California Spade Bit Horse
Quite often authors are good at writing and organizing a book, but are not necessarily knowledgeable about the material. Not so with Mino Spadacini, who wrote and illustrated his book, The California Spade Bit Horse.
He knows his material. Itís a challenging subject. This type of horsemanship is very hard to put into words.
It is empirical knowledge so it takes time and experience to develop in a person. It cannot be handed from one person to another. It is a feel that can only be learned from the feel a horse. It is the timing that can only be learned from the application of an idea. It is the balance of how much is enough - not too much or too little. It is judgment learned from experience.
Whether we learn something from another person, or work with an original idea of our own, we still have to put it to work for us based on our judgment. Maybe thatís why there has been very little written about the traditional development of the spade bit horse. Mino takes what he learned from years of working with old-school California style bridle horse horsemen, and describes the making of a bridle horse. Lots of original drawings illustrate many of the techniques and equipment. And, while no book can take the place of the years of experience that it takes to become a hand at this kind of horsemanship, this book is a good resource.
Every generation can look back and say "It's not what it used to be,Ē but that doesn't mean we need to look for a shortcut and go a different direction.
We can adjust to the modern ways but still embrace the good that the past has to offer. Itís true that what passes for a bridle horse in the arena today is not necessarily what we saw on the open range at the big rodears of years gone by, when good bridle horses were made from wet saddle blankets.
Those horses had the age and physical condition to do the work; the rides were long days, and there was time off to soak up their lessons.
The longevity of the training is what made those bridle horses; they did not have a deadline to meet. There was always tomorrow. I believe the world will be a better place for horses and people if that tradition and knowledge continues to be out there for horsemen to learn.
Thereís a mindset and lifestyle that goes hand in hand with this approach that slows things down, softens things up, and relies on light persuasion rather than hurried force to get the job done.
Maybe some arena horses will even benefit from some of the techniques presented here. Like Ed Connellís classic, Hackamore Reinsman, Minoís book will help preserve that knowledge . . . hopefully for generations to come.
In my experiences there's nothing as satisfying as feeling a good bridle horse, and it is especially rewarding to know that it was because of a feel developed between the two of us.
Minoís book is a good start if you want to go after that experience for yourself."