Travel Diary Blog


Bagual Ponchos

30 October 2016

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Autumn wearing her new poncho after a riding safari on Exmoor. Woven using traditional ancient warp and weft Indian techniques on the loom in Catamarca province, Argentina. Excellent hand spun wool from Patagonia. Having used ponchos for many years, there is nothing that has been missed in quality and design. Ensured to become a warm, faithful and very useful travel companion!


Using on natural dyes and natural colour of the wools. Traditional artisans at work dyeing with walnut shells for sandy brown finish, onion skins for different burned yellows, maté yerba leaves for mossy greens … plants and minerals to.

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Robyn in same poncho design.

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A plain grey natural wool with old tradition design of ‘winka’ border on the collar (brown, dyed with walnut shell). Good length and long borders which is important for comfort and warmth, whether riding, walking or sitting outside.

For more product photos, contact us. You can buy a poncho for U$700 plus post and packaging.

Otherwise supplied this season at the appropriate location of  ‘basecamp’ on  The Patagonia Trail horse safari, Argentina.




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Bagual Trading Co. – ponchos

10 August 2016

The Poncho:

Galloping the Globe 46

Having used ponchos for many years now and admired some rare special examples at times – we have started to have some of our own made for clients. As always, in the spirit of our passion for natural fibres, we are supporting a traditional artisan, a very skilled one at that.

All the dyes we are using are natural, varying from tree bark, walnut shells, onion skins, yerba mate and plants.

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It was a wonderful journey to go and source our ‘weaver’. James sort of had an open book outlook, that he would somehow find a talented weaver – his objective was that the weaver used traditional artisan methods, natural dyes and that were experienced and that the quality was excellent. The trail led to a family in the north western provence of Argentina, Catamarca.





The family we decided to partner with welcomed us in despite our late evening arrival, with their name scribbled on a piece of paper – they promptly energised us with maté mixed with mountain herbs (which was delicious and we love our maté). Our hosts not only surpassed all our objectives that we were looking for, but their flare for hosting and using local ingredients in their cuisine won our hearts as well!

Our first batch of our designed ponchos will soon be finished and make the journey to the UK, where will photo them and post the pictures. They have been produced using the natural colours seen above, using the best quality wool from Patagonia and traditional spun and then woven in Catamarca.




In the meantime, with regards some imagery, James has a number of ponchos he loves to use for riding and evening outings. Here are some lifestyle shots of friends sporting the poncho (not part of the new range, that is to come!).

Valle de Las Chinas




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Galloping the Globe 64

Galloping the Globe 45

Range of ponchos coming soon, definitely an elegant bit of kit that travels well, on and off horseback!

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Bagual Trading Co. – elegant kit that travels well!

8 August 2016

The Bagual Bombacha (trouser):



A unique trouser design that James has created over the years – a mixture of the orient, argentine bombacha and the english breach. We have created a trouser that is comfortable, elegant and practical. Looks good on and off the horse – with or without riding boots. Available in different weights for different climes. Supporting the most skilled, traditional tailor in Argentina as we have always done. Top quality. They travel well and will become a favourite.





We do a high waist option seen here in corduroy.










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Some lifestyle shots out and about on safaris

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We have stock for :-

4,6 and 8 year olds ( boys and girls)

£50 per bombacha

Ladies 28,30 waist (regular and long leg). Cream cotton.

£100 per bombacha

Mens 30,32 waist (regular and long leg). Mustard and green cotton.

£120 per bombacha

Tailormade options – please contact us to place orders. 4 to 6 weeks turn around.

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Glorious Wool

3 July 2014

Artesan hand spun wool from Patagonia

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Palio di Siena 2nd July 2012

2 August 2012

... and they're off!

Il Palio is a horse race between 10 of the 17 Sienese contrade, city wards . It takes place twice a year and is run in the central Piaza del Campo. It is highly competive, full of passion, great fun, and ridden bareback a fantastic pace.

