Luis B. Ortega, an unrivaled rawhide braider and craftsman, authored 37 articles for Western Horseman from 1941 – 1955. He wrote about his first-hand knowledge of the skills and traditions of the California vaquero horseman. He captured the attention of horse enthusiasts across the nation with his secrets of the trade and genuine ability to simply tell a story.
Below is an excerpt from his first article, “Use of a Hackamore,” written for Western Horseman, published in the March-April issue of 1941.
“I was taught to break horses and handle cattle by old California vaqueros. My knowledge came through experience learned while working with big cattle outfits throughout this part of the country during which time I was mixing in with old Spanish vaqueros some of whom were old enough to be my grandfather. The old-time way on big cattle ranches was to go into the corral or pen and throw the colt down by forefooting him just as is done by many outfits today. While the bronc was down the hackamore was put on and the blind pulled down over his eyes. Then he was let up and the hazer or helper snubbed the colt’s head close to his saddle horn. After the colt quieted down a little the breaker threw on the saddle without any blanket and with the lead end of the hackamore rope made a loop to reach under and catch the cinch because it’s a dangerous trick to go up close to a green colt and reach under his belly with your hand for the cinch. Even though he may be blindfolded this hind feet of his can reach a long ways either front or back, and a cowboy has to look out for himself as this is no mama’s profession.”
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