7th Annual Early Californios Skills of the Rancho

Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Rodeo

For the seventh consecutive year, ranch roping enthusiasts will gather to compete and celebrate traditional roping and horsemanship methods developed during the mission days of early California. The Early Californios Skills of the Rancho, or “The Skills” as it is commonly known, will be held July 12-14  at the Tejon Ranch Equestrian Center in Lebec, California. More than 150 horse-men and -women of all ages and abilities will throw long ropes and compete for cash and prizes. 


Hannah Kelley catches her cow and dallies in a youth class. Photo Credit: Jennifer Denison

“I love it because the emphasis is on a variety of areas,” said repeat competitor Andrea Zeller of Fallon, Nevada. “[The classes test] your skill as a horseman, your stockmanship in reading and handing cattle, your ability to rope and the tradition of making a true bridle horse through the Californio methods.”

Like other ranch roping contests that have grown in popularity over the last decade, The Skills gives ropers who don’t fit the typical go-fast-go-left pattern an opportunity to compete with other like-minded aficionados.

“For many years I have worked on building a true unity between me and my horses. I am less worried about showing them as 3 year old and progressing them by AQHA or Snaffle Bit [Futurity] rules. I want to create an animal that progresses at its own speed, that is mentally adept in any  working situation – such as working a cow, ranch work, roping, or stock horse patterns – and is still sound late in life,” said Zeller.


Bodie Scruggs sorts his cow out of the herd to rope. Photo Credit: Jennifer Denison

To further their goals, event founders developed rules that promote training horses using a hackamore, two-rein outfit, and straight-up bridle setups . Tie-downs; bits with broken or hinged mouthpieces; or other mechanical devices are not permitted. Additionally, competitors must use a rope or reata that is at least 45 feet long, and they must dally around a slick saddle horn. The Skills is sanctioned by the Californio Bridlehorse Association (CBA), which strives to promote these methods and values through other events, workshops, clinics, and online resources.


In between classes, ropers and spectators can shop from the many vendors selling custom gear and artwork. The event is free all weekend for the public to attend.

For more information, visit the CBA’s website or the event’s Facebook page.


Posted in: Featured, Horse Training, Rodeo

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit www.jolynyoung.com....

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