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What to expect from a Buck Brannaman clinic? UPDATE p. 9!

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  • Originally posted by TBPONY View Post
    Can someone explain what exactly a bridle horse is?
    A bridle bit is really anything in the leverage or signal categories of bits (grazing bit, curb, spade, half-breed etc). While often used prematurely, they're intended for "finished" horses, or horses getting up in their training.

    A bridle horse, however, is a term reserved for horses very far along in their training. Moreso then just having a good handle on them, they can work a cow, will be an equal partner if one needs to get roped and held, and will be useful for any task on the ranch.

    When a horse goes through the traditional progression of hackamore, two-rein (hackamore + bridle bit) and is ready to be ridden with just the bit itself, it's said to be "straight up in the bridle". If you ever see a mature horse in a bridle bit wearing an alamar knot around it's neck, this is why the rider has done so.

    Now getting back to the fact that you see 2 yr olds in curb bits nowadays, there's a saying floating around that "there are lots of horses ridden in the bridle, but VERY few bridle horses". That's basically saying that you can hang a bridle bit on any horse, but few have really earned the right to do so according to the old ways. Most people I respect quote something in the order of 4-7 yrs before the horse is ready for this honor.

    Originally posted by TBPONY View Post
    I've not heard that term before until reading this thread. I also know nothing about spades or bosalitas.
    Hackamore = bosal (noseband) + hanger + mecate (hair rope)

    Hackamore with 5/8" bosal (bosal= bar 3/4"-1/2" diameter):
    http://www.easphotography.com/Tindur/Bosal.JPG

    Hackamore with center-hung 3/8" bosalita (bosalita = bar < 1/2" diameter):
    http://www.easphotography.com/Tindur/TindurBosalita.jpg

    Spade bridle (bit with spoon + braces, Haener-made):
    http://www.easphotography.com/Tindur/SpadeBridle2.jpeg

    Two-rein step of hackamore+bit (should have rawhide reins...I had just finished the headstall but hadn't got the reins in yet):
    http://www.easphotography.com/Tindur...idleTindur.jpg

    Originally posted by TBPONY View Post
    On topic:
    I'll defer to the OP, but talking about this stuff is quite on topic. Buck does so extensively in his clinics, so knowing the terms will be beneficial to anyone who goes.

    Originally posted by TBPONY View Post
    I'm curious to try his DVD set but I'm not sure if the rope exercises would be clearly explained or not. I'm more of a "show me in person and then I'll try to copy it" kind of learner.
    He has a 3-disc set devoted specifically to roping, and his colt-starting tapes go over rope work on the starting end. Not sure the 7-disc set goes into this much, from what I can recall.

    Comment


    • rope handling

      I think there's some confusion here about what is meant by "rope handling". There's the skill of using a lass-rope or lariat or roping coil, or whatever you want to call it. Buck has done this since he was a child and it's second nature to him, so he uses a lass rope a lot when working in the round pen as well as mounted, for cow work. It is an integrated element of making a finished horse in his view.

      But not everyone has to become that handy with a lass rope to be a good horseman.

      When some people talk about rope handling, they're just talking about being handy with a 10' or 12' rope on a rope halter, for groundwork. Well, you say, everyone knows how to hand a leadrope. Yes and no--when you start doing some of the groundwork that is so important in this horsemanship, you quickly realize there's more to it than you thought, and you start to appreciate a good rope with body and feel and life so that you don't end up strangling yourself with it. You DO have to learn how to handle this rope so that what you do with it becomes instinctive and you can concentrate on what your horse is doing. That kind of rope handling you can't really escape from, and you can't do it well with just any old leadrope and no practice.

      A lot of what Buck does in the roundpen with a lass rope can be done by the rest of us mere mortals with a flag. Much easier to learn, and in most cases, effective enough. It is not necessary to be skilled or even competent with a lass rope to be useful in this horsemanship.

