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Old 04-09-2013, 09:25 PM   #1
Jimmy
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I am getting increasingly frustrated by the new age and re creationist thinking of some groups of Vaquero and Californio enthusiast lately. It reminds me of when I first got interested in dressage training and movements. Some of the riders and trainers I tried to talk to were very close minded to anything but what they did, which was considered very special and esoteric. Kind of reminds me of religion. You must adhere, or your opinion is invalid. There must be no deviation from what is considered the true way. Any influence from any other discipline would just muddy the water, and make it unpure. That is what is happening I feel with the approach to early Califonio purity and deification of the Vaquero's of those days. You must rid yourself of the snaffle, to be a true believer. You must not accept any modern examples or improvement. Indeed, there can not possibly be improvements, because the Vaqueros knew the one and only true art of the stock horse. I am all for passing on good knowledge. That is the point of a tradition. But passing on tradition for the sake of tradition only is pointless. I thought the point of all this was to make a really good broke bridle horse, light and quick on his feet, responsive to just a touch or signal of the rein. There are a lot of ways to achieve this. There are a lot of ways to use a hackamore. It is not up to one mans interpretation. This is 2013. We are not isolated from the rest of the modern world. Horses are different. Saddles are different. I believe there have been improvements, especially in starting young stock. So I just don't get the sanctimonious and holier than thou crap I read about that is turning simple horsemanship into a religion.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:47 PM   #2
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I think you hit it right on the head Jimmy, but there are a few things to think about. I used to feel very similar, I wanted to have an open mind and blend my thinking and the things I learned with the old time vaquero's. The term Californio has always referred to someone who was born in California that was Spanish decent. Back in the mission days there were Spanish born and native born. Vaquero referred to an occupation, I haven't seen in any of the things I have read or the people I talked to that the terms were linked. A Californio could have been a farmer as much as a horseman. The term was used in Mora's and Roja's books. I will never be a "Californio" vaquero because I will never be born in California. There were excellent horsemen back then who would not have been considered "Californio" as well, because of there place of birth and lineage. They sure knew how to put a horse together though, and they did not all do it the same!

That being said, I still feel it is important to keep an open mind and learn what works. Understanding why a vaquero did not use a snaffle helps in the process. Understanding the purpose behind the traditions is what I seek for. I then apply what I can to my horses. Many people look over the fact that the "Dean of Reinsman" Ed Connell and the "Master of Communication" Ray Hunt were great friends. They spent a lot of time together, Ray won a number of hackamore classes yet later in his life rode a lot of horses in the snaffle. One of the reasons why I like this forum is because it isn't narrowly focused, the goal and purpose of it is to get like minded people together to discuss true horsemanship. If that means discussing traditions that is ok, but when we become so isolated that we do not see other horsemen's views (including the horses we ride) we limit our horsemanship.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:23 PM   #3
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Why did the vaquero not use the snaffle??? There are many suppositions, but until SOMEONE comes up with a video/recording of one of those mystical men, we will NEVER REALLY KNOW FOR SURE!!!!

Ed Connell in his Bits & Bridles book specifically states that snaffles are a great tool to use one a broncy horse, and use them with draw reins.

When was the true hey day of the vaquero??? Not in the 1900's when Connell was alive & kicking. It was back in the mid to late 1800's. Most of them did not speak english and didn't care much for the people that did.

