Californio Style

This unique photograph titled “Californio Style” has been submitted to the International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association ( for their 2016 Art Contest, and was a Professional Class winner at the California Mid-State Fair 2016. It depicts an Andalusian named Brillante JG and her owner and rider, Julie McCloskey, working cattle at a small ranch on the Central Coast of CA.

The Andalusian horse is being ridden using a unique style of horsemanship and stockmanship developed during the Mission era of California. These methods became an essential part of California and western U.S. history, and is having a resurgence around the globe.

The techniques and equipment used by the Californios were passed down within family traditions and so secretly guarded they were almost lost to the pages of history.  Preservation and promotion of the original California Bridle & Hackamore horse as well as the skills of the California Vaquero intend to honor & elevate the horse from just a “working animal” to art in motion.

Key elements of this history & stockmanship are shown not only in the specific tack but also in the way it is used – this Andalusian is shown in a rawhide bosal and a horse hair mecate.  The saddle is a modified Visalia 3B with traditional style tapaderos.

Further, the “type” of horse the California Vaqueros used were the Iberian horses brought to North America by Conquistadors and early California’s Missionary Padres in the 18th and 19th Centuries – selected for its intelligence, intuition, physical stamina and athleticism.

The methods of the California Vaquero take much longer to develop a horse, but the end result is a horse who truly knows how to use its body and mind to be fully & quietly connected to its rider under all circumstances and conditions.