Classical Equitation by Charles de Kunffy

Posted on October 8, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history, riding, training.
image from equinethos

image from equinethos

(Excerpt)    Classical equitation is an art. Humans have unique attributes that take information (knowledge) and analyze it, then form syntheses and arrive at understandings, insights and the possession of wisdom. This is what enables mankind to create art. For the classical equestrian, his horse is his source of information, but without analysis, synthesis, insight, understanding and, finally, wisdom, he will never know the art of riding. Instructors are custodians of the equestrian arts. They must encourage, inspire and advise their students, but they cannot make them great riders. That remains the pupil’s job.  The word “dressage” is used precisely because of its double connotation for taming and training. One cannot train any animal without having its full attention and focus on the trainer. Taming—focusing the horse’s attention— is difficult because he is genetically determined by instinct and is programmed for multitasking. The rider’s job is to gradually replace the horse’s instinctive behavior with one of utter focus on his rider. This enormous change in the horse’s behavior— disconnecting from his instincts and focusing instead on his rider—can be earned only by a rider deserving of the horse’s total trust. Teach your students that horses trust consistency of behavior and kindness much like people do. A good rider teaches the horse by showing him what he wants patiently and repeatedly. A good rider does not overreact. He controls his own emotions and impulses much like a well brought up person should. Success is born out of empathy for the horse to the point of understanding the world through his point of view. The humility that comes from understanding that there are points of views in variance with our own is a guiding virtue in equitation.      Horses progress by being taught. It is a process opposite of disciplining. It is based on repeatedly showing what we want them to do and aiding, not punishing, them. This is what helps them figure out how to do what the rider wants. Horses are not proactive; they are merely reactive. The horse has no plan to disobey.    The rider must discover the reason for a mistake, and the instructor must assist him. The rider must show the horse what he wants, help him understand it and give him the skills to perform it. This means developing a plan for your student that gradually and systematically increases the horse’s strength and skills to reach the goals we want to achieve (while avoiding the monotony of drilling).

Horses are expected to startle. Startling is a life-preserving, inherited behavior that we must understand and accept. However, shying is induced by incorrect rider behavior. A shying horse perceives his rider as an enemy or attacking predator. When a horse is startled or takes flight from an imaginary danger, the rider is supposed to take flight with him, becoming a partner to the behavior. This reassures the horse of his safety. However, if the rider tenses and attacks his mouth with rein restrictions, the horse learns to fear his rider. That is why horses begin to shy. They will never understand why you want them to visit an object of imagined danger.  When a horse startles or shies, he becomes tense and stiff. Making him supple again starts with first calming his mind. Suppleness is a concept based on changeability, adjustability and controllability of the horse’s energies, which include his posture, his strides and his level of collection and engagement. The horse’s rhythm and tempo should also gradually become more precisely adjustable. There is no end to the development of suppleness through changeability. The rider should pursue suppleness— adjustability and energy freely flowing through the horse—from the first day of training to the last. Anything done with a tense, stiff horse is harmful to him. A young horse’s mind may wander, and he will alternate between periods of attention to the rider’s aids or attention to the environment, but a well-trained horse will remain on the rider’s aides because he trusts them. for the full article go to Facebook: Dressage Today

Why use a Dressage Whip?

Posted on October 4, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, riding, training.

*article by Karl Mikolka

photo Amd Bronkhorst

photo Amd Bronkhorst

 

Why Riders Need Whips
I frequently encounter riders who refuse to carry a whip for two main reasons. The first is always that their horses are afraid of the whip. I tell these riders that their horses’ fear stems from lack of trust, confidence and obedience: the three pillars that a rider must erect to ensure success in training. 
The second excuse is that the horses do not need the whip. This might be correct: The horses might not need a whip, but the riders do. Riding with a whip in the proper length of three to four feet requires a very relaxed wrist and a good feel in the hand. Feeling exactly when the whip makes contact with the horse’s side and maintaining this contact while in motion is possible only when a rider has acquired a proper arm-elbow-shoulder alignment and is relaxed in the wrist. All of that, of course, will improve sensitivity in the hands and, in the long run, will benefit the horse tremendously.

The gateway to the circle of aids is a horse well tuned to the whip. This is a horse who…
• is in front of the whip. He moves forward without fear or hesitation to a soft touch of the whip.
• is responsive to invisible aids. He pays attention to the softest movement form the rider.
• is guided by the rider’s legs. He withholds nothing that is possible and exerts himself as directed by his rider’s legs.
The ultimate goal of this type of training is to create a horse who “drives himself,” a horse who goes forward merely because he respects the presence of the rider in the saddle. Of course, this response shall not even remotely resemble one in which a horse races in fear of his rider. Forward always indicates a dignified, positive reaction on the part of the horse.