      One of my horses is in the two-rein, and I've never roped or held a cow with him (mostly for lack of opportunity; certainly not for lack of interest on my part). When he's finished, he will not be a "bridle horse" in the sense that aktill describes above. He will be, if you will, a Fat Old Lady's Vaquero Tradition Bridle Horse--something quite less than a working cowboy's Vaquero Tradition Bridle Horse. But that takes nothing away from the tremendous strides that my horsemanship has made as a consequence of being a student of Buck Brannaman.
      "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

      Spay and neuter. Please.

      Comment


      • microbovine,

        You might be confused by seeing the movie Buck. You actually do not have to have any roping skills to use these methods. Buck uses his rope in the movie Buck on some horses that he needs to work from his horse, but you won't need to do that. You can do everything he teaches in his horsemanship classes with zero roping skills. You do need to be able to keep your lead rope organized, and if you decide to rope your horse's feet, you should have the right type of rope and honda, and be able to keep your rope organized. Buck even addresses this in (I think) the 7 Clinics video. He says something to the effect that people always tell him that they are not ropers and a rope intimidates them, yet they use the most dangerous rope of all on a regular basis; the longe line. He goes on to add that you do not need roping skills to practice his methods.

        My roping skills are pretty pathetic, and I have worked all of my horses with a rope around their necks, have roped their flanks, and have roped all four feet. If you can't throw a rope well, you can just lead or back your horse into the loop. I think Buck shows this in his Groundwork video. You do need to keep your rope organized when you work with a longer rope though, so I would practice a lot without the horse. Get handy coiling it, uncoiling it, figure out how it lays and how it moves and responds, keep your coils uniform and orderly, practice having the loop of your rope on something and play out slack then take it up again. It's not as hard as you think, and it's another tool to have in your bag when you need it. Another cool thing you can do with a rope is use it to desensitize your horse. I rattle mine and slap it on my leg to get my horse used to the sound and I rub my horse with it to get him used to the feel of it. I also get my horses used to having it thrown from their backs and then drag the rope to me. You need to progress slowly and make sure you have your horse comfortable with each step of the process, but it's a great tool and really fun.

        Its my goal to someday be good enough to rope at a branding and be useful enough to be invited back.

        Comment


        • He will be, if you will, a Fat Old Lady's Vaquero Tradition Bridle Horse--something quite less than a working cowboy's Vaquero Tradition Bridle Horse. But that takes nothing away from the tremendous strides that my horsemanship has made as a consequence of being a student of Buck Brannaman.
          Love this!

          Comment


          • aktill - Nice explanation and great photos! Is that your horse? What breed is he/she?

            Comment


            • The right lead rope makes all the difference! My brother-in-law makes the good rope halters and leads that a lot of the clinicians use and so we're lucky enough to have a good supply. I can remember BIL waving 10 foot sections of different lead rope material to get just the right "feel" and weight in the hand for the rope work. The halters too, not just any old rope halter.

              An old rancher lady I knew said they started all their colts in the bosal (at three or four) and kept them there until they were five so they didn't have a bit in the mouth of the horses while their teeth were coming in and getting sorted.
              “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

              Comment


              • AGREE on the right rope with the right feel. I encounter people who have made a long lead rope out of something from Lowe's and it's worse than a limp you know what. You know, a noodle.

                So you do need to be a rope snob but not a roper.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                  Thank you for explaining that so well! I’ve read that the generally accepted “traditional” California progression actually skips the snaffle altogether. Interesting how different horsemen adapt their methods to what they find works best for them – especially since they are typically making horses for a purpose and a job in a real world environment.
                  The snaffle in the progression is a point of SERIOUS contention for a lot of people Some will go to great lengths to find archaic references to snaffles, others refuse to even contemplate the option. To each their own, I'm not too fussed.

                  Rather then relying strictly on someone's definition of tradition, I find it more useful to work with the tools that fit my own understanding and abilities the best. That said, there is an incredible amount of pride involved in making a bridle horse; much more then I anticipipated. I've gone from a tack minimalist in my dressage days to a bit of a shadow rider now...classy, old-style silver is very addictive!

