Thursday, September 10, 2015

Equestrian Acts of the Old West Circus

Circuses were an important part of the old west culture in the 1800s.

Cowboys coming from the dusty cow trails, frontier men after a long work week and miners who were looking to forget there long hard day in the mine came to town looking for excitement and entertainment.

Circuses provided much needed entertainment for all. They had acts like wild animal menageries, clowns, acrobats, trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, brass bands, performing elephants and equestrians who could stand on horseback as they galloped around a center ring.

The circuses date back to Mexican times when shows based on European models came up from the South into California and the southwest around the middle of the 19th century. Circus troupes from the East began to reach settlements in the more accessible regions of Kansas and Nebraska. They traveled in horse drawn wagons over atrocious roads.

By 1880s when railroads had eased the difficulties of transportation, the circus came into its own as the greatest show in the West.

One of those shows was the John Rowe & Co. Pioneer Circus. Here is an excerpt from an article written about the show-

(From the book-“Men of the West-Life on the American Frontier” by Cathy Luchetti)

“ by far the most extensive and elegant organized equestriene establishment that ever appeared in CA…Traveling through the state at an expense of fifteen thousand dollars a month as an added incentive, the seats are carpeted, and attentive and gentlemanly ushers to wait on ladies and family."

The John Rowe & Co. Pioneer Circus was based in San Francisco, Ca and traveled extensively throughout California. As mentioned before, one of the circus acts was the equestrians who could do acrobatics on horseback.

Below is a glimpse into a typical equestrian performance at the Pioneer Circus.

The main acts of the Pioneer Circus were the equestrian events. At show time the audience was treated to all the spectacle and finery the troupe could provide. One of these spectacles was Miss Mary Ann Whittaker, the first female equestrian artist in America. She was ranked among the best in ballet and pantomime. She would ride out into the sawdust-covered ring standing on her milk white horse in pink tights and ruffles with stars and spangles. Then to the amazement of the crowd as she neared a ribbon held in her path 12 feet high by two colorful clowns, she would leap up off the horse and over the ribbon and then land gracefully onto the horses back all while it was speeding around the circus ring. The applause was thunderous and it continued through the evening. Other riders rode in pyramids on two horses with three riders stacked neatly on top of one another while still others did forward and backward flips through rings of fire.

For these amazing acts to work the horses and riders went through hours of rigorous training some of which is not what you would expect. While the horses went through their paces the grooms would carelessly kick cans about the ring, fire guns, and even tie five-gallon cans to the horse's tail! This was all done in training to teach the horse not to sway from its paces for anyone but its trainer. Timing was everything in the ring. An acrobatic rider doing a back somersault would not like it much if he came down from his leap only to find the horse spooked by a child with a firecracker and not be in his appointed spot.

The Circuses not only used their horses for entertainment, but for hauling all the equipment, animals, and performers in wagons. The travel was hard and taxing on all. Between the roads, or lack of, and the weather it made getting from one town to the next very eventful.

Usually the circus would only be able to cover two or three miles in an hour. Many of the stops were 10 to 15 miles apart and a rider would go ahead and mark the forks in the road with a rail so the caravan would go the right way.

Perhaps the worst occurrence would be after getting little or no sleep, fighting their way through a drenching rainstorm, pulling out and repairing wagons, and then hearing the word "lost." This of course meant retracing steps and going through all the problems again.

Rowe's Pioneer Circus played the mountain camps and towns until August when due to expenses they were forced to return to San Francisco. Before leaving they had played Yankee Jim, Iowa Hill, Illinois Town, Dutch Flats, Red Dog, Grass Valley, Rough and Ready, Nevada, Orleans Flat, Oroville, Horsetown, Marysville, Monk Hill, Railroad Flat, West Point, Chinese cap and Columbia.

I can just imagine the excitement of the circus coming to these prairie towns and watching the thrilling acts of the equestrian acrobatics.

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand 
Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand
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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Horses at Disneyland

 The Disneyland Monorail 1959

“If there’s anything to this reincarnation stuff, I’d like to come back to Disneyland as a horse someday!”…this is a quote from an officer from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals who had just finished an inspection at Disneyland. (taken from the Western Horseman magazine)

While cleaning out a closet, I came across some old Western Horseman magazines and one in particular caught my eye. It was the issue from September 1957. 

There was a fascinating article about the horses at Disneyland.

