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Early Californios Skills of the Rancho
February 8-10, 2013

Congratulations on a Successful Inaugural Event! A recap of the event is provided below.

If you would like to puchase the poster, you can do so at the Prairie Karen website.

Early Californios Skills of the Rancho Recap

The Early Californios Skills of the Rancho, held at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Facility in Santa Ynez, California February 8th – 10th 2013, was CBA’s first event. The event was inspired by long time promoter of Californio skills events Aaron Dickinson. It was Aaron’s events at the Tejon Ranch that were CBA President Bruce Sandifer’s inspiration for the Early Californio Skills of the Rancho show. The Skills of the Rancho drew what the facility’s Executive Director David Hunsicker and Manager Don Woodward described as the biggest crowd they’d ever seen at the facility. At the height of the event 400 people were in the stands watching the competition, visiting, eating, and/or shopping at our vendor booths. Cowboy camp was set up on a hilltop overlooking the facility where some 50 tents, campers and bedrolls were spread out.

Entertainment was provided by cowboy poet Robert Dennis and singer/songwriter Caitlyn Taussig. Friday’s frigid weather prevented their sing-around-the-campfire. Instead the performance was moved into the vendor’s hall where people crowded into the bar and around booths to watch and listen to a fine show. Caitlyn sang a song she had just written for her father, with lyrics timely in their significance to the Skills of the Rancho: “Lemme give you some advice now girls, when those young horses give you a turn, listen close and I’ll tell to you what took me a long time to learn. Don’t use horses like we did, we was too damn rough in those days. Keep your mind in the middle and a gentle touch on the reins.” The Californio system is a uniquely American, historically Californian style of horsemanship and stockmanship where everything is done in a slow and accurate method, a method Caitlyn’s father spoke to his girls of in this song.

Skies cleared to expose snow-covered mountaintops on Saturday and by early afternoon everyone was enjoying the California sunshine. Sunday came too soon with one common complaint: it was the last day for the event and there was still much to learn, share, and experience. Unlike the old Californios who secretly guarded their knowledge and passed it down within their family, everyone at the event was anxious to share their knowledge and experience. Around the arena and in the cowboy camp were horses that reflected Californio training, from the hackamore to the spade bit. Vendors’ booths were full of handmade Californio finery including conchos, saddles, taps, spurs, bits, bosals, mecates, reatas, and romals.

Ray and LaVerne Ordway watched as seventy-eight men and women competed in the inaugural event. Horses were only ridden in hackamore, two-rein, or straight up in the bridle with no broken or hinged mouthpieces as the Californio tradition was to make a spade bit horse. Paul Woods announced and explained each event as judges Bruce Sandifer and Rick Walt looked for competitors who were true to the pure Californio tradition of horsemanship and stockmanship. Competitors were rewarded for productivity, efficiency, safety, and finesse keeping their horse and cattle stress free and completing assigned tasks without reckless speed. Even through LaVerne Ordway said it was hard for Ray to just watch when he wants to be in the middle of everything, they both enjoyed themselves and thanked Bruce Sandifer “for all his efforts of trying to keep this old tradition alive.” What an honor it was for participants to have ridden in front of the Ordways in the Californio style Ray had learned from his father. The success of the Early Californio Skills of the Rancho allowed the CBA to mail payouts to 1st and 2nd place Open competitors.

Results from Early Californio Skills of the Rancho 2013

Open Calf Branding:

1st place: Buddy Montes, Cody Real, Adrianne Cruz won custom headstalls donated and made by Fred Buckmaster with silver conchos and buckles made by Richard Brooks provided by the CBA.
2nd place: Christian Clews, Justin Reichert, John Hardesty won Bruce Haener bridle conchos donated by Bruce Haener.
3rd place: Barrie Prosser, Lane Johnson, Wacey Kornemann won rein chains made and donated by Richard Brooks.

Open Sort and Rope:
1st place: Jay Harney, Gene Roberts, Chris Birkmaier won bridle conchos made by Shawn Didyoung provided by the CBA.
2nd place: Weston Albrecht, Matt Goodson, Paul Bonnello won hand painted ties made and donated by Jeffrey Mundell.
3rd place: Pat Puckett, Deb Puckett, Enrique Loperena won Linda Doyle silver bit hangers donated by Prairie Karen.

Open Alley Sorting:
1st place: Jay Harney, Gene Roberts, Chris Birkmaier won Gary Wiggins bridle conchos provided by CBA.
2nd place: Jim George, Lester Leslie, Jay Harney won hand painted ties made and donated by Jeffery Mundell.
3rd place: Drew Mischianti, Natalia Estrada, Giulio DeDonatis won Linda Doyle silver bit hangers donated by Prairie Karen.