Onda still out in front!

The July race is held to co-incide with the date of the Feast of Visitation and also is held in honour of the Madonna of Provenzana.

Scenes from the pageant

Il Palio drawn by huge Brahmin bulls

Among the events that mark the approach of the Palio are the rehearsal suppers. The day before the race the contrade (city wards) prepare their tables to host feasts for their members. It is such a fabulous sight seeing all the contrade laying up to 500 places outside in the streets.

Elephant contrada laid up for several hundred covers

Il Palazo del Campo

A rare gap with no contrada flags flying

The Giraffe contrada laying the tables

We dashed round to see all the preparations and thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the atmosphere of each contrada. Each of the 10 contrade competing have their specific place in the city where they prepare supper outside taking over a piazza or street and often right outside their church where the horse enters to be blessed prior to racing. Flags flying in numbers marking clearly each zone.

The snail contrada

Snail contrada

As far as I know Siena is the only catholic city in the world which allows horses to enter it´s churches to be blessed. Fantastic!

The evening before at supper, one of the Onda contrada certain of victory in the moro!

In the first of the four days of the festival, the lottery is held and the subsequent combination of the barbero (the term for “racehorse” in the city of Siena and Tuscany) to districts in the race. The stone race track around the square is covered with a layer of dirt composed of a mixture of tuff, clay and sand. Six trials are run, during which the riders have the opportunity to understand better the behaviour of the horse and to get used to the square, its sounds and rhythms of the race.

The track, close up!

The atmosphere is highly charged and if you immerse yourself into the build in the days before you soon realise that this much more than a race, that this is something particular to the Sienese for whom it is a way of life.


We enjoyed very much getting involved in the whole build, it enabled us to understand and appreciate the importance of Il Palio. We of course loved the pageant, the race and celebrations afterward (particularly as our contrada won – Onda, the colours blue and white.

Balconies begin to fill

The contrade spend the year preparing for the occasion. It is fantastic how it joins all the communities of the city – particularly in the 4 build up days – everyone out in the streets eating and talking – despite contrade rivalries there is a proudness which is wholly Sienese and unique. The winning contrada provides the wine for everyone to drink, it flows from huge containers lining the street, there are no exclusions.

Eagle contrada flying their flag

The origins of horse racing in Siena dates back to medieval times. This race in particular began to take on more importance as other competitive games diminished or became banned. The first modern Palio called Palio alla Tonda (to distinguish it from the earlier Palio alla lunga which ran across the city) took place in 1656.

Original ring to tie horses up in the old streets. Seen everywhere.

Our contrada is Onda (Wave), light blue and white in colour, with a fish as the animal mascot. Each contrada has its own animal or mascot. Others include the Giraffe, Snail, Eagle, Unicorn, Rhino, Porcupine and so on. Each has specific colours, distinct city boundary marked by numerous flags during the days before and after the racing. Each member will be wearing a scarf in the colours.

Here you see all the contrade flags flying

We ate with everyone in the streets at tables laid in the Onda colours and wine served badged with an Onda lable. It was a great scene, everyone chatting about the race the horse, the jockey and what tactics to employ in the race. Families all out with their children, including Jonny and Maria with little Enzo.

Onda pre race day supper

On the day before the Palio, the Italians were playing the Spanish in the final of the European cup. There wasn´t one Italian football shirt being worn and there was no mention or interest at all in the game nor the result! That is how important this horse race is to the people – completely focused on the horses. Amazing.

Streams of flag flying in the on going pageant

Onda´s horse was called Ivanoff, it was a fine black gelding, and having got fully immersed in the build we were in no doubt that it would win. Not only did the horse look in the best shape. The jockey sat well riding bareback, seeming to be able to keep his horse calm in the trial run and stood the best chance of getting the all important early lead before the first bend.

