Saturday, June 21, 2014

Cowboy Dressage Jeff Wilson

I thought since Buckaroo Leather will be at the Cowboy Dressage Circuit Show #2 happening this weekend, June 20th-22nd at the Murieta Equestrian Center in Murieta Ca. this great article on Cowboy Dressage Gaits by Jeff Wilson would be appropriate!!

By Jeff Wilson
Photos by Lesley Deutsch

 Free Jog

As western riders have begun to embrace dressage for their western horses, they have endured opposition created as a result of the two worlds colliding—the western world and the dressage world. The horse world at large has watched this rise of dressage horsemanship for the western horse with mixed opinions. Without a doubt, the western jog, standing alongside its English counterpart, the trot, as a legitimate dressage gait has been a hotly debated topic. 

One of the biggest misunderstanding here is because a large portion of the horse world, trying to relate to Cowboy Dressage, stumble on the word “dressage.” It is just too easy for folks to come to their own conclusion that western horses should mirror the competitive dressage world. Suddenly, the jog puts them into a quandary because this fun-tastic middle gait does not fit into that dressage world. 

Working Jog

To clear it up, Cowboy Dressage is a western division with western gaits. As soon as you begin to trot and canter, you have left the western division. Trotting and cantering belong in the dressage division. I hate to drawn lines where horsemanship is concerned, but confusion exists because people are trying to plug “dressage in a western saddle” instead of dressage for the western horse.
There is a difference.

Working Lope

An interesting bit of biomechanics to be clear on is that suspension exists only in the trot and canter; the jog and lope do not have suspension. That is a fact. Once you have suspension, you have left the western element. A western horse, developed properly, certainly does need to be able to move forward freely in a pure two beat gait. From this western working jog, developing the ability to move more forward in an opening stride becomes the free jog. In the free jog, the entire frame of the horse levels out and the horse reaches under itself from behind with a longer stride. One of the hallmarks of suppleness in Cowboy Dressage is to be able to shorten and lengthen our horses stride without changing the tempo—without slowing during shortening, and without speeding up during lengthening.

 Working Lope

It is easy for the traditional dressage person to view our western gaits as being underdeveloped and lacking engagement. Conversely, it is easy for the western person to view dressage gaits as being complicated and impractical. The truth of the matter is that the merits of both are often sadly hidden from the views of either side…Regardless, it matters during the test only. 
Cowboy dressage is about having fun with your horse, and recognizing the “try” of horse and rider. It is not about attempting to make competitive dressage horses out of our western horses!

If you want to learn more about what Jeff talked about here, or you have a question you would like to ask, you can reach him at:

 Jeff has been training horses for over 30 years and values the western horse lifestyle in his approach to training. He gives clinics and seminars on how to reach your full potential with your horse through the training foundation of Cowboy Dressage.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Disneyland The happiest Place on Earth…Even for the Horses

“If there’s anything to this reincarnation stuff, I’d like to come back to Disneyland as a horse someday!”…this is a quote from an officer from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals who had just finished an inspection at Disneyland. (taken from the Western Horseman magazine)

While cleaning out a closet, I came across some old Western Horseman magazines and one in particular caught my eye. It was the issue from September 1957. There was a fascinating article about the horses at Disneyland.

I took a few photos of some of the pictures in the article and decided to write a quick blog about them. The stagecoach (pictured below) was one of many ways a visitor could ride around the Rainbow Desert in Frontier Land. 

camera shot of the picture in the Western Horseman Magazine

They could also choose to ride a Conestoga Wagon or the pack mule train. (below)

camera shot of the picture in the Western Horseman Magazine

In 1957 Disneyland maintained about 200 head of horses. The horses and the ponies were kept in individual toe stalls. The mules and burros had their own corrals and lots. The animals at Disneyland worked no more than 4 hours a day six days a week.

 Walt Disney and Horse on Main Street, 1957

Disneyland also had a full time Farrier by the name of Charles Heumphreus on hand. To oversee the horse operations, Disney hired Mr and Mrs Owen Pope. They manufactured and repaired all the harnesses and horse tack for the horses. Owen was widely known for trailers he manufactured in Ft. Worth.

This is a great photo (below) of the horses all dressed up for the Easter Parade. Disneyland ordered 10 new Easter bonnets especially made for the horses at a total cost of $150.

camera shot of the photo in the Western Horseman

In this photo (below) Guy Williams can be seen riding his horse near the entrance to Frontier Land. How exciting to see Zorro at Disneyland!!!

