucho. It also took us three days to convince the guys we are capable of saddling our own horses. When riding, there was an unspoken rule that the men would always ride in front and open the gates for us. Needless to say, it was not meant in a discriminating way, it simply was a gesture of their courtesy and respect toward us. 

Gaucho and his brown dog in a field of green grass
Glenio and one of his 4 dogs

Not only did our stay with Glenio include fun rides, pulling larvae out of sheep and watching the fish jump in the river on our way to the campo, he also taught us how to properly throw a lasso and Hannah got to shoot a gun for the first time in her life! There certainly was nothing that Glenio wouldn’t teach us and our stay with him was a once in a lifetime experience.

Gaucho teaching girl to aim with the riffle on a farm
Glenio teaching Hannah to aim with the riffle

When we sat down to talk about some of the questions for this blog post, he asked what we wanted to know. We asked if there was anything he would like to tell us and he replied there was one thing he would like us to know, and he said this ‘El caballo me trajo toda mi vida, toda mi felicidad’ (‘The horse brought me my whole life, all my happiness’). Horses have always been his passion, the thing that’s driven him to become the great (horse)man he is. 

Gaucho doing farrier work on young black horse
The younger horse had been broken in but was missing basic work, for instance to stand still when the horseshoes were being taken off. This is a typical method used by gauchos

Glenio has so many stories to tell. The two weeks we spent with him certainly only scratched  the surface of his incredible and adventure-filled life. We are incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know him and his lovely animals.  

Make sure to check out Stines Instagram highlight “Campo Uruguay” to see all the work we did while staying with Glenio Antonio. 

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