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Doma Vaquera Apparel and Tack

Introduction to Doma Vaquera Basico

Doma vaquera basico is designed for the beginning horse and rider. It gives those just starting out in the sport a “basic” platform from which to start. The movements, pattern, and gaits are appropriate for a young horse and could be compared to first level dressage.

Doma vaquera originated in the fields of Spain and is the western style reining event of horseback riding in Spain for Spanish Horses (Andalusians). Doma vaquera horse riding is commonly used to work cattle, to bring in the fierce bulls from the fields, or to test the bulls. In the Spanish arena this horse sport has developed into a type of "reining" event where the rider and horse perform intricate maneuvers.

Good doma vaquera horses are generally short coupled and able to work off their hindquarters. Many of the working doma vaquera horses and not purebred Andalusians or Spanish Horses, but are crossbreds (usually Thoroughbreds) or geldings. You can tell a gelding or crossbred doma vaquera horse by his docked tail. Cattle in Spain are not roped (you wouldn't want to be roped to one), but are worked from a distance with a pole called "la garrocha".

Doma Vaquera Tack

The Spanish doma vaquera horse is ridden in a doma vaquera saddle and bridle. For training purposes, and for competition at the lower levels, a western saddle is appropriate for U.S. riders.

A traditional doma vaquera saddle has a front pommel and back cantle made of leather, a tree stuffed with straw, a natural wool seat cover, and a tail strap (crupper). When a thigh pommel is added, the saddle is called “vaquera mixta”. Doma vaquera saddles range in price from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand U.S. dollars. The price is dependent on leather quality and the cost of importation.

The feel of a doma vaquera saddle takes some getting used to. For one thing, it is very well padded, sitting you several inches above the horses back and placing your things without any contact on the side. The stirrups are bulky, heavy, and have sharp edges. They are there to protect your feet from charging bulls. The vaquero saddle, in fact, in its original form is more than four hundred years old. It is not designed for modern riders or horses due to the fact that the frame is long (pinching on the withers) and inflexible. Recent modifications are changing the traditional vaquero saddle to a more comfortable one and dealers are starting to carry the “vaquero flex”.

When you buy your doma vaquera saddle, it will come with metal stirrups that are triangular shaped. Your horse will need to get used to them. For practice, or regular riding, you may want to replace the stirrups with endurance or western stirrups for your own comfort.

When a vaquero saddle is first placed on a horse without a saddle blanket, the horse must be allowed to sweat and be ridden alot in order for the saddle to shape to the horse’s back. For those of us who spent much money on a show saddle, this is frightful. Yet, if you do not ride enough with the saddle, it will not conform to you or your horse. It is an exaggerated promise that every doma vaquera saddle will fit all horses. Yet, for the purposes of competition, you may be tempted to buy one still. A high quality saddle is a work of art.

The traditional vaquero bridle is made of heavy, thick leather and is easy to adjust. Styles and quality of stitching vary. A bridle is not complete without a leather or horsehair mosquera, which hangs from the forehead. Often the bridles are sold without a throatlatch. This is because, when in the fields, if a horse were to get loose and come in contact with a bull, you wouldn’t want your horse to get tangled in the reins or bridle. Without a throatlatch the bridle can slip off, saving the horse.

Bits are made of blackened steel and are the curb variety. You can order different port and shank sizes, but be aware that the bits are designed for Arabian/thoroughbred cross Andalusians and may be too narrow for regular use. To get your horse used to the vaquero bit, you need to ride him in a solid western bit first.

Doma Vaquera Apparel

Doma vaquera style is plain and simple. Nothing extravagant is allowed for competition. The fancier outfits and colors are reserved for riding in parades. 

According to the IALHA rulebook, the doma vaquera rider wears a “Traje corto jacket in solid black or dark brown. The black jacket shall be worn with gray and black striped pants. The brown jacket (Calzona) provided that the silver ornaments (Caireles) are removed and the cuffs of the pants are turned up. A black Sevillano hat may be worn with gray striped pants and a brown Sevillano hat may be worn with brown pants. Female riders would wear the same attire or with a split skirt, but shall not have flowers or ornaments in their hair. Protective headgear may be worn without penalty.”

So, basically your two color choices are black or brown. Brighter colors are reserved for special fiestas, only. The traje corto (short jacket or country suit) is the most traditional. It is worn with striped pants that have a white cuff at the bottom. The shirt, camisa blanca, must always be white. The jacket is closed with a single botton. A handkerchief, paÑuelo, is tied at the waist. A wide brimmed hat called the sombrero de ala ancha is worn. 

For men, the hat is slightly inclined to the right, and for women the hat is inclined to the left. Sunglasses and jewelry are not worn. The boots, botos camperos, are brown natural leather. Spurs, if worn, must have white straps. 

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