Mother Hubbard Saddle

Saddle of choice for early American cowboys

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by Tom Wancho, Exhibit Planner

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the U.S.-Mexican War in 1848, gave the United States control of Mexico's northern and western lands, amounting to 1.2 million square miles. This new American territory included the modern-day states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, California, and Colorado and was already home to some 80,000 Hispanic residents.

These residents from what had formerly been Mexico’s territory contributed much to American culture. A lasting impact was made in ranching where Mexican vaqueros (cowboys) continued to work the western ranches as they had for decades. Anglo cowboys soon joined vaqueros on the ranches and began learning from them. The hats, chaps, spurs, boots, and lassos that are a standard part of the cowboy uniform are actually a vaquero tradition. Over time, cowboys began adapting the equipment to suit their own purposes.

The Mother Hubbard saddle is one of these adaptations. It first appeared during the 1860s as a smaller, lighter version of the saddle favored by the vaqueros. The Mother Hubbard saddle was better suited for dense brush and the long cattle drives. Less ornate than the Californian saddles preferred by vaqueros, it became the saddle of choice for American cowboys.

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Mother Hubbard Saddle Artifact from San Vicente Ranch, Linn, Texas
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