 I took a few photos of some of the pictures in the article and decided to write a quick blog about them. 

The stagecoach (pictured below) was one of many ways a visitor could ride around the Rainbow Desert in Frontier Land. 

They could also choose to ride a Conestoga Wagon or the pack mule train. (below)

In 1957 Disneyland maintained about 200 head of horses. The horses and the ponies were kept in individual toe stalls. The mules and burros had their own corrals and lots. The animals at Disneyland worked no more than 4 hours a day six days a week.

Disneyland also had a full time Farrier by the name of Charles Heumphreus on hand. To oversee the horse operations, Disney hired Mr and Mrs Owen Pope. They manufactured and repaired all the harnesses and horse tack for the horses. Owen was widely known for trailers he manufactured in Ft. Worth.

This is a great photo (below) of the horses all dressed up for the Easter Parade. Disneyland ordered 10 new Easter bonnets especially made for the horses at a total cost of $150.


Here is a close up of the Disneyland Horse and the decorative bridle. This picture is from 1959.

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand Visit Our Unique Store Today Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

New Light Weight Saddle at Buckaroo Leather

Are you looking for a light weight quality ranch saddle that will not break your wallet???

Buckaroo Leather has found a gem of a light weight saddle. It is a Diamond M Wade Saddle, designed by McCall saddles for Diamond M. This saddle is not only light weight, less than 24lbs, but durable and tough. It is comfortable for both horse and rider and it is easy to saddle.

This saddle feels like a feather compared to other Wades!

This ranch saddle uses a new Kevlar Tree. This innovative tree is made from foam and E-Glass creating a light weight and Extremely strong Tree! What is Kevlar? Kevlar fibers are 43 percent lighter than typical fiberglass, 10-times stronger than aluminum, and literally five-times stronger than steel.

All the trees have a ground seat built into the tree making the seats consistent and comfortable!

These saddles are assembled in China but the quality and lightness of this saddle are great for the horseman or women who want an affordable Wade Saddle. Skilled American craftsman helped them all through the production of these saddles.

The cost of this saddle is $1075.

Available in 14, 15 and 16" seats.

Gullet: Quarter Horse 6 1/2" wide x 7 1/2" high
-Cheyenne 2" Cantle: 4" high x 13" wide
-Wade Lite Style Horn: 3" x 3"

The Tree has a 100% lifetime warranty

These saddles are available for immediate delivery and are in Placerville Ca. just give John a call at 530-545-0139

You can also see these saddles at the Gold N Grand All Breed Open Horse Show at Murieta Equestrian Center in Rancho Murieta Ca. this Friday, July 31st - Sunday, August 2nd.

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the 
Western Horseman the safest most durable 
Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand 
Visit Our Unique Store Today  
Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Pinkerton Detective Agency

I think we all know the great western movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

The famous line from the movie, " Who are those guys"?

Well who "were those guys"? They were the Pinkertons' chasing down the "Kid" and Butch Cassidy for the railroad company.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency was hired by the railroads to catch not only Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but also Jesse James.

The History behind The Pinkerton Detective Agency and its founders is truly fascinating. Below is that history-


Allan Pinkerton (25 August 1819 – 1 July 1884) was a Scottish American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the first detective agency of the United States.

Pinkerton was born in Glasgow, Scotland, to William Pinkerton and his wife, Isabell in 1819. The location of the house where he was born is now occupied by the Glasgow Central Mosque. A cooper by trade, he was active in the British Chartist movement as a young man. Pinkerton married Joan Carfrae (a singer) secretly before moving to America. Disillusioned by the failure to win suffrage, Pinkerton emigrated to the United States in 1842, at the age of 23.

In 1849 Pinkerton was appointed as the first detective in Chicago. In the 1850s, he partnered with Chicago attorney Edward Rucker in forming the North-Western Police Agency, later known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency which is still running (but has been renamed) as a subsidiary of Securitas AB. Pinkerton's business insignia was a wide open eye with the caption "We never sleep." As the United States expanded in territory, rail transportation increased. Pinkerton's agency solved a series of train robberies during the 1850s, first bringing Pinkerton into contact with George McClellan and Abraham Lincoln.