There is no ONE way to make a great bridle horse. There are many little things that are similar.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:39 PM   #4
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One of the distinctions that people often cite as a difference between a vaquero and a buckaroo, is that the buckaroo would use the snaffle. There were some pretty dang good buckaroo's that knew how to put a horse together.
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Old 04-11-2013, 04:35 PM   #5
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Now that I have stated what I said, I am also not a fan of the latest trend of the way horses are being ridden in a snaffle these days. The snaffle bit futurity has been the best thing and the worst thing for reined cowhorses. Best for the business, and keeping cow horses alive. Worse for the young horse. An example of what I consider a decline is this: In the mid seventies and eighties, Al Dunning rode a horse called Expensive Hobby. He was a straight up romel reined bridle horse. He wrote a book with Western Horseman magazine called "Reining" I saw a film of one of his dry runs from AQHA. He was phenominal. Don Dodge judged the run and 80! The horse was uphill and high in the poll, right up in the bridle, and straight as an arrow. This was before anybody on the west coast was riding "reiners" No one was showing in split reins. The influence of the California stock horse was still visible. The book was pretty good as it was. The same book has been revised. Now all the young horses are ridden in draw reins. Their heads drop below the withers. They are pushed up into it with the spurs. The body is pushed around with a spur. The advise in the book has totally changed on how a horse should go and be trained. Now AQHA allows every conceivable kind of bit there is. There are still some good hackamore horses, but mostly ridden by the old hands like Benny Guitron and Bobby Ingersol and the like. I think the young horses are over ridden, over bent, and over manipulated....and clinics are taught how to do this.
I also think that that Ray Hunt's "soft feel" has been taken to extremes. Perhaps incorrectly passed down. I think all he was trying to do was get the brace out of horses, and they way people rode them. Get the horse to let down a bit, round up the neck on upside down horses. Now, I see all these clinic horses poking around with their heads buried in the snaffle, and they call it a soft feel. The life gets taken out, so anyone can control them, but people are not learning how to ride a horse with some life! Add to this mess the fad of Clinton Anderson bending and contorting, and the home depot style do-it-yourself clinics on RFDTV, etc. The whole thing is a mess! There has to be something good in the middle somewhere. We don't and cannot go back to the California Mission days. But what we have right now I don't think is headed anywhere either.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:27 PM   #6
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Amen! to that.
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Old 04-11-2013, 09:33 PM   #7
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Well Jimmy, I guess since you brought it up let's talk about it...

The NRCHA came from the CRCHA (California Reined Cowhorse Association) The CRCHA was a regional organization and transitioned into a national organization which is the NRCHA. The original intent of the CRCHA was to allow a venue to work towards the goal of the bridle horse. The logo of the NRCHA explains it's current goals, the snaffle bit futurity has become the cash king. The CRCHA had it's first snaffle bit futurity in 1970, the futurity was an idea that came in large part from Bobby Ingersoll. I won't speak for him but have heard that he is dissapointed in what has become of the event, because it lost it's original intent. An interesting thought on all of this is many people today get frustrated by the amount of things being asked of the 3 year old futurity horses. Yet they are encouraged to start them at clinics across the country at 2. I have heard that Bobby's idea was to create a class for the younger horses that would help the playing field.

Before the futurity came about the stockhorse classes of the CRCHA were hackamore, two-rein, and bridle. They occasionally had two hackamore classes one was two handed for the green horses and the other was one handed. I have heard there were some really great riders in the bridle class, they were the guys who grew up in California and had relatives who lived the traditions. There wasn't as much money in the shows, so often these horses were worked on the ranch as well as in the arena. As time went on the money started to grow and the traditions of "many manana's" began to be pushed for results. Bobby Ingersoll's idea to level the playing field ended up being the focus of the shows, it took over. We now have very specialized horses in the arena, they are very good and incredible at what they do but other than breeding you rarely hear about the good horses after there show career.

There were a number of guys who were frustrated with the direction the shows were going, including Ray Hunt. He walked away from the arena when the futurity came about. I think most of the trainers today would like to put together a finished bridle horse, but the emphasis is on the snaffle bit. It is where the money is currently, it is hard to fault anyone who wants to chase the money. The bridle horse is all about putting less stress on the horse, however there is a lot of stress put on horses, and trainers these days to compete for that money.

I would like to see a shift for the poll to be elevated above the wither in today's shows, I think that would go a long way.
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Old 04-12-2013, 12:06 AM   #8
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Yep, yep, and yep. I guess were both old enough to have seen the change take place.
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Old 04-12-2013, 10:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
Yep, yep, and yep. I guess were both old enough to have seen the change take place.
I am definitely not old enough to have seen the change take place, but I have talked to enough old timers to know what has happened.
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Old 10-27-2013, 06:52 PM   #10
Mares Tales
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A lesson in biomechanics will put people straight and educate them on why the horse should not go behind the vertical or be too low in the poll. A simple explanation is..........the horse loses the abilty to use it`s hindlegs to their full capacity if the nose is too low and in. In classical dressage, the term that riders use is "throughness"; when the horse is functionally balanced with it`s poll above the withers so that the horse can most functionally and loosely step "through" and each segment can participate in the circle of energy.

Think of it as a kink in the hose when the horse goes behind the vertical with its nose near it`s chest and broken too far back behind the poll. The place where there is a kink is a disconnect or blockage.

It`s all about moving in functional balance, so why would anyone want to work against themselves and their horse. Putting aside the fact that mechanically it is counterproductive, the other thing is that horses become cautious and insecure about anything that throws them off balance.
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