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Posted on September 20 at 4:42 p.m.
Very nice piece, well written and informative. Thank you.
I'm not sure how to interpret "The California saddle is very similar to the traditional one of the vaquero except that the latter has an additional cinch in the rear," since neither the term "California saddle" nor "traditional one of the vaquero" is delineated in terms of when and where it evolved.
Are we talking about saddles used by the vaqueros of the Californio era (which ended around 1850) or the later yankee-vaquero period? What is the era of the "California saddle" ?
The original vaquero saddle was a single-cinched center-fire (the cinch was located closer to mid-way between front and back legs, as opposed to the modern trend of putting the cinch closer to the front legs). When yankees began filling up the state, they were notorious for using double-cinched rigs, which they may have brought with them from Texas. Initially, the double-rig was rejected with disdain by traditional (i.e. Spanish) California vaqueros.
It took more skill to rope cows using a single-cinch. The good vaquero prided himself on getting the job done right, using balance, skill and position to keep the saddle where it should be. He looked with disdain on the yankee vaquero who relied upon a second cinch to compensate for inferior horsemanship.
My source is Arnold Rojas. He describes the transition period in some detail in his writings. Per Rojas, the true traditional vaquero preferred the single cinch.
In my mind, the term "California saddle" is synonymous with "traditional saddle of the vaqueros," and both terms refer to the same thing: the center-fire, single-cinch rig used by the Spanish vaqueros of Old California. The double-cinched rig is neither "California" nor "traditional vaquero." A double-cinch spells "yankee." Or at least, it used to.
Again, a very good article. I normally would not find so little to nit-pic,
On What Is a Vaquero?