The centuries old art of the charro, or Mexican cowboy, is one steeped in chivalry, high ethics, expert horsemanship, and dedication to family and tradition (see WH article "Charro de Corazon," April 2007). A charro projects his proud heritage through everyday manner and traditional trappings.
"Dressing the charro is something you do with pride," explains renowned charro horseman Jose Pepe Diaz. "It signifies the maximum art of horsemanship, and even today, commands great respect."
From the daily working attire to height of grand elegance, charro clothing includes functional elements with varying degrees of intricacy. For example, the basic leggings, hat, and neckerchief of a charro's daily working attire are replaced with heavily embroidered leggings, colorful neck scarf and an equally embellished sombrero made of palm, hare or wool when a charro performs in public. As part of the grand elegance, the charro dons tight trousers, a matching bolero jacket and vest, often laced with suede and gold, and silver inlayed espuelas, or spurs.
The monturas, or saddle, is the most identifiable icon of charro horse gear with intricate hand-stitched designs fashioned from fibers of maguey cactus. The tradition of charro piteado, or embroidery, borrows influences from Arabian and Spanish cultures for its fretwork. The montura's large horn provides a secure anchor for dallying when roping livestock. For show purposes, the montura features an elaborate silver inlay horn, as well as additional silverwork and extensive piteado.
Additional charro gear includes, the bosalillo, or halter and lead rope, and reindas, or reins, which are used in addition to a bridle on the extensively trained charro mount; the mantilla, or saddle pad, and jorongo, or sarape, which is tied behind the cantle of the saddle and always matches the reins, headstall and saddle pad.