The Pacific Northwest has always been home to many fine and respected horsemen. That is true in part because we have drawn talented people from all over the U.S., Canada and even England. One of the many fine trainers was a gentleman from California, Tony Garcia. Now Tony influenced many, many western trainers in this area. Those of us who have been around for a long time still talk about him.
A little background about Tony Garcia is probably in order. He had been taught in the old vaquero tradition and could take a horse all the way into the spade bit. An art that in those days was still admired. He was an all around western trainer, competing in pleasure classes, reining and cutting events.
I was not personal friends with Tony but being the generous person he was, he kindly advised me on several occassions. He and I had many mutual friends so I had occassion to meet him many times over the years.
There are two very important things I learned from Tony. One is: if a horse is properly broke to the bit, you can ride him in the snaffle one handed as if he were carrying a bridle. When in a bridle (especially a lighter schooling bit) you can and should do any excercise you have done in the snaffle. I see too many people, especially on the Arabian circuit, who ride the snaffle and bit completely differently. That is most definitely not in the western tradition.
The second thing I learned, many problems some way or another go back to the bridle. Poor back-ups, poor transitions, bad stops, head tossing, inability to "neck rein", not responding to one handed riding and more - these are just some examples.
As I continue to write this blog, it is my hope that you, my readers, will ponder these thoughts and ideas. Many things I may bring up may be new or just a different way of seeing a problem. My perspective comes from many years of training and many years of observing some of the finest trainers. Especially western trainers. I believe the quality of training in general has never been higher and that these top trainers have all been influenced by the great trainers and horsement of the past. See you next week. JD