                  Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                  I’ve noticed that the overall look of bridle horses differed from one horseman to the next, and although some looked similar, there was a difference in shape and how the energy flowed through the horse (for lack of a better description). I always wondered what this was, and I think maybe that was what I was seeing.
                  Everyone has their own take on things, and so everyone creates a different horse.

                  Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                  Really interesting! I think I understand what you mean when you say the snaffle is "dead" feeling. I had an opportunity to ride a nice hackamore horse my friend has. Although I had no idea how to work the horse, and it kind of terrified me because I didn't want to take away training on my friend's nice horse, it was an incredible experience. His horse was light and soft and it was worlds different than riding in a snaffle. After that I really wanted to learn how to make a good hackamore horse.
                  That would have been a nice glimpse down the road! Hold onto that feel in your mind if you can. Lots of people can get the "light" part, but few can get light AND soft together.

                  Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                  Like a dressage horse learning to work “through” as opposed to just compressing the front end or hinging at the poll?
                  Exactly so.


                  Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                  I never thought of this. So, you work your young horses on the ground with the snaffle or sidepull before your first ride? And is your first ride is with a sidepull or hackamore?
                  The sidepull has a more defined lateral element, so it's the easier choice for youngsters. Either works, however.

                  Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                  I was talking about a rope halter for the first ride then transitioning to the hackamore or snaffle for the next ride. I started my colt in a rope halter since he had the biggest wolf teeth I’d ever seen extracted just before I was going to start him under saddle. I waited a week, but didn’t want to put a bit in his mouth at that point so we rode in a rope halter for about six rides. I agree that the rope halter does slip around a lot and wasn’t the clearest cue for flexing laterally, but it was all I had at the time. Lucky for me he’s a pretty gentle, good-natured colt so we got along fine.
                  Go with what works! Nothing wrong with what you've described. I just can't relate to the folks who christen the halter the "natural hackamore" and then ride that for years and years.

                  Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                  I think it must be as hard to make a good snaffle horse as it is to make a good bosal horse since I’ve come across very few really good snaffle horses who work properly. I come from a classical dressage background and used to work for a trainer who’s stable was right next to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. He was an incredibly gifted horseman and had the lightest, liveliest, happiest horse I ever rode. In the evenings, I would go over to the LAEC and watch the dressage horses with the big name competitors …and cringe. If the horse wasn’t dragging the rider around the arena, it was rearing or flipping over backwards. The dragging horses were the snaffle horses, the rearing and flipping over backwards horses were the double bridle horses. I did see quite a few horses who were so calloused in the mouth that they could drag their riders around in a double bridle too. No one looked happy and no one was having fun. It was a learning experience for me because it showed me what I never wanted to do to, and never wanted to be.
                  I can relate entirely to what you've seen, sadly. Nothing quite as depressing as working as a ring steward or something of the sort at a modern dressage competition...especially in light of what's possible with a little thought.

                  Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                  Thank you so much for all the information! I truly appreciate it. I am unfortunately at a loss for dressage instruction right now since there is no one in my area who I would like to take lessons from. There are a few dressage trainers here, but they are not teaching what I want to learn. The same holds true for bridlemen/women. There are none here that do what I want to do. There are lots of cattle ranches and lots of cowboys, but none that follow a path I’d like to take. I do try to clinic as much as possible though.
                  While there's value in knowing what you don't want, it's also easy to subconciously absorb it if you spend too much time around it. Better to have to travel to a good clinic or instructor once in a while then get steady lessons guiding you along the wrong path.

                  Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                  And I think that’s what draws me to this type of horsemanship – the similarity to classical dressage. Their principles and goals are so closely aligned that it makes sense to me.
                  Moreso then just being similar, what hooked me was that vaquero horsemanhip is like dressage with a purpose. You go to one hand to free the other to do a job. You learn to leg yield to be able to press off a cow to give him space to settle. You teach your horse to sit so he can roll back over his hocks to follow a twitchy critter. And if you lose the cow, it's more effective then any dressage test sheet at letting you know where you need to improve!

