Here’s why I call myself and this blog “Backwoods Buckaroo”:
Main Entry: back-woods 1 : wooded or partly cleared areas far from cities 2 : a remote or culturally backward area Date:1709
The above definition describes our situation exactly. We live in a ‘wooded and partly cleared area far from the cities’. Merriam-Webster’s second part of the definition ‘…remote or culturally backward…’ relates to my experience with horses. I have rarely been to horse shows, clinics or events. My wife is frustrated when we get lost because (as she says) I am the kind of guy that doesn’t like to stop and ask for directions and perhaps that is part of my resistance of going to the “experts” for help and instructions about horses, but also our remote area plays a prohibitive role in that almost any horse event is far away. I would sooner stay home and ride a horse than drive several hours to hear someone talk about horses and watch someone else ride.
One advantage that I have over the truly ‘culturally backward’ is that I can read. I have read and followed directions in many helpful and instructional books about horses. For instance, we don’t have enough horses in our county to support a local farrier. With all the horses I have had over the years, a farrier is sometimes essential. After attempting to solve this problem in various unsatisfactory ways, I bought a book and some horse shoeing tools and with book in one hand and a hoof in the other I put shoes on my own horse. It took a long time, but it turned out all right. I have gotten better and faster with practice, and when I run into a new problem I read some more. It is interesting how doing a project will reveal how little you know and how much there is to learn.
Main Entry: buck-a-roo Variant: also buck-er-oo Etymology: probably by folk etymology from Spanish vaquero, from vaca cow, from Latin vacca 1 : COWBOY 2 : BRONCOBUSTER Date:1827
Probably most of the cowboys and broncobusters in our American histories were the ‘just do it’ kind of guys. Like my dad who needed horses to get the job done, they just made it happen. The settlers, sodbusters and ranchers were struggling out a living and horses were a necessary part of it. If there was art in training a horse they didn’t think about the ‘art’ part much. That’s the way I was raised. This was my heritage and the first horses I trained were the ‘just do it’ farm boy method.
There was another less famous tradition of horsemanship established in America. Time Life Books in their Old West series calls it “the cowboy’s elegant Spanish ancestry.” Around the time when George Washington was president until The United States annexed Upper California in 1847, the King of Spain was giving land grants of California real estate to upper class dons. They imported their fine Spanish horses (Andalulsians, Barbs and Arabians) and their classic traditions of horsemanship. They applied both their horses and skill to the cattle industry. They were not desperate for survival and they had time for the art of horsemanship. They were the first American Cowboys. They called themselves ‘vaqueros’.
I have mentioned before a National Show Horse mare of mine, Fantasia, who had been trained for English pleasure. She moved with more grace and suppleness than I had experienced before. She inspired me to reflect on other possibilities of training beyond my farm boy methods. I studied books about dressage, bought an English saddle and applied what I learned on my fresh colts and fillies. It worked out nicely. I learned a lot but I had trouble giving up the western equipment and traditions. I became involved in Cowboy Mounted Shooting which was all about the old west. Finally, it all fit together when I discovered the California vaquero method which was the father of the old west and emphasized horsemanship with classic dressage, balance and suppleness.