Av. Paseo de la Reforma 10, Tabacalera, Cuauhtémoc, 06030 Ciudad de México, CDMX
The celebrated Paseo de la Reforma avenue is filled with monuments and landmarks that have significant historical value and symbolize in a way a part of Mexico’s national identity. There’s the Angel de la Independencia (“Angel of Independence”) and the Diana la Cazadora (“Diana the Hunter”) but one of the landmarks that changed over time is the Caballito (“Little Horse”), which ended up being modified according to new artistic tendencies and is now an abstract bright and yellow sculpture representing a horse situated in front of the National Lottery building. Some people are still puzzled by its appearance, as there was a time when its shape was more defined and its identity was less abstract.
It was the sculpture of King Carlos IV on his horse and was made in 1795 by Manuel Tolsá and was placed in Paseo de la Reforma in 1852 at the intersection with Juárez y Bucareli avenues; it was placed in front of the Paseo Nuevo bullfighting plaza, which would be replaced later by the private residence of Ignacio de la Torre, and where later the building of the National Lottery would be erected, showing that the Caballito and the National Lottery were always meant to be next to each other. This “Original Caballito” made by Tolsá depicting King Carlos IV was moved from Paseo de la Reforma and placed in the Plaza Manuel Tolsá (honoring the original sculptor) that’s located in Tacuba street, in front of the Palacio de Minería.
That left Paseo de la Reforma without its own Caballito so a new version was commissioned and was designed by the sculptor that goes by the name of “Sebastián” (real name is Enrique Carbajal) and was inaugurated in 1992. This new modern and abstract Caballito is not only an object of an aesthetic value, but it’s also a vent that dissipates the toxic fumes that come from the deep sewer system. This was done because the fumes would previously cause tourists and commuters to become nauseous with the smell that escaped the vents that used to be at street level, now they are released 28 meters into the air.
Carbajal’s abstract design was meant to not celebrate the bloody action of conquest and oppression, which he interpreted the old King Carlos IV sculpture to represent, that’s why there’s no one riding on a horse, it’s just a simple and peaceful horses head (allegedly).