Doma Vaquero Introduction

According to some Spaniards and authors the Spanish horse, or Andalusian, evolved on the Iberian Peninsula and is a direct ancestor of horses originating there in Paleolithic times. It shouldn’t surprise you that Spaniards have an intense pride for their horses and give no credit to other breed influences. This pride is reflected in their heritage and in the way they talk about their horses on websites such as "Horse Sense" which quoted:

An Andalusian man without his horse is like a matador without a cape. He feels stripped of an essential part of his identity that has been formed over the centuries. It is part of his life, his work, his status, his culture, his earthly possessions ... his horse is central to his very being.

Doma vaquera is the western style reining event of horsebackriding 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".

What is a Doma Vaquera Test ?

In competition, Doma Vaquera is an 8 minute test of horse and rider open to any breed, type or size of horse in Spain. In the USA, doma vaquera competitions are held at Andalusian horse breed shows for purebred Andalusians and half-bred Andalusians.

The full test requires the horse and rider to enter the arena at canter, on the right rein, halt, salute, then perform in any order; correct working (Vaquera) walk in straight lines then the following tests at walk on both reins - circles, half pass, pirouette, reverse pirouette (turn on the forehand), half voltes (180 degree turns), rein back and walk forward. Then at collected canter on both reins; circles large to small, half pass, Extension (gallop) collection and turn across the arena, two time and one time flying changes, counter canter, half voltes, rein back to canter and to walk, voltes (360� turns). Gallop to skid stop.

The entire test is carried out with the rider holding the reins only in his/her left hand. There are three judges for each test and in addition to the correctness of all movements marks are awarded for submission, impulsion and positioning of the horse, seat and position of rider, correctness of aids, difficulty of combination of movements and 'Vaquero expression'.

A 40m x 20m school is used for preliminary and intermediate levels and a 60m x 20m is necessary for the full test. Dress and tack code may vary from country to country, but it is still strictly controlled, with each competitor inspected by all three judges before being allowed to compete.

Great attention is paid to the fitness and condition of horses that compete in Doma Vaquera. Each horse is vetted before each competition and inspected by the judges and not allowed to compete unless in perfect condition and soundness. Marking the horse with spurs during competition results in instant elimination. Points are severely deducted if the rider is heavy with the hands.

Where Did Doma Vaquera Originate ?

Doma Vaquera originated on the working ranches of Spain, where the rider (Vaquero) has to work with herds of semi-wild cattle, a submissive yet highly schooled horse is necessary. Ridden for many hours each day the horse must be able to respond immediately to the rider's requests when working the herds, with the rider using only one hand on the reins.

"Acoso y derribo" is the pursuing of young cattle on horseback. The rider throws the bulls or cows over in a marked area with the aid of a goad. This enables the breeders of fighting bulls to test the bravery of their animals. While working in the field, a long pole (Garrocha) is carried in the other hand to fend off aggressive cattle or those that get too close. Competition Vaquera was based on this form of riding, but without using the Garrocha.

Modern Doma Vaquera came under the control of Spain's Asociacion Nacional de Doma Vaquera in 1979 and more recently Associations have been set up in France, Holland and the USA, under the Spanish rules and competition regulations.

Source: Yeguada Iberica

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