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
                    Martin Black is a treasure.
                    Glad to hear that! He's coming to Alberta this fall, and I've signed up to do a cow working class with him. Looking forward to it!

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                      Love this!
                      Agreed! While I'm working to improve the situation, for as many times as I hang a rope off my saddle few would ever accuse me of knowing what to do with it Not required in the least to get the horsemanship side well along however.

                      Originally posted by Teddyi View Post
                      Is that your horse? What breed is he/she?
                      Yep, that would be Tindur. He's Icelandic, and surprisingly cowy considering the breed isn't exactly selected for that trait. Doesn't give up much in stoutness to a foudnation-type QH of similar size, just a lot harder to fit a saddle to!

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by aktill View Post
                        I can relate entirely to what you've seen, sadly. Nothing quite as depressing as working as a ring steward or something of the sort at a modern dressage competition...especially in light of what's possible with a little thought.
                        Moreso then just being similar, what hooked me was that vaquero horsemanhip is like dressage with a purpose. You go to one hand to free the other to do a job. You learn to leg yield to be able to press off a cow to give him space to settle. You teach your horse to sit so he can roll back over his hocks to follow a twitchy critter. And if you lose the cow, it's more effective then any dressage test sheet at letting you know where you need to improve!
                        Agree with both of these (well, actually aktill hasn't said anything yet that I disagree with ).

                        The other thing about the work having a purpose is the difference that it makes to the horse. Once they see that it has a purpose, they're much more willing to participate in it. I think that's an important element in confirming the lightness--that the horse appreciate not just the comfort of lightness, but the need for it, in order for him to be able to do his job, and the rider to be able to stay out of his way. Riding with lightness does not dictate to the horse; it offers him a task and trusts him to finish the job with athleticism, balance and effectiveness.
                        "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                        Spay and neuter. Please.

                        Comment


                        • Thanks for the information. I use a stiff lariat on our cattle but it certainly wouldn't be appropriate for horses. Next time I go back home to Colorado for a visit, I will look at other types of ropes. I know the perfect place to look.
                          “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                          St. Padre Pio

                          Comment


                          • Rather then relying strictly on someone's definition of tradition, I find it more useful to work with the tools that fit my own understanding and abilities the best. That said, there is an incredible amount of pride involved in making a bridle horse; much more then I anticipipated.
                            You’ve got me thinking that I may continue my colt’s education in a hackamore instead of going to a snaffle. He’s had the winter off, but once the snow and ice melts a little more I might give him a try in the hackamore. Will do lots of research beforehand. Feel free to let me know if you think this is a bad idea.

                            I've gone from a tack minimalist in my dressage days to a bit of a shadow rider now...classy, old-style silver is very addictive!
                            I can completely relate to this!! I noticed you have some really nice silver on your horse’s bridle and breast collar. It’s beautiful. I bought a simple, but nice headstall with – for the first time in my life – silver conchos on the browband. And I’m thinking I need more. I’m partial to the old style silver too, and have started saving up for my horse’s bits, bridles and of course silver. Also on a wait list for a mane hair mecate, and have a new saddle being made this spring. The list goes on and on….

                            That would have been a nice glimpse down the road! Hold onto that feel in your mind if you can. Lots of people can get the "light" part, but few can get light AND soft together.
                            I think about how nice that horse was on a daily basis! He was just so nice to ride and work with. It was especially fun because we were gathering cows for one of the local ranches that was shipping their sale animals. I got a chance to ride through streams and chase cows out of the willows. It was too much fun. It was so effortless. He was such a nice horse and so well-educated that he just about read my mind. I don’t think I ever had to do much more than think and he was right there with me.

                            While there's value in knowing what you don't want, it's also easy to subconciously absorb it if you spend too much time around it. Better to have to travel to a good clinic or instructor once in a while then get steady lessons guiding you along the wrong path.
                            Agree 100%. I hope to clinic with Martin Black, Peter Campbell and maybe Clay Wright since he’s close to me. I would probably audit before I signed up to ride so I know what each clinician is like and what their teaching methods are. I’m also riding my colt in a Buck Brannaman colt starting clinic this summer.

