Doma Vaquera Equitation

Posted on July 5, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, training.

doma_vaquera.jpgby Jerrilee Streeter

Doma Vaquera is a Spanish phrase that defines the individuals in Spain who work with the cattle and bulls on the ranches and out on the hillsides. The doma vaquera is a person who has a special manner, or style, in which they dress. There is special riding tack , and a unique, individual way in which their horses are taught and ridden that distinguishes them from other riding disciplines. In Spain, some Doma Vaquera still go into the bullring to challenge the bull and still others demonstrate their skillful riding as they guide their horse in their work among the cattle. Included with the regular gear that a doma vaquero works with is the use of a garrocha. The garrocha is a long wooden pole used as an extension of the doma vaquera’s arm to activate, push, and guide cattle along the hillsides. In countries outside of Spain, the Doma Vaquera has evolved into a riding discipline that simulates the pattern work and movements of a working bullfighter mount. The rider still wears the traditional outfit and saddles the horse with the traditional gear to practice a combination of lateral jumps, sudden stops, and pirouettes which are used by today’s working doma vaqueras. There are even riding competitions where participants can show their horse’s special abilities in performing the patterns and movements of the doma vaquero horse. This includes the garrocha which, when used in the competition arena, can be an artful, breathtaking performance, especially when the rider works through the maneuvers without the use of the reins. A demonstration of this can be viewed on the La Garrocha . (To preserve the purity of the performance the link has been kept in its original Spanish format.Click video to begin)  Doma Vaquero will show an public demonstration.

for riding demo.

The First Cowboys; the Vaquero

Posted on June 14, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, training.

The Vaquero vaquero.jpg

The Vaquero, or Mexican cattle herder, came from Mexico in the 1800’s and eventually became employees of the cattle and horse ranches that developed in the southwest.  Two parts of the southwest were predominantly Vaquero namely, Texas and  California. In these states the parents of many vaqueros  raised their families on the ranch where they worked, and as their children became Vaqueros and married, they too raised their families there. The beef industry was a powerful market, rising to its peak in the nineteenth century. The daily duties for a vaquero required long hours of strenuous livestock management, seeing to the transportation of cattle which they drove through rugged, raw territories to the markets where they were sold and shipped. The vaquero was also responsible for the breeding, branding, and safety of all the cows and horses on the ranch as well as the maintenance of the fencing and stabling. Although the western United States was still Mexican territory during this time, the ranchers carried a lot of influence since they were the providers of the food and the mounts for the Mexican Calvary, and eventually the US Calvary.

‘Most vaqueros were men of mestizo and Native American origin while most of the hacendados (ranch owners) were ethnically Spanish. Mexican traditions spread both South and North, influencing equestrian traditions from Argentina to Canada.  As English-speaking traders and settlers expanded westward, English and Spanish traditions, language and culture merged to some degree. Before the Mexican-American War in 1848, New England merchants who traveled by ship to California encountered both hacendados and vaqueros, trading manufactured goods for the hides and tallow produced from vast cattle ranches. American traders along what later became known as the Santa Fe Trail had similar contacts with vaquero life. Starting with these early encounters, the lifestyle and language of the vaquero began a transformation which merged with English cultural traditions and produced what became known in American culture as the “cowboy”. ‘ (J.Malone, p 3)

As eastern and mid-western settlers began their migration into the western territories they watched and learned the vaquero methods of cattle ranching. They adopted these methods when establishing their own ranches. When the western territories became adopted into the United States, many vaqueros stayed on to work for smaller ranches since many of the elaborate Mexican ranches were dissolved and their territories divided.
For a rare opportunity to learn more about the history of the Vaquero from someone who had personal experience, read Jesse Wilkinson’s site:   Vaquero.

Horses for Healing

Posted on June 4, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, military, riding, therapy, training.

Combat veteran Rick Iannucci with Cowboy Up!

Photo:Melanie Stetson Freeman

On June 8,2018 the U.S. House of Representatives passed bill: HR 5895, (the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2018), which included an amendment to increase funding for the Veterans Affairs’ Adaptive Sports Grant Program for equine-assisted therapy. The amendment, introduced by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) increases funding by $5 million for fiscal year 2019. The funding will enable an expansion of services that use equine-assisted therapy in conjunction with mental health care treatment and services to veterans.

excerpts from article by April Reese in Christian Science Monitor:

For 2-1/2 years, a stream of Iraqi and Afghan war veterans – many carrying both physical and psychological scars of combat – have found their way to Mr. Iannucci’s Crossed Arrows Ranch, about 15 miles south of Santa Fe, N.M. After first learning to groom and walk the specially trained quarter horses, the vets work their way up to mounting and riding them around the arena. As the veterans bond with the horses and learn how to “read” them, they begin to heal and feel connected with the civilian world again, Iannucci says.  “Horses are so in tune with you – if you’re uptight, they’ll know,” he explains. “They coax a certain level of contemplation out of you. They demand for you to be in the now. When the vets start working with the horses, they immediately start calming down.”