It was quite an experience on the day. horses are blessed in their contrade churches at 3.00pm and crowds begin filling the Piaza thereafter. There is a mass held for the Jockeys as well.

The Plaza shuts all the gates by 6.30pm. Jonny and I had planned a strategic late entry into the infamous middle of the piaza through the last gate to close, so as to get position on the edge and not be crammed in for too long. It was fun and a super atmosphere slowly filtering into the square and actually it was surprising roomy inside and the plan came good!

There was a magnificent pageant preceding the race which is called the Corteo Storico. Huge Brahmin bulls pulled a chariot with the all important Palio being held by priests. All in all it is riot of colour with flags flying, flags being thrown into the air, scarves being shaken – quite a scene full of medieval overtones.

The Palio close up

The race itself runs for three laps of the Piazza del Campo, the perimeter of which is covered with several inches of dirt and tuff and the corners of which are protected with padded crash barriers for the occasion. The piazza is far from circular and takes some fine horsemanship and indeed skilled horses to hold a good line at speed. It is fast and furious and all over within a minute!

Onda striding ahead of the field

Onda lead all the way

The jockeys ride the horses bareback – they enter the arena to great applaud and head to the starting line, an area between two ropes. Nine horses, in an order only decided by lot immediately before the race starts, enter the space. The tenth, the rincorsa, waits outside. When the rincorsa finally enters the space between the ropes the starter (mossiere) activates a mechanism that instantly drops the canapo (the front rope). This process (the mossa) can take a very long time, as deals have usually been made between various contrade and jockeys that affect when the rincorsa moves – he may be waiting for a particular other horse to be well- or badly-placed, for example.

The detonation of an explosive charge echoes across the piazza, signaling to the crowds that the race is about to begin – and amazingly 60,000 people fall silent.

Flag thrown into the air

Jonny and I could see the horses endlessly jossling for their place up against the starting rope and evidently one jockey preventing a start, heightening the tension. There was even a false start. The winner is the first horse to cross the finish line—a horse can win without its rider a condition known as cavallo scosso.

Coming into the final straight, Onda has it in the bag

Onda, our contrada, won, which was very exciting and made this Palio very special. The celebrations were amazing afterward, everyone moving toward the Onda zone. Huge amounts of wine beginning to line the streets.

Back at the stable

Trainer and groom

Onda flags and scarfs flying, being waved proudly, drums beating and church bells ringing. Bewildered and happy faces hanging out of their open windows. A tide of blue and white taking over the city.

A sea of blue and white as Onda won the Palio

Scarves flying from windows

The jockey carried passed on different people´s shoulders. The horse, Ivanoff, only a street away in his stable where a worship like descent was made by thousands of Sienese to pay homage. The stable, like an open house for people to enter, touch and stroke the horse now reached divine status.

Ivanoff, the Onda horse, leaving stable to be washed post race


Invanoff enjoying a drink and his new revered status and place in the history books.

The race track taken over with sienese wine and food

The days after the Palio we explored the sienese countryside where the horse grazes amongst the olive groves and vineyards.

Another horse tie


nice !


Contessa Pepita Radicatti di Brozolo Hamilton

Pepita turned 100 years old in March 2012, but sadly died soon after. Pepita was a fabulous character, an extrordinary talented horsewoman and greatly loved in the region. She will be tremendously missed, having given us many very happy times and memories over the years. Dear Pepita.

Maria and Enzo

The trip is this good!

More shutters!


Isla Elba

The Biggins!

Until the next Bagual expedition to Tuscany.




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Diamond Jubilee Horse Show – India, Oman …

16 May 2012

Visions of Colour and Costume. Men, women and horses clad in silver, silks and wonderful textiles. Spontaneous encounters with the Chilean Huasos, elegant in their striking sombreros, baggy bombacha riding trousers and ponchos folded resting on their shoulders. A Russian Kosak galloping by so fast, if you blinked you´d never see horse or rider!

