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Up Ortega Hobbles Clayton Moore Hitched Quirt 1 Hitched Quirt 2 Hitched Quirt 3 Hitched Rawhide



Saddles Horsehair Bridles Quirts & Rawhide

Item # RH120     SOLD

About The Hobbles:

This set of hobbles is a beautiful example of Luis Ortega's exquisite work.  The left and right hobbles are attached by a braided rawhide covered brass ring, not unlike those rings manufactured for use on saddles and bridles.  The piece is 12 1/2 inches long.  The ring measures 2 inches in diameter and is covered beautifully with a close, hard weave of rawhide that wraps around the inside and braids at the outer edge.  Each hobble is made of 1/4 inch square braiding.  Their are two flat knots on each.  The larger is located next to the center ring to make the loop that mounts the hobbles to either side of the ring.  They measure 3/4 inches wide and wrap around the 4 strands of braid.  The smaller us used to form the loop into which the knot fits to close/open the hobble.  That flat knot is 1/4 inch and is wrapped around 2 strands of 1/4 inch braid.  {see detail photo of hobble}.  The round knots that act as the closure for the hobbles are 1 inch round balls - masterfully braided and in absolutely stunning condition.  This set of hobbles is in excellent condition.  A beautiful piece of history and extremely collectible.

About Luis Ortega:

Born in 1885 on the Spade S Ranch near Santa Barbara, Luis Ortega was a living connection to the golden era of California ranching. He was taught to braid rawhide as a child by a 104-year-old Chumash vaquero, Fernando Librado, who had worked cattle at the Spanish California missions in the 1830s. Ortega continued to braid rawhide gear as a young vaquero on West Coast ranches.

Luis Bierbant Ortega was a direct descendant of José Francisco de Ortega (1734-1798), one of the most influential citizens of early California. Sergeant José Francisco de Ortega served as chief scout for Don Gaspar de Portolá’s Spanish expedition to present-day California in 1769. He was the first European to discover the San Francisco Bay by land. Sergeant Ortega also established the San Diego, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Barbara presidios and was later commandante of the Loretto and Monterey settlements. In 1794, José Francisco de Ortega established the famed Rancho Nuestra Senora del Refugio near Santa Barbara.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO G.S. Garcia  Silver Engraved Bit No. 80 - Ortega Braided Rawhide Reins

The braiding traditions of early California vaqueros survived into the 20th century because many respected horsemen on the West Coast valued the subtle characteristics of braided rawhide gear.  Numerous braiders gained a reputation for the quality of their reins, hackamores and reatas.  They were careful to provide a core for the braiding with just the right amount of flexibility and for building reatas with no splices or weak spots in the rawhide strands.  They prided themselves on reliable gear with clean, straight braiding.

[This photograph was taken later in Mr. Ortega's life, in 1974]

In the late 1920's Luis Ortega began a relationship with the G.S. Garcia shop that lasted for many years.  At that time, and for the next 15 years or so, Ortega reins were not the fancy show work that one often sees as examples of his work.  However, it is well documented that he was charging a relatively high price for his work even during the early 1930's, as Les Garcia of the Garcia Saddlery in Elko, Nevada sent some reins back to Ortega, stating that they were not able to sell the pieces as such a high price, due to the depression.

Few braiders developed the clientele who would pay high prices for intricate and decorative braiding, which required triple or quadruple the number of hours to create.  In this regard, Luis Ortega was the exception.  His friendship with famed Western artist Ed Borein, who became his mentor and business advisor, exposed his work to the artistic and Western-oriented clientele who frequented Borein's studio and collected his work.

The two met in 1932, when Luis Ortega broke his arm in a horse corral. [In the photograph, the man on the left is Ed Borein and the man on the right is Luis Ortega.  The photo was taken outside Borein's studio in 1934]. While in Santa Barbara seeing the doctor, he showed Western artist Ed Borein his braiding. Borein advised him to quit the footloose life of the vaquero and braid horse equipment full time. The artist admired the quality of Ortega’s work and encouraged him to braid rawhide on a more artistic level. He invited Ortega to share his studio, an opportunity Ortega took advantage of for seven pivotal years. This encouragement from a respected member of Santa Barbara’s art community convinced Ortega to pursue a new goal in his braiding career—rawhide artist. During this period he started braiding with finer rawhide strands and may have been the first California braider to interweave colored strands into his hackamores, reins and quirts.

At 36, he pursued his rawhide braiding full time. In 1938, he married Rose Smith, and settled in Santa Barbara. Well-known for his ability to gentle and train horses with the California-style hackamore, Ortega also wrote magazine articles and books that inspired horse enthusiasts throughout America. These methods of horsemanship and style of equipment, a legacy of the 19th century California vaqueros, are still in evidence today.  Mr. Ortega passed away in 1999.

Ortega Braided Rawhide Hobbles /Item # RH120  SOLD

Saddles Horsehair Bridles Quirts & Rawhide

Ortega Hobbles Clayton Moore Hitched Quirt 1 Hitched Quirt 2 Hitched Quirt 3 Hitched Rawhide


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Updated: Saturday July 05, 2014

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Members: National Bit, Spur & Saddle Collector's Association

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