National Geographic : 1958 Mar
Pato, Basketball on Horseback, Demands Lightning-fast Mounts and Iron-armed Men One of the roughest games in sportsdom, pato originated among gauchos on the pampas. Contests became so vicious that authorities banned them for years. Pato, Spanish for duck, takes its name from the ball formerly used by the cow boys-a dead duck inserted in a leather bag, with head and tail protruding. Two teams of four riders each attempt to throw the ball - today an inflated rawhide bag with handles-into nets at either end of the field. When a player rides with the ball, he must hold it at arm's length; an opponent thunders alongside and grabs one of the handles. The tug of war often ends with the loser crashing to the ground. To retrieve a loose ball, the rider leaves the saddle and swoops toward earth. This ac tion took place in Palermo Park, Buenos Aires. Ball soars toward the net. Below: Goal! 314 Kodahromes by Eric Pavel © N.G .S .