Some arrive with physical disabilities, such as limited use of arms or legs wounded in combat. Others are dealing with traumatic brain injuries, a result of roadside bombs or sniper attacks. Many have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “We call it ‘post-traumatic spiritual disorder,’ because we think the thing that happens to people in war is a wounding of the spirit,” Iannucci says. “Our goal is to find that [wound] and start working on it.”

Iannucci, a compact man with a purposeful demeanor and a walrus mustache, grew up in horse-racing country in southeastern Pennsylvania. From about age 12, Iannucci trained and rode quarter horses his family kept at his cousin’s farm. After retiring from his job as a US marshal working in Colombia, he moved to New Mexico and returned to horsemanship in earnest. He bought the ranch and built a horse arena, initially to provide a place for children to ride. A few years later he started inviting veterans to come and work with the horses. Word about Cowboy Up! began to spread. Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, former director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, visited the ranch last year. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D) of New Mexico has also paid a visit. “Rick doesn’t hesitate to take on a challenge, but he’s also a very humble and patient person,” Mr. Lujan says. “The program is truly impressive. Just to see the faith these men and women have is incredible.”

 

Securing Your Riding Seat

Posted on May 20, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: riding, training.

Picture

 

Here are three secrets to establishing a secure riding seat.

1. THE FIRST SECRET TO A SECURE-SEAT: DO NOT GRIP ANYWHERE. This may come as a surprise to you. You may be thinking “If I don’t grip with knees, thighs, calves (whatever), I’ll fall off. What else would keep me on the horse?” -Your Balance. When you are in perfect balance, your seat stays in contact with the horse’s back no matter what he does. This is the essence of a perfectly secure-seat. So how to you get there?
Imagine that your horse was short enough so that when you sat on his back, you could just touch the ground with the entire soles of your feet. Imagine stretching through your legs into the earth from the sole of your left foot, up through your left leg to your seat bones, down through your right leg, and into the right sole. Imagine balancing your pelvis gently on your seat bones—gently enough so that if your horse moved, your pelvis would simple roll with the movement. Your legs lie softly on your horse’s barrel like damp cloths. This is the foundation of a secure-seat. No matter what your horse does, your pelvis will automatically adjust, your seat bones and legs softly accommodating and following the movement. No matter what your horse does, you will NOT fall off. You will feel perfectly secure in the saddle because you have a perfectly secure seat.

2. THE SECOND SECRET TO A SECURE-SEAT: DO NOT SIT ON YOUR CROTCH! I know, “crotch” isn’t a pretty term. But nothing else will do. A secure seat requires that you sit lightly on your seat bones, lightly enough that your pelvis is free to flex and roll with your horse’s movement. Your crotch and pubic bone should NOT be in strong contact with the saddle. If they are, either your back is hollow (thrusting your seat bones back behind you and tipping your pelvis forward), or your saddle is too small for you. You may have hear the term “three point seat”. Some trainers will tell you that means sitting on both seat bones and the pubic bone.

WHY A THREE-POINT SECURE SEAT IS DIFFICULT FOR WOMEN TO ACHIEVE. Most women have hollow (arched backs) compared to men. You can test this easily. Stand up against a wall (or lie on the floor). If you can fit a fist between your back and the wall (or floor), your back is arched and hollow, and your seat bone are rotated back. You may notice that when you sit in a chair (or on your horse), you’re sitting on your crotch, not your seat bones. When you sit in the saddle, this will be painful, so you will roll onto your thighs to protect your crotch, and end up in a “perched” seat, not a secure seat. (Men tend to have the opposite problem, sitting on their back pockets, which puts them into a chair seat.)

HOW TO SIT ON YOUR SEAT BONES: To sit on your seat bones, you have to roll your pelvis under slightly and engage your abdominal and back muscles. This “engagement” and neutral pelvis is the core of power taught in Pilates, yoga, and martial arts. Without this, you will either be a stiff mannequin gripping your unfortunate horse or a floppy rag doll who gets jerked around whenever the horse begins to trot. This is the essence of a seat seat for both men and women.