Pro/Am Sort and Rope:
1st place: Gil Camarillo won a silver mounted headstall made and donated by Cyndi and Greg Gomersall.
2nd place: Dave Matuszak won a 5/8ths mane hair mecate donated by Jeff Stone and the CBA.
3rd place: Jeff Kadansky won Richard Brooks rein chains donated by Bruce Sandifer.

Pro/Am Alley Sorting:
1st place: Peter Taylor won Gary Wiggins bridle conchos donated by Gary Wiggins.
2nd place: Kevin Jones won a pair of spur straps made and donated by Gordon Andrus.
3rd place: Tammy Evans won a silk wild rag donated by Buckaroo Brand and a collection of Juni Fisher CDs donated by Juni Fisher.

Mixed/Ladies Sort and Rope:
1st place: Victor Cruz, Adrianne Cruz won set of spurs each donated by Jeremiah Watt, JWP products.

Mixed/Ladies Alley Sorting:
1st place: Buddy Montes, Laurie Montes won Beaver Valley Fiber Art Cinches made and donated by Dianne DeWeese.
2nd place: Drew Mischianti, Natalia Estrada won bosalitas donated by Bruce Sandifer.
3rd place: Mike Morgan, Darian Morgan.

Viejo Sort and Rope:
1st place: Lester Leslie, Jay Harney won Gary Wiggins bridle conchos provided by the CBA.
2nd place: Ken Dodds, Kelly Bradford won wild rags donated by Buckaroo Brand Wild Rags.
3rd place: Renee Duycaerts, Cam Shryver.

Viejo Alley Sorting:
1st place: Ken Dodds, Kelly Bradford won knives and sheaths from CBA.

Breakaway Roping:
1st place: Mike Tarrant won a braided honda made and donated by Aaron Dickinson.
2nd place: Jeff Stone.
3rd place: Darian Morgan.

Open Stock Horse Bridle:
1st place: Robin Bond won a custom built hat donated by Tom Hirt.
2nd place: Matt Goodson.
3rd place: Weston Albrecht.

Open Stock Horse Two-Rein:
1st place: Weston Albrecht won a silver scarf slide made and donated by Mike Vatalaro of Tap’s Bit and Spur Shop.
2nd place: David Kay.
3rd place: Brad Randall.

Open Stock Horse Hackamore:
1st place: Matt Goodson won a hand painted silk tie made and donated by Jeffrey Mundell.
2nd place: Deb Puckett.

Amateur Stock Horse Bridle:
1st place: Peter Taylor won headstall from Deb and Pat Puckett.
2nd place: Darian Morgan. 3rd place: Britani Nelson.

Amateur Stock Horse Two-Rein:
1st place: Mike Tarrant won a get down rope by CBA.
2nd place: Anthony Borgatello.
3rd place: Arlene Morgan.

Amateur Stock Horse Hackamore:
1st place: Courtney Meitz won a set of Trina Weber jail house stirrups donated by Shannon Wrango/Tuffy Flagler of Kansas Saddlery.
2nd place: Glynna Hoekstra.
3rd place: Elena Juarez.

Ladies Stock Horse Bridle:
1st place: Courtney Meitz won a Wrango chap bag donated by Shannon Wrango and Tuffy Flagler of Kansas Saddlery.

Ladies Stock Horse Two-Rein:
1st place: Arlene Morgan won bit bag donated by Shannon Wrango and Tuffy Flagler of Kansas Saddlery.

Ladies Stock Horse Hackamore:
1st place: Deb Puckett won a hand painted silk tie made and donated by Jeffrey Mundell.

Top Hand Open:
Jay Harney won a silver headstall made and donated by Linda Doyle.

Top Hand Amateur:
Peter Taylor won reins and romal braided and donated by Bill Black Braiding.

The team who came the farthest:
Drew Mischianti, Natalia Estrada, & Giulio DeDonatis from Italy won the 11 DVD Vaquero Series by J&S Productions.

