The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955 Page: 204
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Thornton Wilder said the things that separate men from one
another are less important than the things they have in common;
so let us talk a bit about the gaucho of the pampas, the huasso of
Chile, the gaoucho of Brazil, and the llanero of Venezuela, so that
you, who know the cowboy so well, will see how closely he re-
sembles his brother horsemen. Thus may we dispel some part of
the mist, for the love of the horse has always been a bond between
men, a kind of international lingua franca that bypasses the
barrier of language, and brings them closer together.
It is to Spain that all these horsemen owe their being, for
Columbus and the Conquistadores brought over the first horses
and cattle that eventually populated North and South America
with vast feral herds.
Even riding gear and handling methods came from the Iberian
Peninsula for, long before 1492, Spanish cattlemen branded their
herds and sang to them at night, wore chaps, used a reata, tailed
bulls, and made long drives to better pastures.
As for the ring bit used throughout this hemisphere, it was in-
vented before the Christian era by the Arabs, taken by them to
Spain, and it finally came to the New World in the mouths of
the horses of the Conquistadores.
Last summer, I found this bit in a surprising place. Riding
down the Champs Elysees, I saw a troop of turbaned Spahis (the
Algerian cavalry of France) their red and white burnooses billow-
ing in the breeze, as they trotted by on white barb stallions. They
were so picturesque that I went to their barracks, and was sur-
prised to find they still used the ring bit invented by their Arab
ancestors. Their high-pommeled, high-cantled saddles were exactly
like those the Spaniards had copied, and which the Conquista-
dores brought to America.
The Mexicans adopted this Conquistador saddle in almost
every detail, but moulded the pommel into a large wooden horn
for dallying. When we took it over, we improved it by replacing
the clumsy wooden horn with a neat metal one, and we also
discarded the ring bit for one less severe.
On the pampas of South America, however, wood was scarce,
so the Argentine saddle was made of more easily obtainable ma-
terials. Patterned after the Silla de Brida of Northern Spain, it
was built up, like a cake, in layers of sweatcloths, leather, and
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955, periodical, 1955; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/m1/243/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.