Vaquero Horsemanship – Buddy Montes
The Vaquero's Legacy continues...
Victor "Buddy" Montes & his wife Laurie
Raised on California's historic Tejon Ranch in Kern County, which in 1874 was the 300,000 acre Rancho El Tejon, Buddy continues the Montes family vaquero tradition which began on the Tejon in the late 1800s. He is a 5th generation Native American vaquero and a member of the Tejon Indian Tribe. At a young age on the Tejon, Buddy started at the bottom of the ladder so to speak, working with vaqueros; but over time earned respect of the viejos [old wise ones] who slowly shared their knowledge of building bridle horses. He learned the purpose & techniques for using jaquimas [hackamores], and why it's critical to take the time for the two-rein stage during training, allowing a horse to "pack the bit" before finally riding straight-up-in-the-bridle [spade bit] with a finished horse. The viejos also taught Buddy the art of roping with a braided rawhide riata.
In the 1980s, Buddy with cousin Leonard Montes teamed up and worked the large open-range ranches of Nevada - some had as many as 4 million acres. Remote range work often means long periods of time alone, sleeping in range tents, cooking outdoors and weathering temperature extremes, all part of the buckaroo life. When they returned to California, he worked on the Onyx Ranch in the Kern River Valley and the San Emidio Ranch in Maricopa prior to accepting the "cow boss" position for Booth Ranches based in the San Joaquin Valley where he and wife Laurie live and work side-by-side, horseback most every day, managing the cattle division of Booth. Buddy has never strayed from keeping to the old vaquero traditions in horsemanship, stockmanship and riata roping. It is a way of life for him.
Laurie Montes was not new to ranch life or horses when she first met her future husband. Raised around the lifestyle, she learned to ride as a young child and has started and trained her own colts over the years. She day worked [rode] on many ranches in California. The vaquero-style of horsemanship & stockmanship is one she respects. The slow, easy, less stress on the animals method of working cattle and horses teaches you patience and instills a level of confidence in both horse and rider, something she's watched Buddy achieve many times during the 32 years they've been together.
Buddy enjoys sharing his knowledge and committment to the vaquero lifestyle with those who express a desire toward understanding vaquero age-old traditions...traditions which still hold today. Buddy and Laurie as a team present a weekend "cowboy life" program for youths, hosted by Booth Ranches in connection with a Los Angeles inner-city organization.
Both Buddy and Laurie will be horseback at Vaquero Heritage Days 2016. Check the schedule for Saturday & Sunday horsemen expos. Learn more about this team, visit the outdoor "horsemens booth" during the event.
(photograph at top by Lori McIntosh; lower photograph by Lynda Allan)