Dancing Mawaris

The warmest hospitality that we experienced was at the Oman Tent, hosted by the Royal Omani Guard. Horses tacked up in silver bridles. Wafts of fine incense floating around their open encampment. Dates and coffee on offer whilst relaxing on splendid cushions.  Everyone in splendid dishdash designed robes of varying shades. Headdresses to match. Canes in hand and at times playing the bagpipes!

Omani Silver Tack

Traditional desert hospitality

My personal highlight of the Show was the Marwari dancing horses moving to the rhythm of traditional Indian instruments. Horses clad in beautiful textiles, giving a whole different soft intimate feel to the relationship of horse and rider. India demonstrates a fine balance in many aspects of its stimulating culture – their unique understanding of the horse is another example of how they study life to a deeper level. The horseman seems to have an aura which is so outwardly humble to this animal he or she considers to be Divine. There is a look and understanding so deep felt, something very special indeed.  Delicate and affectionate.  I have been inspired personally and I look forward to exploring this relationship they have with the horse more.

Tacked in cotton and wool




The Golden Karabakh Horse of Azerbaijan.  I enjoyed learning about the riding traditions of this region which lies west of the Caspian Sea and borders Georgia. This looks like a good place to explore! The painting tradition is rather splendid as well, a full mix of artistic influences. Islamic yet figurative. The ancient burning fires from the natural gases, making dramatic backdrop scenes.

The Karabakh Horse of Azerbaijan

Everything at the weekend was leading up to the Sunday evening Royal Pageant. All the horse owners’, trainers, horseman and women, were all very excited building up to this moment. It was so wonderful to hear them all taking about it in the days before hand, asking if you you were going. Super. All the hundreds of horses from around the world performing their unique displays. Having been in Chile this year, the Chilean horsemanship and dress was very familiar, envoking a fond feeling and bringing back nice memories. They were very popular with the Windsor crowd, riding with great passion astride their fast responsive chileno horses of criollo breeding. They evoked a wonderful atmosphere, their woven woollen ponchos flying behind them. Their elegant distinctive wide brimmed sombreros.

All the Queens horses

Queen Elizabeth II - literally bringing the horse world together

The thing I liked with the Royal Cavalry of Oman – no stirrups! No shoes, barefoot! Plus they had women in the cavalry. As Ali pointed out, the women were dressed as women in feminine attire, not as men in masculine garb as in other country regiments. Rather splendid. My word the girls rode well, galloping past the Queen stood up bare foot on the saddle. Fabulous. Plus fine green silk saddle blankets. Finely crafted and very light weight silver tack.


The Women in the Royal Cavalry of Oman

Most spectacular for me were the Kosaks from Russia. Fast and furious acrobat displays. Completely mad!

The Cossaks








One little side moment  I remember and enjoyed – it was during the middle of the Pageant, at a quiet moment in the seats just along from us, a Chilean, who had just been riding in what was a fabulous crowd pleasing energy burst of fine horses and horsemanship, returned to his chair His fine traditional garb flashing past everyone as he was rushing to his place. With a flick of his poncho, a deeply respectful expression and bow, lifted off his sombrero to the Queen and took his position now as spectator just below her. A wonderful exchange and passing of different clans!

The Chilenos

With so many horses from different parts of the world, a rare eccletic mix of colour, costume and culture came together in a small space as a glorious melting pot. It was a very interesting weekend and the Royal Pagaent was a great finale and extremely moving at times.

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Bagual Textiles, Arts and Crafts

30 April 2012

After renewed interest from clients and friends Bagual is now giving you the opportunity to place bespoke Textile, Arts and Crafts orders. If you are going out yourself we will likewise happy to give advice and point you in quality directions!

