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Doma Vaquera is a term used today to describe the traditional "one-handed" style of riding used by vaqueros. Doma Vaquera competitions are growing in popularity throughout Europe and the United States. The costume and tack associated with this sport are usually traditional Spanish, and the horse breeds most associated are Andalusians or Lusitanos, but the skills and discipline required to compete in Doma Vaquera can benefit any horse and rider.
Riders of the Vaquero Heritage Foundation practice Doma Vaquera in traditional Old Californio costume and tack, riding Quarterhorses, Arabians, Aztecas, and Colonial Spanish Horses.
Vaquero horsemanship is descended from the same traditions and schools of equitation that produced Spain's great war horses and made her cavalry the most renowned in the Old World. The first New World vaqueros were trained in equitation by masters of Spanish horsemanship, who taught their eager pupils the only style of riding they knew -- the style of Kings.
In the Old World, only aristocrats rode horses. In the New World, a new type of horseman evolved, to meet the special needs of New Spain's millions of unfenced acres and wild cattle. The vaquero was hired labor, but he was also an equestrian, which in the Old World was synonymous with the upper classes. As a working-class equestrian, therefore, the vaquero was a dramatic and revolutionary figure.
Thanks to the vaqueros, the New World would never be like the Old.
The needs of the warrior and the needs of the vaquero were much the same -- a horse that was nimble and responsive with minimal manipulation of the reins, working mostly on leg cues, and thereby freeing the rider's hands to hold sword, shield, lance, reata, or the garrocha.