If you prefer your education straight-up, give Ed Connell a read.
The main thing that separates historic horsemen who continue to influence the living from those who don’t is this: they wrote something down.
Too few American equestrians have ever heard of Ed Connell, and, of course, even fewer outside of this country.
But Mr. Connell, who lived through the Depression, both world wars, and the sudden decline of horse-as-machine in our culture, realized he was one of the last living links to methods evolved by the Californio vaqueros – the master horsemen of bygone Spanish colonial California and creators of the illusive, hair-trigger, whisper-reined Bridle Horse. His are the same core principles and techniques today popularized by Buck Branaman over the last few years; Ray Hunt, who mentored him; and Bill and Tom Dorrance before him (Ed Connell was several years older than the Dorrance brothers, but they were contemporaries of his operating out of the Basin area).
Connell wrote two seminal works with respect to vaquero-style Bridle Horse development:
- Hackamore Reinsman – Introduces the basic concept and application of the hackamore in the training process.
- Reinsman of the West – Proceeds through the bridling process using the two-rein through finishing the Bridle Horse.
If you’re used to watching the talking hats on RFDTV, understand: Connell isn’t going to help you figure out how to pet your horse, or load him on a trailer, nor, thankfully, talk much about developing your “relationship,” etc.
Coming up on the last of the great cattle ranches – charged with making numerous rank, untouched, range-raised horses productive expeditiously – Ed’s isn’t that kind of party.
The glossy images and dumbed-down bullet point summaries will be missing – also absent will be pandering for “club memberships” and certifications. Your certification – if you listen closely and work patiently – will be a bridle horse you will treasure. I use a range of his techniques on my horses, and stick with him through the hackamore, before progressing them to the snaffle and double bridle.