Since it took me about 45 minutes to even get this far on this dang blogging thing I don't know how successful this is going to be but I thought it would be helpful to attempt to journal my horsemanship progression. We'll see! After I type this one in I may never be able to find the dang thing again!
About a year ago I had a major horsemanship "meltdown" for lack of a better word. I had been faithfully following a very popular natural horsemanship trainer (that shall remain unnamed and may further be referred to as He Who Must Not Be Named ;) ) when I got a peak behind the curtain so to speak. I realized that though what I had been doing and accomplishing with my horses was pretty good and a step above where I had been previously, it may not be as good or as soft and light as what I thought I was working towards. So, I started hunting a different way.
Maybe I should back up a step and tell you what I do with my horses. I ride Morgans. Exclusively. Some may say I'm a bit of a breed snob. I'm good with that. Why ride anything other than the best after all? I've dabbled a little bit into all kinds of things with my Morgans, thoroughly embracing the versitility of my chosen breed. Because I ride Morgans I feel they and I should be able to do anything. I've done Western Pleasure, Hunter Pleasure, Saddleseat, barrel racing, jumping, trail riding, a tiny bit of dressage both english and the new western style, and a little bit of basic roping and working cattle and reining. I love to try new things with my horses and it seems to help keep them fresh. You might say that I am a doer of all, master of none! So, I don't have specific goals for my horses other than to be soft, light and responsive and willing to try new things.
So, when I realized that the things I had been doing and the path of training I had been on was no longer a good fit for me I was a bit lost. I was in the middle of training my newly started Morgan and was about to start another one. I needed a plan and a method of working with the horses that would both keep me safe and help my horses to build trust and try and establish a foundation for a good usable horse.
Luckily I married a man that is much smarter than I am and he had already found the style and methodology that I was looking for. We turned to the original "Father" of natural horsemanship and those that have cultivated his teachings and way with being with horses. What is now often referred to as the Ray Hunt style of horsemanship takes in a wide range of different folks and different styles all using the same basic tools and means of communicating with their horses. This also led us to discover the vaquero tradition of starting bridle horses.
What an amazing tradition of horsemanship. So many things to learn and discover and teach your horse. It's an entirely different way of thinking compared to modern horsemanship that has a time frame and set of rules. There are no rules in vaquero horsemanship other than the horse comes first. It's an incredibly slow process, especially compaired to what you see out there on the national show circuits. While it is an incredibly difficult thing to sum up, I will do my best to do so here. It is my intent to document my journey down this path and the hurdles and difficulties that I have encountered to maybe encourage others to explore this style of riding with their horses. Be forwarned, though. There is no DVD package to help you get started. You won't find "The Complete Guide to Vaquero Horsemanship" at Amazon.com. This journey is a quest. It's a personal quest for softness between you and your horse. You have to feel your way along and learn through trial and error. While there are great horseman out there still knowledgable in how this is done, you won't find them by doing a google search.
So straighten up your kack, pull your hat down tight and come along on this journey with me if you feel so inclined. Like the Morgan horse, this style isn't for everybody, but I think everybody can learn from the deeply ingrained traditions and way of thinking.