Early Californios Skills of the Rancho competitors:

Weston Albrecht
Adam Alvarez
Robin Bond
Paul Bonnello
Anthony Borgatello
Chris Birkmaier
Kelly Bradford
Gil Camarillo
Boone Campbell
David Cascarini
Christian Clews
Adrianne Cruz
Victor Cruz
Giulio DeDonatis
Mike Deerman
Robert Dennis
Jeff Derby
Ken Dodds
Laurie Donovan
Steve Dreo
Rene Duykaerts
Natalia Estrada
Tammy Evans
Jim George
Matt Goodson
Mike Gossman
John Hardesty
Jay Harney
Glynna Hoekstra
Elena Juarez
Ray Juarez
Lane Johnson
Kevin Jones
Jeff Kadansky
David Kay
Jim Kelley
Wacey Kornemann
Cid Klebenow
Lester Leslie
Enrique Loperena
Andy Lopez
Daniel Lopez
Lupe Lopez
Dave Matuszak
Courtney Meitz
Drew Mischianti
Buddy Montes
Laurie Montes
Arlene Morgan
Darian Morgan
Mike Morgan
Dan Moyer
Jeff Mundell
Vinnie Muselli
Britani Nelson
Joe Olla
Roy Pelkey
Pat Pinckney
Barrie Prosser
Brad Price
Deb Puckett
Pat Puckett
Brad Randall
Cody Real
Justin Reichert
Daniel Robinson
Gene Roberts
Karen Ross
Stoney Scheer
Cam Schryver
Adam Spence
Jeff Stone
Mike Tarrant
Peter Taylor III
Douglas Thomason
Linda Turner
Don Woodward
Donald Woodward
Paul Woods

Those who came to the Skills of the Rancho for the trade show were not disappointed. Vendor booths were filled with traditional handmade gear and art. Artist Karmel Timmons, creator of the CBA logo “The Legacy Lives On” as well as artwork for the event’s poster, came with some of her beautiful pencil art prints and several of her equine subjects were competing in the event. CBA board member Bruce Haener’s booth was filled with a portion of his bit and spur collection. Jack Armstrong had a table with examples of his fine rawhide braiding. You may have seen Event Director Karen Ross in her Prairie Karen booth when she wasn’t busy keeping the event running smoothly. Amy and Jeff Mundell were there although it was doubtful Jeff was seen in their booth as he was kept busy in the arena filling in as announcer when Paul Woods competed, or working with his Open teammates Jeff Derby and Boone Campbell as the often comical ground crew for the roping events when they weren’t themselves competing. Vendor Bryan Kunic wrote to say, “Thanks again for having me, it was the most fun event I have been to in a long time.” Linda Hayden wrote: “Over all I thought the event was outstanding. As a vendor, I was sold out by Saturday afternoon and all the people were the friendliest and most fun I've experienced at any similar event where I've displayed my blankets. I think that was due to the overall relaxed atmosphere and camaraderie felt by everyone. Even the rain wasn't a deterrent! As a spectator, I thought it was not only fun and interesting to watch but also very educational and I'm looking forward to the next time! Job well done!”

Graham Goodfield and his Los Padres Outfitters kept everyone happy with their chuck wagon that provided three hot meals a day and, at night, they served up drinks at the Equestrian Center’s restored copper surfaced cowboy bar.

All the CBA members who participated in the event shared Bruce Sandifer’s passion for the pure “California” Californio tradition. This event would not have occurred if it weren’t for our tireless volunteers. We want to thank and recognize:

Anthony Borgatello
Boone Campbell
Stephanie Campbell
Jeff Derby
Viki Dunagan
Charlie Dunagan
MaryJo England
Marilyn Golden
Cara Hamer Heather Kornemann
Wacey Kornemann
Heidi MacIntyre
Rachel Mannato
Arlene Morgan
Jon Morgan
Jeff Mundell
Karen Ross
Wally Ross
Bruce Sandifer
Ute Sandifer
Sarah Saverda
Katie Spence
Cameron Taussig
Caitlyn Taussig
Stef Travers
Linda Turner
Marcia Walt
Rick Walt

Early Californio Skills of the Rancho event sponsors whose generous donations guaranteed the success of this event:

Californio Bridlehorse Association www.californiobridlehorseassociation.com 805.895.8393

Bruce Sandifer’s Californio Bridlehorses www.brucesandifercbh.com 805.895.8393

Anthony Borgatello and MarBorg Industries www.marborg.com 805.963.1852

Shannon Wrango & Tuffy Flagler - Kansas Saddlery www.kansassaddlery.com 316.621.0600

Karen B. Ross – Prairie Karen Karen@prairiekaren.com 805.325.3212

Scott Wehrmann – Double Diamond Ranch www.DoubleDiamondRanch.info 402.709.7439

Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center www.alamopintado.com 805.688.6510

Early Californio Skills of the Rancho vendors and contact information:

Californio Bridlehorse Association www.californiobridlehorseassociation.com 805.895.8393

