Californio Vaquero Horse Training in the Old WestThe Californio Vaquero's prided themselves on their horsemanship and horse tack. They took great care too hand braid their horse hair mecates and romel reins. The Vaquero hand braiding techniques are still used today.
The rawhide bosals, riatas and quirts, headstalls, hackamores, are all part of the Vaquero "tool box" to train their horses.
The Vaqueros trained their horses for 7-10 years, starting at 4 years old, to react with very little pressure from the rider. At the end of training, the horse and rider would be one.
The 3 stages of the Vaquero horse training....
The 1st stage - starts with a hackamore bitless braided rawhide headstall to teach the horse to yield to pressure. The reins were long hand braided horse hair mecates.
The 2nd stage - called "Two Rein". The Vaquero would use a thinner simpler version of the hackamore nose piece, the bosal. This bosal was lighter for this part of the stage. The mecate bridle had a spade bit and a braided rawhide romel rein. During this stage of the training the Vaquero would hold both sets of reins and the horse would be controlled with mostly the bosal and light on the bit. Then the Vaquero would transition to only using the bit and would then get rid of the bosal all together.
The 3rd stage- is called the "Straight upon the Bridle". The Vaquero handles the horse with just the spade bit. The Bit is connected with romel reins. The bosal and mecate are used under the bridle to lead the horse.
This extensive training enabled the Vaquero to control the horse with little pressure. The Vaquero's horse was a skilled cattle horse and would be tested....
The Vaquero use to test their horses skills by tying a thread to the links section of the chain part of the romel reins. The Vaquero would then bring the horse to a stop with a "light" pull of the reins. If the thread broke- the Vaquero needed to pull to hard.
Another way to show off their skills.....trying to rope Grizzlies!!!
Can you imagine the horsemanship skills and the communication of the horse and rider to stop and move in an instant to rope a Grizzly!!!!!
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