This is kinda crazy, I know… But I just love Western stuff. Even though I ride in totally English/Endurance type of gear, if I could turn back the clock, I’d walk on a boardwalk, dress up like a wrangler and ride my mount into the sunset…
I am so enamored with the Western culture that I purposefully will stop at any ghost town and oogle over any True West antiques. Actually, I oogle over any well made Western article, even if I don’t really agree with them (spurs and big ol’ bits…). So today, I’m going to bring you along as I use the internet to search down my Western fix for the day.
How did this particular search for today start…? Well, several years ago, HORSE AND MAN interviewed the wranglers and their mules from the Grand Canyon. (You can watch the video here.) Everything about that interview was amazing but I remember distinctly how important their “wild rags” were for this event. I had no idea what a wild rag was but evidently they are the fashion statement for the Western set. All the cowboys were comparing their fancy scarves for our shoot day. Basically, the “wild rag” is the scarf they wear around their necks. Sometimes a scarf slide goes with it.
I never forgot that. And today, for some reason, I decided to hunt down those wild rags. But, lucky me, during my search, I found more! I found a treasure trove of Western regalia all in one website! Come prowl around the CALIFORNIA CLASSICS website with me!
THE CALIFORNIA CLASSICS WEBSITE
This is a site that caters to the Vaquero lifestyle.
I’m not exactly sure what a VAQUERO STYLE is, but I like the look of it. Well, I guess that isn’t totally true. I do know about bosals and about chaps, but that’s about it. Since I am a bitless person, I totally am into the idea of the bosal. However, this site is more than just vaquero and bosals. This site is the whole enchilada. It is robust and full of everything a Cowboy would want. The designs are unique as well as top notch.
The whole reason I ended up on this site was because of their wild rags. Evidently, the woman behind California Classics, Dorothy Rogers, is called the “scarf lady”. So, I kinda think she specializes in these wild rags. When I went to her page, I saw that she has been written up in just about every Cowboy publication there is…
Anyway, if I wanted a wild rag, I would purchase one from her. I loved her silks and her designs. Yup, I see why they call her the Scarf Lady!
I’m not even into bits… I don’t use them. But, I had to awe over this display… just the art of it all got me jazzed! If you are into decorative bits, go to their bit page and check it out.
I love the idea of chinks. I don’t need them and I’d look silly riding around the trails in them, but I like them nonetheless. I thought these were really pretty and well constructed. Of course, there are lots more… You can special order anything you’d like.
I don’t use spurs. But, I like the sound they make while walking and I like the look. Someday, I will probably purchase spurs just so that I can get all dressed up like Kid Shaleen from the movie CAT BALLOU. Anyway, there were many to choose from…
WHAT IS A REIN CHAIN?
Now this handy item I might just incorporate into my equine apparel. They are chains you attach to your headstall and to your reins as an extension so that your leather reins don’t get wet. I love this idea. It probably has been around for centuries but I just discovered it here on this site.
WILD RAG SLIDES
We probably know of these as ‘scarf slides’ out here in our fashion world. But, I like the title of Wild Rag Slide better! Anyway, it is basically a cool concha that has an appropriate back so that you can secure your Wild Rag. Fun! Just another way to adorn your Westerny self!
Speaking of conchas, there were zillions on this site. Many I had never seen before. I like it when that happens. I think if you called them, they could come up with anything for you. In fact, I did just that. I emailed them a photo of my LG bridle and asked if they could figure out a way to dress up my bridle by adding a concha to the wheels. Aaron from California Classics said, Sure! He immediately suggested using a martingale/breastplate concha and figuring out how to attach it. Cool! I cannot wait!
Sounds like a KC and the Sunshine Band song and I have no idea what it does.
It looks like a handmade rope and I would use it that way. (I’m not a fan of tie-downs, if that is what it is.) Anyway, these looked very nicely made and very attractive.