Bruce Sandifer’s Californio Bridlehorses www.brucesandifercbh.com 805.895.8393

Prairie Karen Hand Done Jewelry by US Artisans www.prairiekaren.com 805.325.3212

Karmel Timmons Fine Pencil Art www.karmeltimmons.com 303.648.3826

Bruce Haener Bit & Spur Maker 805.528.7236

Linda Hayden Saddle Blankets www.LindaHaydensaddleblankets.com 559.561.1109

Ron Butler Custom Saddles & Gear 209.984.3036

Amy & Jeff Mundell, The Brand Wild Rags Hand Sewn Silk Scarves & Original Art Neckties www.buckaroobrand.com 916.204.7556

Michael & Joanne Rhoads - Flat Hat Trading Engraved Silver, Fine Palm Hats, Children’s Books & Vintage Gear www.flathattrading.com 559.824.9776

Tully Hole Saddlery Custom Horse Gear & Knives mulepilot@msn.com 831.524.5278

Working Cowboy Saddlery - Don Howe Custom Saddles & Reatas 605.200.2931

Gary Field Silversmith Custom Bits, Spurs, Conchos, & Rein-chains www.fieldfamilybitsandspurs.com 805.708.4016

Greg Gomersall Saddlery Custom Saddles & Tack www.gomersallsaddlery.com 208.278.0133

Shannon Wrango & Tuffy Flagler - Kansas Saddlery Custom Gear www.kansassaddlery.com 316.621.0600

Tap’s Bit and Spur Shop – Mike Vatalaro Custom Bits & Spurs www.tapsbitandspurshop.com 707.744.8443

KJ Murphys Custom Hatter – Kevin Murphy www.kjmurphys.com 805.686.4790

Osuna Boots www.ozunabootcompany.com 520.622.2638 520.867.1376

Photos of the Early Californios Skills of the Rancho can be purchased from the following photographers:

  • Patti Martin http://pattimartinphotography.smugmug.com/
  • Gretchen King http://hightechbuckarette.smugmug.com/
  • Sandy Kinsman http://sandysign.smugmug.com/

Once again, special thanks to Ray and LaVerne Ordway for keeping the stories of the past masters alive and for being an inspiration to all who come in contact with you.

A final thought from President Bruce Sandifer:

How many of you have followed the Californio system though it's entirety? This means starting a horse in the hackamore, two reining a horse with a spade bit, and finally ending up with a straight up spade bit bridle horse. Has anyone done this without ever using any other types of equipment from start to finish?

This is the true early Californio process.

You cannot fairly judge or fully understand a system until you have followed the system, at least once, all the way through. It often takes more then once to figure out the pure genius of this system for most people.

I hear talk of Ray, Tom, Bill and Buck when California methods are discussed. I know these men are without doubt great horsemen whom I have much respect for and have learned from. However, they do not seem to be teachers of the Californio system as it was originally designed, or even real strong advocates of people riding in bridles. I'm not sure, but it seems if they were, as many people as they have taught for long periods of time you would think there would be more folks riding bridle horses out there.

Now I'm not saying wrong, right, better or worse. I'm saying different. The Californio system as I know it is an entirely different process with different results in the end.

I always thought it was the same too, because I rode with the teaching of these men for most of my life. Only after I actually followed the old system though a couple of times did I begin to understand how different and special it is. While some see me as an expert of the Californio system, I still feel as though I'm just scratching the surface.

I'm also not saying the Californio method is for everyone, and that everyone should ride this way or they suck, not at all. But, for those people that have a desire to work in this old system the rewards are boundless and the feeling is unsurpassed, at least in my experience anyway.

“Dad’s Song” by Caitlyn Taussig

I found my daddy settin’ in his rockin’ chair
Lookin’ out the window today
He was rememberin’ the good ole days
As he looked out over the sage

He said did I tell you bout the place I was raised
The ranch we called Ute Park
We learned what hard work meant in those days
Way up the Williamsfork

Chorus:
Ooo those white-faced cattle on that high country grass
Snow up on the divide
Carry me up to Ptarmigan Peak
Spread my ashes there when I die

Lemme give you some advice now girls
When those young horses give you a turn
Listen close and I’ll tell to you
What took me a long time to learn

Don’t use horses like we did
We was too damn rough in those days
Keep your mind in the middle
And a gentle touch on the reins

Chorus

My legacy’s up in those snowfields, girls
On Ptarmigan way up high
Come spring it’ll all melt down you know
I’ll be back on the ranch in July

You’ll see me in the timothy heads
That wave in the afternoon breeze
Think of me out on your favorite horse
I’m the sun that’s kissin’ your cheek

Chorus

Hosted by International Association for the Preservation of Early Californio Bridlehorses and Stockmanship. For more information or to help support the continuation and growth of this non-profit organization contact Bruce Sandifer (see contact information above) OR Karen Ross: 805.325.3212.