Each horse reacts differently to the touches of the whip. Some twitch their skin, others swish their tails, a few kick out and some react not at all. None of these is correct. The only correct response is one in which the hind legs become more lively, stepping more forward and under and flex more visibly. This is a true forward response. It is never correct for a horse to react to the whip by trying to run from it or by throwing himself into the rider’s hands. 
The old masters used to advise: “Do as little as possible but as much as necessary to reach your goals.”
It will take constant alertness on the rider’s part to never allow the horse to forget his level of sensitivity. If the touch of the whip creates liveliness in the horse’s hind legs, resulting in free forward motion, then the first stage of the circle of the aids has been established. Only then can the rider proceed to the second stage: the use of the legs in order to bring the horse on the bit, to make the horse relaxed and to prepare the horse to accept the half halts, in other words, to close the circle of the aids.

When we say that the legs should mainly act as guiding rails, we must not forget that guiding a horse on something like a circle involves a certain degree of bend if the horse is to conform to the circle. The bending around the rider’s inner leg is the foundation for all two-track movements, which are best achieved when the inner leg of the rider guides the inner hind leg of the horse slightly in the direction of the rider’s outside heel when working on a circle, riding a turn or passing through a corner. This action, known as “enlarging,” will bring the inner hind leg of the horse better underneath the rider and closer to the center of gravity.

bending around garrocha pole

bending around garrocha pole

Without acceptance of the rider’s outside leg, no horse can be truly on the outside rein. It is indeed a wonderful experience to be able to control the entire horse with just a single rein and the seat, of which the outside leg is an extension. Every dressage horse must eventually reach this stage, and the best way to achieve it is through work on the circle. We see here again the interrelationship between the circle as a ring figure and the circle of aids. Forward on the whip, enlarging away from the inner-leg pressure into the outside rein and from there to and through the rider’s seat over the horse’s back and—with half halts—into the horse’s hind legs to complete the circle of aids.

If the use of the whip is misunderstood, so too — among a broad majority of riders—is the application of the legs. Nothing is more detrimental to the training of a horse than legs that constantly kick, push, squeeze or noodle. Not only do such legs kill all sensitivity in a horse’s sides but they also teach a horse to stiffen his belly muscles in order to block against these pushes or kicks. Such tightening in the torso renders all influence by the rider ineffectual.

Credit: Micki Dobson As you hold your hand slightly away from your normal rein position, twist your wrist to the left (in this case) to lift it up, then flex your wrist to bring the whip down, onto your thigh

Credit: Micki Dobson As you hold your hand slightly away from your normal rein position, twist your wrist to the left (in this case) to lift it up, then flex your wrist to bring the whip down, onto your thigh

Which One? How Long?

Whips come in all shapes and sizes. When choosing a whip, find one that fits your hand. Also, look for a length that is appropriate to your build and your horse’s size. If you are a tiny person on a big horse or a person with rather large thighs, you probably need a longer whip. If you are small and riding a small horse you should choose a smaller whip. A “good” whip also stings a bit and bounces well when you flex your wrist and use it against your thigh. So be sure to try several whips before buying. Another aspect to pay attention to is the button or knob at the end of the whip. The button should be large enough that you don’t have to grip it to keep from losing it. When allowed in [USEF] or USDF competitions, the whip cannot be longer than four feet. Editor’s note: Today your whip can be no longer than 47.2 inches (120 cm) including lash.

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This story was first published in the November 1996 issue of Dressage Today. Austrian-born Karl Mikolka was a chief rider with the Spanish Riding School and later coach to the Brazilian Olympic dressage team. He later moved to the United States and worked with the Tempel Lipizzan Stallions in Wadsworth, Illinois.

Dangerous Horse at Mealtime?

Posted on September 30, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: health, history, therapy, training.

Some horses are a threat to both people and other horses at mealtime. Behavior disorders that you may see displayed range from pinning ears back and shaking heads to an all out assault as shown in the statue in the photo above. Animals who cannot be trusted are a serious menace to others around them. If they cannot be rehabilitated quickly, they may end up euthanized. Of course, the larger the animal with dangerous behavior, the more quickly the decision to remove it must be made.

Training methods for correcting defensive eaters abound on the internet.For an intelligent and humane approach we recommend the article: “Re-training the Defensive Eater“.  You can also visit our Equi-TV page for some great training videos this month.

The Military Horse of 1863

Posted on September 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



 

Tribute to those at Little Big Horn

Posted on by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, history, military, riding, training.

Excerpt from the historical pages of QuarterMaster Museum

Water Carrier Ravine – Little Big Horn, Montana 25 June 1876

On 25 June 1876, the 7th Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, engaged the combined Sioux and Cheyenne forces along the banks of the Little Bighorn River in Eastern Montana. The 7th was part of a combined Army campaign to bring the Sioux to the reservations. Approaching the Indian village, Custer divided his command into three battalions; one under Captain Frederick Benteen, who took three companies and Regimental pack trains and maneuvered to the south; one under Major Marcus Reno, who launched a frontal attack against the village from the south. Then the remaining five companies went with Custer, to attack the village from the north. Every man in Custer’s command died. Reno’s attack was repulsed and he, along with Benteen were besieged for two days on the bluffs above the Little Bighorn, besieged by an estimated 3000 warriors.

