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The Spaniards who invaded Mexico brought to North America a well-developed equestrian tradition. Over the centuries, horses, saddles, and other riding paraphernalia were altered by the landscape and the lifestyles of both Spanish and indigenous riders. Accompanied by mariachi music, la charrería is the elaborate and spectacle-driven tradition of horsemanship in Mexico. As a national sport rooted in the everyday demands of ranching, the crafts and techniques of charrería were adopted and modified by American settlers in the 19th century. They in turn developed their own rodeo tradition. This elaborate saddle with embossed silver medallions was given to General Philip Sheridan by a Mexican friend in 1866. In that year, General Sheridan armed Mexican nationalists led by Benito Juárez, and headed a 50,000-man army along the U.S.-Mexico border in order to pressure France to end its occupation of Mexico.
Description (Spanish)
Los españoles que invadieron México transfirieron a Norteamérica una tradición ecuestre bien desarrollada. A lo largo de los siglos, los caballos, las monturas y otra parafernalia relativa a la equitación se modificarían para adaptarse a la geografía y al estilo de vida tanto de los españoles como de los indígenas. Junto al acompañamiento de música mariachi, la charrería es la tradición ecuestre de México, elaborada y transformada para el espectáculo. Como práctica nacional enraizada en las demandas cotidianas de la vida en las haciendas, el arte y la técnica de la charrería fueron adoptados y modificados por los colonos americanos en el siglo XIX, quienes a su vez desarrollaron su propia tradición de rodeo. Esta compleja montura con medallones de plata estampados en relieve fue entregada al General Philip Sheridan por un amigo mexicano en 1866. En dicho año, el General Sheridan armó a nacionalistas mexicanos conducidos por Benito Juárez, quien encabezó un ejército de 50.000 hombres a lo largo de la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México para presionar a Francia a que pusiera fin a la ocupación de México.
Currently not on view
Object Name
saddle, charro
Date made
ca 1865
associated date
associated user
Sheridan, Philip H.
Felipe del Aguila
place made
location where used
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
iron (overall material)
silver (overall material)
parchment (overall material)
wood (overall material)
repoussed (overall production method/technique)
stamped (overall production method/technique)
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Philip H. Sheridan
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ethnic
Government, Politics, and Reform
Cultures & Communities
Mexican America
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Is there a detailed description of the saddle and provenance available. Would like to know maker, saddle construction, how Sheridan acquired it and under what circumstances and date it was presented to Sherdan.
A very detailed description about the construction can be found in the 1980 book, "Man Made Mobile" by former Smithsonian Institution curator Richard Ahlborn. This publication has been made available online through the Smithsonian. The saddle was made by Felipe de Aguila in Mexico City about 1865. In center of cap reads: "L. Galvan to Maj. Gen. P.H. Sheridan / Feb. 20th, 1866". The Army Navy Journal for 1866 makes reference to this saddle.

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