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Early Californios Skills of the Rancho
February 7-9, 2014

The 2nd Annual Early Californios Skills of the Rancho was held February 7th, 8th & 9th 2014 at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center in Santa Ynez, CA.

The poster below provides an overview of this event and a Recap of the event and Posted Winners follow.

We thought it would be difficult to find artwork that could equal Karmel Timmons’ drawing “Teamwork” on the Californios Bridlehorse Association’s (CBA) 2013 inaugural event poster. We were wrong.

Shortly after the Early Californios Skills of the Rancho event we received a photo taken by Brandon Bessey from that competition of one competitor who stood out as a representative of what the Skills event was about. That competitor was Jay Harney.

Jay not only represented the Californios with his dress and gear, but also his style, support, encouragement, and enjoyment in carrying on a California tradition he so loved. Jay was on winning teams in the Open Sort & Rope, the Open Alley Sorting, the Viejo Sort and Rope and received the Top Hand Open award.

Jay left the CBA event in Santa Ynez last February with a gracious smile and told everyone he’d be seeing us all next year at the Skills competition. What many of us didn’t know at that time was Jay was near the end of a hard fought battle with cancer. We lost Jay on June 20th, 2013.

Before Jay’s passing he saw a preview of the 2014 Early Californios Skills of the Rancho poster. Both he and his wife Judy approved and were pleased with our final poster design.

In Jay we lost an incredible friend, husband, father, bridle horseman, and stockman. The CBA is honored to have Jay Harney on our 2014 poster. We think Jay will be watching over all of us at the CBA event next February. After all, he said he would!

Event Descriptions

The Early Californios Skills of the Rancho includes these competitive events:

  • Open Reata Calf Branding (3 person teams, 10 minute time limit)
  • Open Reata Sort and Rope (3 person teams, 8 minute time limit)
  • Open Alley Sorting (3 person teams, 3 minute time limit)
  • Open Stock Horse
  • Pro/Am Sort and Rope (2 person teams, 1 head, 6 minute time limit, any rope over 45 ft)
  • Pro/Am Alley Sorting (2 person teams, 4 minute time limit)
  • Junior/Adult Sort and Rope (2 person teams, one over 18 and one 7-14 years of age, 6 minute time limit, any rope over 45 ft)
  • Junior/Adult Alley Sort (2 person teams, one over 18 and one 7-14 years of age, 4 minute time limit)
  • Mixed/Ladies Sort and Rope (2 person teams, one woman/one man or 2 women, 5 minute time limit, any rope over 45 ft)
  • Mixed/Ladies Alley Sort (2 person teams, one woman/one man or 2 women, 4 minute time limit)
  • Viejo Century Sort and Rope (2 person teams, both members ages must add up to 100+ years, 6 minute time limit, any rope over 45 ft)
  • Viejo Century Alley Sort (2 person teams, both members ages must add up to 100+ years, 4 minute time limit)
  • Amateur/Ladies/Junior/Viejo Stock Horse
  • Amateur and Junior Breakaway Roping (one roper and one helper to set up shots for roper, 3 minute time limit)

    For a detailed description of each of these events, click here.


    Click here to see the list of vendors who participated in the 2014 Early Californios Skills of the Rancho.

    Recap of the Second Annual Early Californios Skills of the Rancho

    Members of the Californios Bridlehorse Association (CBA) returned to Santa Ynez, California for the second annual Early Californios Skills of the Rancho on February 7th, 8th, and 9th. Volunteers soften cattle in a drought breaking, 13-hour rainstorm on Thursday to prepare for the event. The .37” of rain left behind dust free arenas with perfect footing. At 8AM Friday morning, Caitlyn Taussig opened The Skills with our National Anthem under clearing blue skies.

    Rules for The Skills guaranteed the nuances and traditions of the early Californios stockmen were used. Judges Bruce Sandifer and Rick Walt watched for smooth, efficient work with the least amount of wasted movement. Horses were ridden in the hackamore, two-rein, or straight-up in the bridle. Like past masters of this art form, a horse straight-up in the bridle was the epitome of the tradition and a horse that worked comfortably in the spade was given an extra ½ point in the competition.

    Announcer Jeffrey Mundell help spread the event’s fiesta attitude and dissipate participants’ nerves into laughter as Open Alley Sorting teams began the competition. For three days, open riders helped novice participants, strangers became friends, husbands and wives competed on mixed teams, and parents rode with their children in youth classes. Eight year old Cora Mae Schryver, winner of the Junior/Adult Alley Sort with her father, brought a smile to everyone’s face as she slid through calves in the sorting pen on her yellow pony. Cora and the other youth competitors were a key reason Bruce Sandifer founded the CBA. He wanted to resurrect the pure traditions of the Californios method and to educate others so the style could be passed down to our youth. Bruce had perhaps the biggest smile of everyone as he witnessed his dream begin to come to fruition.

    2014’s Skills of the Rancho had a 45% increase in contestants from 2013, mainly in the women and youth classes. Arena lights were brought in to allow more hours for competition. The names of open competitors at The Skills were a Who’s Who of modern day Californios. Each day began and ended with a demonstration of the best this style had to offer as Open Team events were first in the order of go every morning and near to last under the lights at each day’s end.

    The vendor hall and tent were filled with returning vendors, many who donated awards to guarantee the continued success of The Skills. The array of booths offered something for everyone, from traditional gear to Hawaiian western shirts. In Karmel Timmons’ booth a seasoned patron may have spotted horses, riders, and gear in her drawings that were competing outside.

    Saturday night’s arena lights went off just as Dave Stamey pulled his guitar out of its case. Dave played to a packed tent with an audience that overflowed outside around the nightly campfire. His lyrics to “The Bandit Joaquin” echoed up the hill and through the cowboy camp filled to capacity with trucks, trailers and horses bedded down for the night and safe from the ghost of El Dorado.

    Tables were pulled together on Sunday evening and filled with a bounty of donated awards for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place and Stock Horse Bridle, Two-Rein, and Hackamore winners in all classes. Open competitor Dwight Hill saw the table as a buckaroo dream come true. Emily Kitching gave all youth competitors a one-year subscription to Eclectic Horseman or The Horseman’s Gazette. The total payout for the event was $12,026. Open Team Overall winners were Bill Askew, Justin Fields, and Jim Prewett who each received a coveted Bruce Haener spade bit.

    While it doesn’t seem the Early Californios Skills of the Rancho can get better, Bruce Sandifer already has some new ideas for 2015 that emphasize the beauty and precision of the Californios tradition.

    Posted Winners

    Click here to see the list of posted winners for the 2014 Early Californios Skills of the Rancho.

    International Association for the Preservation of Early Californios Bridlehorses and Stockmanship, DBA Californios Bridlehorse Association, a nonprofit 501c3 organization.