Major Reno’s command attacked the village as ordered located on the plains in the background. Repulsed, Reno led his men up a ravine, losing a third of his regiment along the way. Joined by Captain Benteen, neither man knew of Custer’s fate but knowing that their own situation was desperate, ordered their men to dig in.  By the second day, the men were suffering from lack of water, especially the wounded. Survivors later described the situation: “..the sun beat down on us and we became so thirsty that it was almost impossible to swallow.”

Quartermaster Medal of Honor Recipients:

Captain Benteen called for volunteers to make an attempt to get to the river. Seventeen volunteered. Four men were selected to provide covering fire including Blacksmith Henry Mechlin and Saddler Sergeant Otto Voit, both Quartermasters. The attempt was successful. Nineteen Medal of Honors were later awarded for heroism at the Little Bighorn. Two of those went to Mechlin and Voit. These two, along with two other sharpshooters, positioned themselves on the bluffs on either side of the ravine to provide covering fire. During this engagement only one trooper was seriously wounded.

The above is a canvas at the Quartermaster Museum,Fort Lee, Virginia


Sergeant Reckless

Posted on September 2, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military, training.
preparing for transport

preparing for transport

Photo: Library of Congress  Sgt Reckless in Korean War

During the Korean War (1950-1953), Sergeant Reckless, a pony sized, 14 hand mare believed to be of Mongolian descent, became famous for her unescorted trips carrying munitions to the front lines. She carried rifles, ammunition and supplies for the Marines as a pack horse, and her commitment and reliability to her work earned her lifelong recognition.

In 1953, during a five-day test known as the Battle of Outpost Vegas the little sorrel mare transported a total of 9,000 pounds of shells. In one day alone she made 50 trips, packing ammunition up the hill and carrying wounded soldiers down. With the exception of the first trip or two, she made these journeys solo, with no human  leading her. The savagery of that battle was legend. “Twenty-eight tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble,” it was written at the time.  The artillery was firing at the rate of 500 rounds per minute!

“Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly ‘no man’s land’ of rice paddies and up the steep 45-degree mountain trails that led to the firing sites,” according to the fan site SgtReckless.com, which goes on to quote Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalling, “It is difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain.”

Lt. Eric Pedersen found the mare at a Korean track where she racing under the name Ah Chim Hai, or Flame-in-the-Morning.  He purchased her for $250. As the story goes, the young boy that owned her, Kim Huk Moon, was reluctant to sell his beloved horse, but wanted the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister, who had stepped on a land mine. Her new name, Reckless,  was derived from a  new weapon, the recoilless rifle anti-tank gun.

Once recruited to the Korean war front her division soon discovered to watch their supplies. She was known to sneak into food bags and devour their contents. In addition to a morning cup of coffee, she loved cake,  Coca Cola, Hershey bars and all candy), and was famous for escaping her pasture and sneaking into tents for a warm night’s sleep. Sgt. Reckless includes among her many military honors two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.  Reckless died in May 1968 at the age of 20 at her home at the Marine Corps’ stables in Camp Pendleton, CA.

reckless2

 

(thanks to the equestrian news)

Working with the Local Sheriff Posse, by Steve Lock

Posted on September 1, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, riding, therapy, training.
learning rescue techniques

learning rescue techniques

When I was younger my focus was mainly in the area of Eventing. Shortly after the 9/11 attack, I joined our local Sheriff’s Mounted Posse. Being involved with the Sheriff’s Posse opened a whole new world for me with horses. I learned a lot more about desensitizing horses. I learned how valuable horses are as a search animal. As you can imagine, they provide a much larger field of view, they cover more ground and move faster, and they will alert you when there is something you need to check out. It may not be the person you are looking for, but then again, it may be. There are people who in recent years have started training horses to air scent, like some dogs do, and with good success. I spent about four years as a Training Officer with the Posse, and one year as President. I experienced many positive things I may never have had the opportunity to experience had I not been a volunteer with the Posse. I would encourage anyone wondering what to do with their horse, looking for something new to do with their horse, or who wants to serve their community to seriously consider joining their local Sheriff Posse if there is one, or if not, joining a Mounted Search and Rescue group. You and your horse will learn many new things, make some wonderful new friends, and have your lives enriched while you have great fun doing it. It is a very satisfying experience.
In addition to the Search and Rescue, as volunteers with the Sheriff’s Posse, we also rode in our local Christmas Parade each year with the Sheriff’s Department component. We patrolled the parking lots at our local county fair each year to deter break-ins and help people find their cars. We sat on our horses at the entry gates of the county fair and let people pet our horses, and answered the many questions they had about the horses and what work we performed. It was great fun for us, and great public relations for the Sheriff’s Department. We participated in Toys for Tots each December. As you may expect, we had training in many areas. A former San Francisco Mounted Policeman and Instructor trained us in friendly crowd control and formation riding. We participated in a four-day Search and Rescue training each year with several other Mounted Search and Rescue units. We learned about living and surviving with our horses in the wilderness. I had the opportunity to participate in a training demonstration put on by a former Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Mounted Officer and Trainer at the Western States Horse Expo two years in a row. All in all, it was a very enriching experience. One I am glad I did not miss out on.