Picture

THE THIRD SECRET TO A SECURE-SEAT: REALIZE THAT THE HORSE HAS TWO SIDES TO HIS BACK. Many riders think the trot is an up-and-down movement, and they try to “follow” this movement by “allowing” their seats to go up and down. But the Trot is diagonal gait; the fore and hind legs on opposite sides move together (unless your horse is a pacer). When the horse’s hind leg moves forward, his back will drop on that side. Your seat bone and leg must drop slightly in order to stay in contact with his back and barrel. This means that your pelvis and leg alternate with each stride. Sally Swift likened this to pedaling backward on a bicycle. Sally O’Connor talks about this at length in her classic book Commonsense Dressage.
If this concept seems foreign to you, you will never develop a truly secure-seat. So do this: Try focusing on what you feel in your seat and legs at walk. The horse’s belly will swing gently from side to side with each step, and his back will drop alternately on one side then the other with each hind step.     You’ll notice that to avoid interfering with this motion, your pelvis and legs must relax into it. If you simply relax your pelvis and legs, your horse’s barrel and back will move them exactly the way they need to move in order to stay with your horse’s motion. You don’t have to plan, think, push, pull, tip, or anything. You just need to allow the horse to move your legs and pelvis. When you can do this without thinking at walk, you’re ready to try it at trot. At canter, you will feel the same thing, except that the pelvis will circle slightly as in a hula dance. When you can do this, you will have arrived at your goal–a perfectly secure-seat. All of these activities will help you develop a soft, following, and perfectly secure-seat. The payoffs to this homework are enormous. Your horse will move more freely and willingly. You and your horse will be more balanced. Your horse’s gaits will show more “brilliance”, and will be much more comfortable for you to ride. And the cherry on top: A strong topline that will allow your horse to be a solid riding companion for many, many years.

from: Denise Cummins, PhD September 17 2015

Understanding the Mounted Police Horse

Posted on April 8, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, riding, training.

Providence Mounted Patrol

Providence Mounted Patrol

Thanks to Delfin Vigil for his following article:
Officially founded in San Francisco, California, in 1872 (two years after New York City’s), the mounted patrol unit has been trotting through the city’s streets fighting and preventing crime in three centuries. While in its — ahem — heyday, there were upward of 30 badge-wearing horses, and although at one point every substation in the city had horses, there are only 13 on-duty patrol ponies left at the department’s stables in Golden Gate Park. Although some critics write off the mounted patrol as a chance for police officers to joyride through the park, many don’t realize that the horses are putting their lives at risk.
During one of the initial and largest protests against the current war in Iraq, the mounted patrol unit was brought in to help the first officers on the scene, who were being backed in and surrounded by protesters near Third and Market streets.
“Eleven horses were brought in to save the officers,” remembers Sgt Downs. “We were able to part the sea of protesters without hitting, stepping on or even touching a single person. That’s the beauty of the horse.”
Aggressive dogs are probably the biggest danger to the four-legged officers.
In November 2003, a woman was walking Nettie, a pit bull mix, in Golden Gate Park when she decided to take off the dog’s leash to let it play with other dogs. But instead it went after police horse AAA Andy.
AAA, who is not in the insurance business but was given to the department by the company, was bitten several times in the belly and legs by the dog, which continued to chase him for about a half mile as AAA Andy tried to find his way back to the stables. The officer was thrown to the ground during the frenzy. Another officer had to shoot the dog (who survived) to stop the attack.
AAA Andy went on disability for a couple of months. Within weeks of being back on the job he was in the news again for galloping down the “Spider-Man” burglar who had a record of more than 60 acrobatic burglaries through skylights and ventilation shafts in Sunset District buildings. This time, “Spider-Man,” a.k.a. 27-year-old Kristian Kwon Marine, was on the run after snatching a purse at a cafe on Ninth Avenue and Irving Street. With only a good old-fashioned “he went thataway,” tip, AAA and Officer Kaan Chin chased the burglar down in a field in Golden Gate Park.
“What people don’t always understand is that most of what all police officers do involves crime prevention,” says Kaan, who rode AAA Andy. “But these horses are very capable of fighting crime in heat-of-the-moment ways as well. Once that saddle is put on, their personalities change and they are ready to work.”

