Culture & Art

May 1, 2015

Hollywood's favourites

Ever wondered where all the horse tack seen in famous movies, such as Lord of the Rings, Prince of Persia and others where made? If you have, here's the answer: in Portugal. More precisely, a Portuguese family in Leiria, Portugal.

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The workshop, with the sewing machines and counters full of girth, several pieces of leather, glue, knives, scissors, threads, and so many other items necessary for the making of these prestige saddles is, makes you wonder how on earth did Hollywood came to find this saddle maker. But it's a good thing they were found though. The first experience with the Big Screen was in "The Man in the Iron Mask", but what set them off was the movie "The Brothers Grimm". After that, Hollywood was enriched, and movies like "The Last Samurai", "Alexander the Great", or "Robin Hood" had the privilege to gear up the horses with custom made, high-quality horse tack.

If you ever noticed the horse tack used in any of these movies, then you may have noticed how exquisite they are. And if a close-up of them caught your eye, remember: all of those embroideries, stitching and leatherwork were handmade in one single shop, by a group of only six people. Even the hundreds of pieces ordered for "The Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian" were produced by these 6 people.

Victor Domingues is the owner, and the third descendent of the first Domingos man to open the horse tack shop. His great-grandfather Joaquim began the line, and passed his knowledge on to his son, and he passed it on to his son, all the down to Victor, who took over the family business, and made it renowned worldwide. But his production is not exclusive for Hollywood movies. Several private clients search for his work, who learnt of him from other personal orders, and even through references from Hollywood. The company Equicouro-Correeiros, Lda exports for over 18 countries, among which are Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Morocco, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden. In the cinematographic world, they present themselves as the brand Só.Couro.

What makes these product's high quality and what made the biggest Hollywood production seek them out? Well, their best feature is the fact that all pieces of tack are handmade, with love and care, and also the four generations' worth of know-how, that allows them to create and develop unique pieces. 

At any given moment, they may have an order, and then starts the hard work. Sometimes for months, they work for days with little time to rest, and Victor's team does this with all the patience and dedication needed for such a grand task. For a better picture of the production, it should be said that in one saddle, four types of leather are used, each with a different thickness. Faithfully, and proudly, the company refuses to use other than the true Portuguese bull girth. They also insist on acquiring al the metal parts from Portuguese production, making their gear completely produced in Portugal.

They may also be embroided in gold! The King of Morocco, bought a gold embroided saddle, for a mere 6000€. Through the movie reference, or private clients, Victor Domingues gets the most unexpected orders, including a job for Hugo Chávez, contacted through the royal house of Spain.

Who would have thought that a little known hidden shop would have such importance in the huge business that is Hollywood? Next time you go to the movies, pay attention to the horses, if there are any. Most likely their horse tack came from this little shop.


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