Music of the Peers

Posted on August 18, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, therapy, training.
USEF photo of Stefen Peters & Ravel (2012 Olympic Freestyle)

The dressage industry was one of the last disciplines to add the element of music to competition. The freestyle ride was long debated and denied as a performance class mostly because performance judges feared the option given to riders to create their own programs would initiate a trend toward circus-like presentations. In their opinion, over a period of years, the aberration of dressage movements could leave the classical principles of dressage in the shadows of  history. In the 1970’s, however, came a more immediate threat for the dressage industry: the financial burden of its horse events. Rising costs of stabling, insurance, maintenance of the ring footing, required such an excess of cash that the backing of corporate sponsors was essential. As they came on board, these sponsors began to encourage show organizers to consider more  ‘entertainment’ in the dressage field since it lacked both spectators and public appeal. To them, the musical freestyle seemed to perfectly fit that need.

The United States Dressage Federation and the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) met individually to decide on restrictions to set in place to protect the historical and classical nature of dressage in musical competition. Judging sheets were designed to include technical and creative scores. Freestyle riding forums were set up worldwide in order to publicly define acceptable performance movements and also to somewhat direct the quality of music expected. During the 1980’s, most freestyle riding refrained from extravagance with presentations almost exclusively relying on classical music. In addition, these original musical rides, constrained by rigid adherence to traditional movements, were only modestly artful in scope. Even so, dressage lovers were thrilled with the new classes. While spectators still yawned, the concept of dressage as a living, spontaneous “art form” was now dawning on its devotees. It gained even more momentum the moment it was finally allowed into the Olympic Ring in 1996.

With the new millennium came new riders with fresh ideas. New talent pushed toward the impossible in freestyle riding. No longer did Beethoven and Bach rule the freestyle ring. Hand-picked music picked up the beat with modern tunes. Daring riders heated up the competition through their innovative uses of mandatory movements. Overnight it seemed that empty bleachers became standing-room-only. The new phenomenon of the freestyle dressage class had commenced. Audiences cheered and applauded their favorites in the classes. Sponsors were elated. Judges were thrilled. Spectators left competitions with GPS directions to find the next up-coming freestyle event. Dressage became known as the ‘ballet of horseback riding’. Eager to keep competition classes fully attended, riders were generously rewarded in their scores.

However, some conservatives squirmed. The dark side of freestyle, so long ago feared, was beginning to emerge. Observers who set up alongside warm-up rings chronicled the use of controversial training methods bordering cruelty to defenseless mounts. Not only did Grand Prix riders lack common horsemanship, their brutality was heartily encouraged as the new, productive training method.

So-called ‘Roll-Kur’ technique seen in 2008 Olympic warm-up 

It was the shock wave that blackened the freestyle classes. In the 2008 Olympics the division widened between dressage camps as infuriated classicists revealed the barbarism of the new “Roll Kur”, a training technique that forced the horses to move briskly forward with their heads pulled into their chests, or all the way onto their knees. In addition, they pointed out that the  Individual Dressage Champion of the Olympic Games never performed the required full-stop at halt at any time during the test. Nor did its extravagant leg movement ever co-ordinate with the horse’s torso movement. The pressure of the bit in the horse’s mouth was so severe that it created a ‘blue-tongue’, proving lack of circulation, something never acceptable in correct dressage. It was demanded that the FEI, an organization long considered the protectorate of equestrian sports, meet to resolve the issue before the next Olympics. By the time of the 2012 Olympics,  stringent qualifications, ensuring that horses were more humanely prepared for show events, were put to the test. These corrections are still being evaluated and re-written to improve the public representation of classical dressage within both standard and freestyle Grand Prix classes. It is evident that the state of global dressage will always require keen scrutiny to maintain the classical principles. But the true highlight of the dressage freestyle is its breakout from the obscure timidity of its earlier days. It is finally acknowledged as a beautiful and accomplished art form. It has pranced forward to prove that both quality and musical entertainment are possible in the dressage industry.

Same horse in 2012 Olympics.Corrections to use of bit show a more classical ride

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.

equi-works

equi-works