Leg vs Back Movers

Posted on February 15, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, riding, training.
2012 Anky van Grunsven

2012 Anky van Grunsven

Gizelle Hamilton uses the biomechanic academics from Dr Gerd Heuschmann to explain the confusion connected to the training of horses when riders mix a spectacular leg moving horse for the correctly moving swinging back stride of dressage horses.

photo by Ken Braddick

photo by Ken Braddick

“A back mover is a horse who is engaged, forward moving and using their whole body correctly for their level of training. Dr Gerd Heuschmann refers to this state as “relative elevation”. A back mover has been trained in such a way that their head-neck position has been allowed to reflect the horses’ training level and progress, rather than rushing and taking shortcuts.” Her informative article will shed valuable insight on this subject: published at Sacred Horse

The Military Horse of 1863

Posted on February 3, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, health, history, training.

Sherman

General Sherman

The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War since it ended the Confederate General Robert E Lee’s advancement northward to conquer New England. The State of Massachusetts had sent among its troops the 9th Battery Mounted Division with Captain John Bigelow in charge, who was severely wounded early on during the battle on July 2nd. The Mass Battery brought 110 men: 10 were lost, 18 wounded;  but of the infantry mounts – 88 horses of the 9th were killed on the battlefield. The Northern, or Union Soldiers, were 90,000 in number; they lost 30,000.  The Southern, or Confederate Soldiers, came with 75,000 men; they lost 27,000. Horses estimated killed in battle at Gettysburg: 1.5 million horses dead. Said Capt Bigelow: “The enemy opened a fearful musketry fire, men and horses were falling like hail…. Sergeant after Sergt., was struck down, horses were plunging and laying about all around….”

Horses from Battle at Little Round Top/Pictures from Library of Congress,Civil War Collection


Requiem for the War Horse

No battle fought was theirs by choice, nor came victory from their breath,

But they trotted forward just as ordered – into bullets, swords, and certain death.

Their brave hearts beating in silent courage, in fear that no voice would tell

They stood as targets, lay down as barriers to protect riders from being killed.

They labored for our liberty, they forfeited their lives,

Faithful military horses one and all — felled by cannons, bullets, and knives.

They bore the blows and fatal wounds to save their mounted friends–

Who had only saddles but no horses, when each battle came to end.

The war horse asked no questions, sought no medals, nor decorated pins

Just blinked an eye and charged ahead, trusting they’d go home again.

We salute with honor their deeds of valor: their sacrifice, pain, and torture.

For they were more than just mere transport….

They were the humbly silent:  Equine Military Soldiers.

Reader’s comment: I read once the way they trained the horses to charge into the face of fire was to have them charge a line of men. Then when they reached the line the men would pet them and praise them. They worked up to firing blanks when they charged. Then they would be petted and praised again. By the people firing as well as their riders, of course. There is an excellent video which documents the use and sacrifice of the 75,000 mules and horses that participated in the battle at Gettysburg. It is called, appropriately, “The Horses of Gettysburg.”

One correction, there were not 1.5 million horses and mules killed at Gettysburg alone. The estimate of horses and mules killed during the entire war are 1 – 1.5 million. In further news, for those interested in the incident with the 9th Mass. artillery, there is a good book titled “History of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery” by Levi W. Baker. Baker was a member of that battery. The illustrations are by Charles Reed, their bugler.

The sacrifice the men and horses of this battery made, stopped the Confederate Army from pouring through a large gap in the Union lines. There is actually going to be a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg in July 2013 (150 yrs) in which the 9th Mass. Artillery will reenact their part. Another interesting book for cavalry buffs is “The Battle of Brandy Station”, by Eric J. Wittenberg. It is North America’s lagest cavalry action ever, and took place just almost a month before Gettysburg. Mahalo, Steve

Thanks for your correction on the number dead for the whole war. Will look up your references also! Jerri



 

Teaching Detail to Your Horse

Posted on January 18, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, military, riding, training.
Kyra Kyrklund on Matador Photo by Ken Braddick

Kyra Kyrklund on Matador
Photo by Ken Braddick

 

Kyra Kyrklund, six time Olympic Competitor, and well known Dressage Grand Prix trainer discusses profound instruction for advancing your horse’s training by increasing its balance through using shorter steps and attention to detail.  “You can’t have control over your horse’s balance until you have control over your own balance. When you are balanced, you are the leader who oversees your horse’s length of step, speed, rhythm and direction. To be balanced, you need to have a correct riding position–you need to be sitting equally on both of your seat bones, centered in your body and strong in your middle part.” Read her article at:   Kyra

Book Review

Posted on January 7, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, history, riding, training.
Learning Riding Posture

Learning Riding Posture

“Dude! Did You Just Fall Off?” is a delightful kid’s e-book on Amazon’s Kindle that skillfully and humorously attempts to prepare the horse newbie for their first and, hopefully, subsequent encounters.  It boldly asks:  what would you do if you were invited to go horseback riding, had never even been near a horse, but really wanted to go?

