Much travel in rural Nicaragua is still on horseback. A few words and pictures of Nicaraguan saddles are in order. What has never been found by the author are any saddles, or remnants such as trees, that can be dated solidly in the 19th century, or earlier. The most prevalent types of saddles found in the countryside are the albarda, or all grass and leather saddle that is probably the oldest example of a Nicaraguan saddle; saddles that are copies of 1950ish rodeo saddles, and the most common, reproductions of the U.S. cavalry Model 1904 McClellan saddle. Regarding pack saddles, the prevailing form is a sort of adapted aparejo, with a bottom ledge added. The traditional cross buck pack saddle apparently has never made an appearance in packing circles.
Esteli, located in northern Nicaragua, is where most of the saddle trees are produced, as well as brass fittings for the McClellans. Saddlers tend to use wild avocado wood for the trees, as it is light and a bit flexible, much like cottonwood. The trees are covered with wet rawhide stretched and nailed, much like is done in traditional saddler circles in the United States. The effect is a workable and comfortable saddle, especially when made by some of the best saddle makers, located in Monimbo. The McClellan still survives because it is light, easy on the horse`s back, respects the horse`s withers, and easily ridden. It will be around for a long time. Flor more information on riding and pack saddles, see, Manual Of Pack Transportation, War Department, Office Of The Quartermaster General (Quail Ranch Books, 1981, reprint); Smoke Elser and Bill Brown, Packin´ In On Mules and Horses, Mountain Press Publishing Co, Missoula, 1980; Russel H. Beatie, Saddles, University of Oklahoma Press, 1981.

Hípico de San Marcos, 2012

Nicaragua’s Saddles And Its Equestrian Tradition

By Pat Werner Watching one of Nicaragua´s hípicos, or horse parades, give one the opportunity to reflect on the horses, riders, and saddles, bits and tack that passes before one`s eyes. Watching such a parade is sort of like watching a costume party where…