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the 
Western Horseman the safest most durable 
Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand 
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Monday, June 9, 2014

America's First Cowgirl..Lucille Mulhall

Equally skilled with rifle, lariat and horse, a teenager from Oklahoma named Lucille Mulhall became America’s first cowgirl. 

Lucille Mulhall was born on October 21, 1885, in St. Louis, Missouri to Colonel Zack and Agnes Mulhall. Lucille Mulhall has been given many different titles. Rodeo Queen, Queen of the Western Prairie, Queen of the Saddle, American's Greatest Horse Woman. But there is no doubt that she was American's First Cowgirl.

Will Rogers wrote that Lucille's achievement in competition with cowboys was the 'direct start of what has since come to be known as the Cowgirl'. He continued to write, “there was no such a word up to then as Cowgirl”.  Lucille beat dozens of cowboys in a 1904 cattle-roping competition, she set world records.

Native American tribes still roamed the open grassland of the Mulhall Ranch when Lucille was growing up. Wolves prowled the prairie, preying on the Mulhall livestock. Cowhands were a vital part of ranching; roping, branding, round-ups and shooting were practical skills instead of pastimes. The little blonde girl with blue-gray eyes was an eager student for the ranch hands and cowboys who lived in the bunkhouses of the Mulhall spread. 

Lucille, instead of learning piano or sewing like her sisters, learned to toss a lariat and tie a steer. Lucille learned her horsemanship and skills from the Cowboys who rode the cattle drives of the Old West.

Lucille Mulhall was a cowgirl long before she entertained crowds with feats of horsemanship on Governor, her trained horse. By the age of 7, she was riding around her father’s 80,000-acre ranch. Cowboys who rode the plains of the Indian Territories tutored her in the art of lassoing. 

Zack Mulhall claimed that when his daughter was 13, he told her she could keep as many of his steers as she could rope in one day. Lucille, he bragged, didn’t quit until she lassoed more than 300 cattle! "By the age of fourteen,” the New York Times reported, "She could break a bronco and shoot a coyote at 500 yards.” Teddy Roosevelt was among Lucille’s fans. 

While campaigning in Oklahoma as a vice presidential candidate in 1900, Roosevelt first saw the blonde teenager perform. It was the Fourth of July, and Lucille roped in front of a crowd of 25,000 people at a "Cowboy Tournament.” The Daily Oklahoman reported, "Roosevelt was most enchanted with the daring feats of Lucille Mulhall.” "She rode beautifully throughout the contest and lassoed the wildest steer in the field.”

Teddy Roosevelt was so dazzled by the 14-year-old’s skills that he invited the Mulhalls to join him and a select group of Rough Rider veterans at a private dinner. That night Lucille gave the hero of the charge up San Juan Hill the silk scarf she had worn during the Cowboy Tournament.

When Zack Mulhall reciprocated the dinner invitation by asking Roosevelt to stay at his ranch, Teddy readily accepted. After watching Lucille’s daredevil antics on the ranch, Roosevelt encouraged her father to get her more exposure. "Zack, before the girl dies or gets married or cuts up some other caper,” Roosevelt reportedly said, "you ought to put her on the stage and let the world see what she can do.” 

During that same visit, Roosevelt spent time in the saddle riding alongside Lucille. He saw a gray wolf at a distance, which whetted his appetite for the hunt. The wolf eluded Roosevelt that day, but it didn’t escape Lucille. After Roosevelt left, she hunted down the predator. By one account, she dispatched it with a shot from her Winchester, but in another version she lassoed the creature and clubbed it to death. The pelt was sent to Roosevelt, who displayed it in the White House after he and McKinley won the presidential election that fall. Roosevelt later gave Lucille a saddle and an 1873 Winchester .44-40 that had been presented to him.

Lucille Mulhall, was the first well known cowgirl. She competed with 'real' cowboys - the range hardened cowboys accustomed to riding for days in the saddle; the cowboys who spent many hours branding cattle. Her expert roping skills were a natural talent honed by the skills of another natural roper - Will Rogers. She not only was an expert at using the lariat but she had a natural gift of working with horses. She trained horses to respond to the roping of a steer as well as how to perform a number of what she called 'tricks.' Her trained horses she called 'high schooled horses' and one was particularly famous: "Governor."