                            Moreso then just being similar, what hooked me was that vaquero horsemanhip is like dressage with a purpose. You go to one hand to free the other to do a job. You learn to leg yield to be able to press off a cow to give him space to settle. You teach your horse to sit so he can roll back over his hocks to follow a twitchy critter. And if you lose the cow, it's more effective then any dressage test sheet at letting you know where you need to improve!
                            Well said! I agree completely. I think having a purpose and a job makes both the rider and the horse more invested in what they’re doing. And when I have a job to do on horseback, I tend to ride much better. I think a lot of it is getting out of my own head and riding by feel. I tend to over think things and that can really throw a wrench in things.

                            Funny story; a year or two ago I was looking for a pony horse for my colt. I was having a really hard time finding anything suitable so my friend tells me she found a horse I can have for free if I want him. Now this should have been the first red flag, but being trusting and maybe not too bright I said, “Sure!”. She tells me the only stipulation is that I have to try him out at the ranch and I have to help gather and push cattle on him. Red flag number 2 there. I said, “Sure!”. The story went that this horse was a high school girl’s horse and she was going away to boarding school and her father didn’t want to keep the horse. No problem, right? That morning I get to the ranch well before sunrise. Everyone is getting their horses saddled and powering down the last of their coffee and donuts. I go to get my horse ready and he’s standing tied to my friend’s trailer. The first thing I see in the dark is the white of his eyes – and a lot of it. His head is up the air, he’s bug-eyed and stomping around and screaming. No problem. Then the ranch boss tells me he only has a mechanical hackamore for me to ride this horse with and puts it on. Ugh...great. I borrow a saddle from my friend and away we go. Right from the start this horse is about turned inside out. His back is alternately humpy then hollow, his head is on upside down and his ears are practically up my nose. He is going every which way at once and feels like maybe the only reason nothing terrible has happened yet is because he can’t decide whether to run away with me, buck me off, of flip over backwards. We’re cantering sideways, forward, backward and diagonally all at the same time. I try my best to make him forget I’m on his back, but I’m pretty sure he’s just waiting to dump me in the river by the willows far, far away from where we started. Just about the time I’m plotting ways to steal my friend’s horse after my horse bucks me off and make her walk back, we get to the river. It’s all smooth river rock and fast running shallow water with willows and brush along the banks. Now, I am certain I will be dumped in the water and impaled on a willow branch. But this horse surprises me and he actually stops jigging and freaking out and carefully watches where he’s going. He picks a safe path through the rocks and brush and gets us through there with no problem. Next we get to a large open meadow and the cattle are scattered everywhere. He looks at the cows and I’m thinking he’s probably going to lose it here. Nope, he pricks his ears up and looks interested! Our job was to gather and hold this bunch. I see some of the cows break for the trees and I'm closest to them so I thought, “what the heck, let’s see what he thinks…”. He and I go off chasing and gathering those cows like he was a pro. We held that bunch and then got home safely. Now everyone told me he had never seen cows before, but I think since we both had a job to do, we started to click. I wasn’t over thinking things and he wasn’t looking for monsters. That horse was actually kind of fun to ride after we got past the whole losing his mind part. As we were walking back, the ranch owner rode up to me and said, “Is that Doc?!” When I told her it was, she said, “Oh my! Big John tried to ride him last week and he just bucked, and bucked and bucked. I’ve never seen a horse buck that hard!” Apparently, this horse had been sold or given to several of the dude ranches in the area and he was booted off all of them because none of their wranglers could ride him. FYI, Big John is no slouch on a horse so I am happy I got none of what he got. I would have ended up on the ground. I was tempted, but didn't have the time or inclination to put the foundation on old Doc that would have helped him be a nicer horse to ride. So I passed on keeping him. What that experience did though, was underscore the value of a horse and rider having a job to do together.