Prior to his service with the Union Army, he developed several investigative techniques that are still used today. Among them are "shadowing" (surveillance of a suspect) and "assuming a role" (undercover work). Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Pinkerton served as head of the Union Intelligence Service in 1861–62 and foiled an alleged assassination plot in Baltimore, Maryland, while guarding Abraham Lincoln on his way to his inauguration. His agents often worked undercover as Confederate soldiers and sympathizers, in an effort to gather military intelligence. Pinkerton served in several undercover missions under the alias of Major E.J. Allen. Pinkerton was succeeded as Intelligence Service chief by Lafayette Baker. The Intelligence Service was the forerunner of the U.S. Secret Service. He arrested Rose O'Neal Greenhow, an actress/Confederate spy, by looking through her window.

Following Pinkerton's service with the Union Army, he continued his pursuit of train robbers, such as the Reno Gang and the famous outlaw Jesse James. He was originally hired by the railroad express companies to track down James, but after failing to capture him, the railroad withdrew their financial support and Pinkerton continued to track James on his own dime. After James captured and killed one of Pinkerton's young undercover agents, who was foolish enough to attempt to gain employment at the James farmstead, he finally gave up the chase. Some consider this failure Pinkerton's biggest defeat. He also sought to oppose labor unions. In 1872, the Spanish Government hired Pinkerton to help suppress a revolution in Cuba which intended to end slavery and give citizens the right to vote.

In late June 1884 he slipped on a pavement in Chicago, biting his tongue as he did so. He didn't seek treatment and the tongue became infected, leading to his death on 1 July 1884. At the time of his death, he was working on a system that would centralize all criminal identification records, a database now maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Pinkerton is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago. He is a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

After his death, the agency continued to operate and soon became a major force against the young labor movement developing in the United States and Canada. This effort tarnished the image of the Pinkertons for years. They were involved in numerous activities against labor during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including:
▪ The Homestead Strike (1891)
▪ The Pullman Strike (1894)
▪ The Wild Bunch Gang (1896)
▪ The Ludlow Massacre (1914)
▪ The La Follette Committee (1933-1937)

Many labor sympathizers accused the Pinkertons of inciting riots in order to discredit unions and justify police crackdowns. The Pinkertons' reputation was harmed by their protection of replacement workers ("scabs") and the business property of the major industrialists, including Andrew Carnegie.

Pinkerton was so famous that for decades after his death, his surname was a slang term for a private eye. Due to the Pinkerton Agency's conflicts with labor unions, the word Pinkerton remains in the vocabulary of labor organizers and union members as a derogatory reference to authority figures who side with management.

Pinkerton's exploits were in part the inspiration of the 1961 NBC western television series, Whispering Smith, starring Audie Murphy and Guy Mitchell.

Pinkerton produced numerous popular detective books, ostensibly based on his own exploits and those of his agents. Some were published after his death, and they are considered to have been more motivated by a desire to promote his detective agency than a literary endeavor. Most historians believe that Allan Pinkerton hired ghostwriters, but the books nonetheless bear his name and no doubt reflect his own views.

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the 
Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality 
American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand 
Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand 
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Monday, July 20, 2015

The How and Why of Sidepull Headstalls

The Majestic Collection Sidepull

Side Pull Headstalls are used without a bit, and are very popular in the training arena and for the experienced trail horse and rider.

Many trainers have found the side pull headstall great for horses who do not except a bit very well and are fussy and tense and unable to relax and learn.

SidePull Bitless Headstall Old West Silver

It is also excellent for horses that have mouth injuries or are sensitive due to harsh training conditions.

The side pull is fast becoming the choice in early stages of ground driving and teaching the basics of turning and stopping.

A Quality leather side pull headstall or bridle is designed for the reins to connect to the rings on each side of the horses cheeks allowing the rider to communicate very clearly left and right.

Different nosebands are available depending on how much pressure you want to excerpt on their nose. The single lariat rope nose gives the most in a narrow area across the nose. 

Rolled Nose Sidepull Bitless Bridle

The double rope spreads the pressure out. 

The flat leather nose gives the least amount of pressure for the more trained and experienced horse.

Buckaroo Pro SidePull-Stainless

Trainers in the natural horsemanship arenas have been using different types of side pull headstalls for a long time.

Our family has been dedicated for 30 years in serving the 
Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality American made leather horse tack....... Buckaroo John Brand 
Buckaroo Leather, The Brand to Demand 
Visit Our Unique Store Today 
Buckaroo Leather Shopping Site