She claimed her horse, Governor, knew at least forty tricks. He could pull off a man's coat and put it on again, could walk upstairs and down again, a difficult feat. He could sit with his forelegs crossed, could lie down and do just about everything but talk.

In 1904 Lucille competed against the best cowhands from across the Southwest in a roping contest at Dennison, Texas. In this competition she won a belt buckle, declaring her to be the World's Champion Lady Roper. She won three solid gold medals in Texas for steer roping, a trophy for winning a Cutting Horse contest as well as many other medals, trophies and honors. At the turn of the twentieth century Lucille Mulhall was American's greatest cowgirl.

While still in her early teens, Lucille was the top cowboy performer in the West. Extremely feminine, soft-spoken, and well educated, she seemed a paradox, for she was so steel-muscled she could beat strong and talented men at their own games. She could have been a society belle, but she loved the rough, dangerous life of a cowboy. Had she been a man, she would have been content to work on a ranch, but as a woman she was a novelty and the only way she could make use of her singular talents was in show business. 

The term cowgirl was invented to describe her when she took the East by storm in her first appearance at Madison Square Garden (in 1905). "Against these bronzed and war-scarred veterans of the plains, a delicately featured blonde girl appeared,” a 1905 New York Times profile intoned. "Slight of figure, refined and neat in appearance, attired in a becoming riding habit for hard riding, wearing a picturesque Mexican sombrero and holding in one hand a lariat of the finest cowhide, Lucille Mulhall comes forward to show what an eighteen-year-old girl can do in roping steers.”
In 3 minutes and 36 seconds, she lassoed and tied three steers. "The veteran cowboys did their best to beat it,” the New York Times reported, "but their best was several seconds slower than the girl’s record-breaking time. 

The cowboys and plainsmen who were gathered in large numbers to witness the contest broke into tremendous applause when the championship gold medal was awarded to the slight, pale-faced girl, and from that day to this Miss Mulhall has been known far and wide throughout the West as the Queen of the Range.”

Lucille had set a new world record. She won a gold medal and a $10,000 prize. Just as she had dazzled Teddy Roosevelt, Lucille now entranced journalists. Newspapers showered her with titles like "Daring Beauty of the Plains” and "Deadshot Girl,” but the one that stuck was "Original Cowgirl.”

Lucille’s career took her to Europe, where she performed for heads of state and royalty. She officially retired in 1917 at age 32. Live Wild West performances were being eclipsed by the rise of Hollywood westerns. Ironically, many of the stars of silent movies, including "King of the Cowboys” Tom Mix, got their start in Zack Mulhall’s Congress of Rough Riders. But as late as the 1930s, Lucille still did exhibition riding on the Mulhall Ranch.

Throughout her life, Lucille remained captivated by show business and more loyal to her father than to any other man. Her two marriages ended in divorce, and she rarely saw her son, born in 1909, because she was always on tour. Though Lucille was a top draw at Wild West shows and had run her own company, "Lucille Mulhall's Round-up," many people considered her an ineffective wife and mother because she had never learned to do "woman's work."

Although Wild West shows became less popular and less financially viable starting in the mid 1910s, Lucille and her brother Charley continued to perform in them through the 1930s. Show attendance dwindled, as did the number of performers. Despite the lack of publicity being given to wild west shows in the shadow of the polio epidemic, the United States' entry into World War I, and then the Great Depression, Lucille seemed unable to pull herself away from the limelight. She made her last known public appearance in September of 1940.

Lucille went back to work at her families ranch, which was located fourteen miles north of Guthrie, Oklahoma, on highway 77. The Mulhall ranch at one time encompassed 80,000 acres of land, much of which was unclaimed land. In addition some land was leased. The original ranch began with 160 acres claimed at the 1889 Oklahoma Land Opening. 

The Mulhall family operated their show and cattle business from this ranch and had many visitors. Some of their famous visitors were President Theodore Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Tom Mix and even the outlaw Henry Starr. Geronimo also was an admirer of Lucille's talent and gave her a beaded vest and a decorated Indian bow.

Lucille Mulhall died less than a mile from the Mulhall Ranch in an automobile accident on December 21, 1940. She was only 55 years old. In December 1975, she was posthumously inducted into the National Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the 
Western Horseman the safest most durable 
Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand 
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