                            Thanks again for your time and help. Such great information and very much appreciated!!

                            Comment


                            • I was going to guess Icelandic!! He's very handsome!

                              Comment


                              • You will really like Martin Black. He is a great horseman. Audited one of this clinics last Fall near Chicago. He is coming back in May, will be the 5 day w/cattle. I was going to ride in it, but my horse is healing from a tear in a ligament. So, I am gonna audit it again. Several of my friends will be riding in it tho. Should be a really good time!

                                I have audited a Buck Clinic. I did enjoy it. I would ride w/Buck if I ever got the chance, after the movie, I doubt I will get the chance. I would agree, as w/most clinics, go w/an open mind and pay attention. ASK if you have any questions.

                                From what I saw, Buck was very nice to whoever came up and ASKED him questions. He did not offer too many people unprovoked help, so dont be bashful
                                Riding is NOT meant as an inside sport, GET out of that arena!!!

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                                • Original Poster

                                  Moreso then just being similar, what hooked me was that vaquero horsemanhip is like dressage with a purpose. You go to one hand to free the other to do a job. You learn to leg yield to be able to press off a cow to give him space to settle. You teach your horse to sit so he can roll back over his hocks to follow a twitchy critter. And if you lose the cow, it's more effective then any dressage test sheet at letting you know where you need to improve!
                                  This is so true - the times I have ridden "with a purpose," so to speak, I have felt like my horse is more responsive and I don't think so much and get in my own way...like when we were moving cows once, or when I was playing with my longe whip and pretending it was a garrocha.

                                  I'm happy to have this discussion of bits and bridles and bridle horses, as I really know nothing about it but find it very interesting! I've really been tempted to get more into western and doma vaquera, but I just don't feel comfortable riding in a western saddle the way I do in an english saddle.
                                  "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

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                                  • aktill, thank you for the very detailed explanation including links to photos regarding bridle horses and equipment used! It was very helpful and I am grateful that you took the time to write such a well-written reply. Your horse is beautiful, BTW

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                                    • OK, I'm more than a little late to this party and I really hope that I'm not hijacking too much by asking this question and I also ask forgiveness for any ignorance I'm showing here! I haven't a prayer of attending a Buck clinic anytime soon, but I'd love to learn more about his methods and try incorporating them into work with my horse. My gelding can be very pushy and likes to constantly test his handlers, his riders, etc. and is more of a "no" horse vs. a "yes" horse, if that makes sense. He's quiet, though, and a nice horse - I just know that there is more I could be doing to help make our partnership better and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I thought that maybe I could look into Buck's DVDs to help us, but I really can't afford to go out and buy the whole set. So I was wondering if someone had a suggestions as to where I should start? I'm guessing the groundwork video? I don't have access to a round pen, so will that make a difference?
                                      "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."

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                                      • Originally posted by see u at x View Post
                                        OK, I'm more than a little late to this party and I really hope that I'm not hijacking too much by asking this question and I also ask forgiveness for any ignorance I'm showing here! I haven't a prayer of attending a Buck clinic anytime soon, but I'd love to learn more about his methods and try incorporating them into work with my horse. My gelding can be very pushy and likes to constantly test his handlers, his riders, etc. and is more of a "no" horse vs. a "yes" horse, if that makes sense. He's quiet, though, and a nice horse - I just know that there is more I could be doing to help make our partnership better and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I thought that maybe I could look into Buck's DVDs to help us, but I really can't afford to go out and buy the whole set. So I was wondering if someone had a suggestions as to where I should start? I'm guessing the groundwork video? I don't have access to a round pen, so will that make a difference?
                                        I think the videos are sold separately at Amazon.com you could look. i just got a 3 dvd's but have not been able to watch yet.

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                                        • Originally posted by Nezzy View Post
                                          I think the videos are sold separately at Amazon.com you could look. i just got a 3 dvd's but have not been able to watch yet.
                                          Thanks, Nezzy! I'll take a look and see what I can come up with.
                                          "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."

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