El Caballito: Puerto Vallarta’s Iconic Sculpture
“El Niño sobre el Caballito de Mar” sculpture (“The Boy on the Seahorse”), commonly known as “El Caballito”, is one of the Puerto Vallarta’s icons.
Although most of the residents and visitors of our destination know this figure located on the Malecón, a few people know that Rafael Zamarripa’s original work was placed in the late 1960s in Las Pilitas, at the southern tip of Los Muertos Beach.
After a strong storm swept it away into the sea, a larger replica was requested from the artist and this one was placed on the Malecón in 1976, the first statue of many that are now part of an open-air exhibition along the seaside promenade.
According to Juan Manuel Gómez Encarnación, chronicler of the City of Puerto Vallarta, “to interpret this bronze figure, we have to think about the elements that make it up. The hippocampus refers to the sea as the generator of our destination’s nature. The child means hope looking to the future. His smile and outstretched arm in a welcome way is a symbol of friendship and kindness. The charro hat embraces the pride of being from Jalisco, as well as the culture, traditions and history of our country.”
Born in Guadajalara, Jalisco in 1942, Rafael Zamarripa is currently one of the most respected choreographers and teachers of contemporary and folk dance in Mexico. In addition, he is a painter, sculptor, ceramist, designer and set designer. At the age of 18, he won the Premio Nacional de Escultura (National Sculpture Prize) and, at that time (1960), he was commissioned to create “El Niño sobre el Caballito de Mar”, a work that has become an icon of Puerto Vallarta.
Photo courtesy of Víctor Lara.