Of course, no cowgirl would be complete without a fabulous headstall. There were many…
What I liked was that this headstall was made for a Varian. The Varian Family are the people who owned the Cowboy Camp that I went to last year. I loved it! (You can read about it here.) I felt all warm and fuzzy when I saw that California Classics made gear for a Varian…
Well, this was kind fun… You can order a gun holster.
Now, I’m not into guns — at all. But this reminded me of when I was a kid. I don’t think you could really get away with walking around town with your guns attached to your hips. But, when I do one day dress up like Kid Shaleen, I will need one of these in black!
Isn’t this pretty? I aspire to have my horses so well trained that they work perfectly in a bosal.
I do use curbs. I thought this was a very soft and nice piece of equipment. I also liked their “reversible” design. It has different edges so you can have the softer side or the not so soft side at work…
I don’t know about you, but I would like to be transported for just one day (or one week) back in time to really study the wardrobes of that era. I’m always fascinated by Western attire. I still think the best thing about the movie SILVERADO was the wardrobe. Loved it!
I hope you enjoyed this romp through Vaquero land and California Classics as much as I did! Please go to the site and click around! You might find your Western gem!
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
The August Bucket Fund will benefit the charity BHFER. To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate $5, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)
What a lovely surprise! Of course you can use these pics. All but one are ours. Am working on a book on the hackamore, but some of those photos are not ours as are a few photos I have lined up for the bits and bitting book that should help to open doors for folks as to the whys and wherefores, etc. If nothing else, all of our hand work for gear is authentic vaquero style with a few exceptions.
Get down ropes are the “leads” that we use when we “get down” off of the horse. We don’t believe in tie downs either. We tie these around the neck (either low & moved up or high) so that we NEVER lead or touch the reins when on the ground. The mouth is to be preserved and protected at all costs. So is the nose, cartilage and the nerve bundles under the chin.
This is essential in the bridle horse vaquero culture. Remember that Tom and Bill Dorrance who were instrumental in what has changed into natural horsemanship rode vaquero style with hackamores, spade bits and spurs. It is the educated use and understanding of these along with the relationship with the horse that makes the difference. They were friends/mentors of ours. We still visit with the family.
The Varian in question is Sheila Varian who is the top Arabian Horse breeder in this area (actually in the world), inducted into the Cow Girl Hall of Fame and who is a dedicated follower of the CA style (bridle horses) done the right way as a partnership. Glad you were able to go to the V6 Varians in Parkfield. Zee gathered up championships in her day in working cow horse. Those Varians are also fabulous. In fact, their cousin, Sheila, does a teaching series there, too.
There are some fun events with gun rigs that you might like to look into. There is a John Wayne Shootout set for SLO in Sept. and costumes are a must. It’s basically target shooting with theater involved. You’d fit right in.
Part of our commitment to the tradition is sharing our heritage. This includes why something is made a particular way and how it works properly. We don’t believe in customers and hitting links. We believe in communication and relationship so that we remain accessible as a resource as the riders grow and develop.
This carries through to the nearly 6,000 scarves I have made by hand the old fashioned way with a needle and thread from small dog sizes to very large men with 20 in. necks. We work with people to get the right colors and toughness for their purposes whether for city or ranch work/play.
When a limited ed. mascada is ordered/bought, we help to teach a variety of ways and uses for it. As long as I am able, it also means that we want the folks to look good so…if a dog gets hold of a scarf or something else happens, the people are told to put it in an envelope and ship it back. I will endeavor to repair it or cut it down so that they can still use it and look good doing it. The only cost for this is shipping. Some folks have huge collections of my silks here and abroad. There are 70 something silks sent from here in one man’s wardrobe in Japan.
Yes, the conchos, etc. are limitless and made by the oldest western silversmiths. This family started in CA in 1870’s and opened their own shop in 1884, I believe. Gold, gold fill and sterling—heavy—is what they work with. They were the ones who typed “Visalia” for horse and human accessories.
Just can’t say enough about the lovely surprise that you afforded us today. Many thanks. We are looking forward to working with you on a number of projects. Keep up the good work and the communication. There is so much to learn and share.
Dorothy and Aaron, California Classics