'When men and mountains meet, great things happen' William Blake

We have a real interest in supporting the skilled local artisan and have been commisioning and personally collecting pieces, having things made for many years – very much a life long passion and indeed was the founder´s study background at SOAS, University of London.It will be a personable experience and you´ll just need to call or write to us for us to organise a commission. We will work with you on ideas – and establish exactly what you want and have it made for you. You might be after a a textile piece to use as a throw for a sofa or bedspread. Something to wear maybe or something for a wooden or stone floor.

Good luck, hang your coat up

Arts and textiles for the Horse. Of course this tradition is an ancient old one dating back centuries. Thus finely woven saddle blankets and saddle bags make wonderful household decoration. We can arrange bespoke finely made leather halters, traditionally made saddle blankets, these can sit well over certain bits of furniture in European homes.

Mapuche saddle blanket

Mapuche Saddle blankets in the coral

gently taming



Love heart halter design, Argentina

Argentine Lasoo

Saddle detail

Wool shawl with saddle kit


Ponchos and Sombreros

mate on sheepskin saddle cover

Rustic tack room, Argentina

Carriage, Argentina

mapuche saddle blanket

blending of autumnal colours


The criollo horse - inspiring forms and colourations


Ali clad in light pontio with dramatic backdrop. A favourite garment!

Special bagual bombacha riding trouser design. We know and have been using lots of traditional tailors for years. let us know your measurements, what you are looking for and we can help make it happen for you.Partner designers:Beshlie bespoke designs  from South Asia. Beshlie sources and makes wonderful fine woollen garments which become favourite travelling companions – a fine balance of elegance and practicality.

Besh, riding in Chile looking for wool!


Besh, finds her flock of Chilean Merino sheep!

Indian scarf detail, Chile Patagonia

Proper patagonian woollen jumpers. We have a lovely artisan lady who obtains the raw wool from source, spins, and knits them. You can have the wools in their natural colours of vaying cream, browns and greys. Or you can have them dyed in rustic pinks, greens and yellows – colour obtained 100 percent from traditional natural dyes using local plant or mineral. All details will be attached to your order.

James sporting a favourite patagonian woollen polar neck

Lambs wool and alpaca shawls tied to saddle

2 short sleeve V necks, using local natural plant dyes - Chile, Patagonia

Another great companion!

The orange colour comes from the patagonian Calafate plant

Argentian and Chilean Ponchios that can be used as useful warm garment – or for throws over sofas, bed covers, picnic rugs and so on. The indigenous designs (eg Mapuche) in these regions are high quality, wonderfully simple at times, yet with an elegance – using natural dyes from local plants and minerals. These pieces travel well and sit wonderfully in european country home.

Ali, in favourite light pontio

Nice shawl detail, ali with canine friends

Mapuche poncho slung over post

folded mapuche pontio

Antique mapuche throw

antique matra detail

Asian Arts and CraftsAt our work shop office and home we have a varied and detailed emporium of Asian Arts and Textiles. Drop by for ‘chai’ to visit and get some ideas on what might look good at your house. After sometime away from the Asian continent we are returning this year with projects which will result in annual visits. So we´d be glad to help you find what you are after.

Mughal painting - hunting scene

to be continued …

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Mapuche Blanket: A Patagonian Romance

6 October 2011

The first ever textile I bought in South America was a Mapuche blanket: woollen; plain-woven; dyed green by some Patagonian plant; warm; versatile and an invaluable addition to my romantic riding wardrobe. Escaping from an afternoon rainstorm that caught us by surprise somewhere in the shadows of La Campana, I lost that blanket from beneath my saddle. Repeated re-tracings of our hoof-steps never brought it to light; a testament to it’s so-inherently-natural-ness that it blended perfectly right back into that landscape from whence it came.

I have now lived and worked with complex, intricate hand-made weavings in the Peruvian Andes for the last three years, but its that blanket and its raw, utilitarian cousins from the South that inspired me to stay so long in the first place. I have since bought numerous similar blankets, and have lost them all over Patagonia; I only wish them a similar fate as the first.

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