Obviously this is not a common invitation for inner-city dwellers, but for the nearly 30% of rural school children, and even higher percentage of suburban students, a recreational weekend just may indeed include a friend’s offer to see their family’s stabled horse. Facing the reality of being near such a big animal and actually sitting on its back can seem adventurous,  but nearly everyone quickly discovers a sudden level of panic once they become face to face with such a large animal.

This is why we picked the “Dude!” book off the shelf of Amazon. This book stands apart from the plethora of previous books by the way it brings horseback riding into your home and helps you practice balance and posture before you even head out to your friend’s barn. The list of straightening and correcting exercises range from simple body adjustments to learning ready-to-use moves while in the saddle. It had such great ideas plus a wallet saving price of only $2.99. Download it to your phone or tablet and refer to it right on the way to the stable. Personally, we found it just as helpful for adults. Enjoy..

Minimalist Horse Training I

Posted on December 5, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, health, riding, therapy, training.
*Jentry rides her pony round the cones

*Jentry rides her pony round the cones

Minimalist training is exactly what it implies. When circumstances demand our absence from our horse for long periods of time, the moments we spend with him can be highly productive by minimizing and focusing what we try to accomplish with him. Training the horse takes place every time we touch our horse. The horse learns how we prefer him to behave. Minimalist training does not attempt to build muscle on our horse; only daily, vigorous forward riding can do that. But it can produce an obedient, trusting animal in only a minimal amount of time. Well structured, short sessions always produce ample results, and sets the tone for subsequent training sessions.

Whether you have been away from your horse one day or sixty days, it is always best to start an exercise session by either free- lunging your horse, or on the long line before doing anything. This gives you a chance to see how the horse is moving, specifically if he is favoring or limping on a leg or hoof. Even though you were away and and haven’t seen the horse, he could have twisted or stepped on something in his turnout, or paddock time. Once you determine he’s moving fine it’s time to exercise.

If you are able to ride once a week you can actually accomplish a lot with the use of  cones. With just two cones you can address bending, balance, and response time to cues.  Three cones is a luxury where you can set up a spacious triangle, or a straight line, and combine threading and circling to promote bending and re-bending. Cones provide a great short cut to helping your horse learn how to stay on the intended circle; not to change speeds on his own; and to bend both to the right and to the left. As he gets the hang of it at the walk then you can pick up a trot, taking care in keeping him balanced and adjusting his tendency to dip around turns.  Practicing halts, changes of stride from longer to shorter, using transitions between the walk and the trot, these changes keep your horse’s attention by keeping him focused on the work. Remember, you are not developing muscle so much as alertness to cues, and obedience to direction.  If you are able to move to canter work you will find endless options for practicing figure eights, flying changes, and even counter canter.

Ground poles can expand your cone lessons by changing the focus from turning and flexing exercises to lessons on lifting and carrying.  This helps activate your horse’s hind quarters, and subtly addresses ‘dragging toes’, a problem where the horse drags his back feet across the ground which causes stumbling. One of my favorite uses of ground poles is to lay down two parallel poles in three different places in the riding ring, placing a cone at the ends of each group of poles. Then I have the horse step over the center of one set of ground poles, bend right around the end cone, come back and step over the center of the poles again then turn left, (making a figure eight), and as we step back over the center of the ground poles once more then we move into either leg yield/shoulder-in/or half-pass toward the new set of poles where I can repeat my figure eight. None of these activities require extensive muscle strength, but they do address alertness, suppleness in bending, and stepping the hind legs under the horse’s barrel. Remember that minimalist training is for infrequent riding, focusing on building behavior, response, and trust. I have found it fully effective with horses ridden as little as three times a year! Muscle strength and stamina, however, can only be developed through a daily, vigorous riding program.
Next: Minimalist Training II  Scaling it down even further.

*photo from Jennifer Buxton; Braymere Custom Saddlery

equi-works

equi-works