California Vaquero History St. Francis Retreat Old San Juan Bautista Mission
Vaquero Heritage DaysDates

Vaquero Horsemanship – Heather Kornemann

The Vaquero's Legacy Continues...

Heather Kornemann is a wife & full-time cowboy. From rodeo to cutting horses to the California bridle horse, her pursuit of horsemanship parallels her desire to be a cowboy. The vaquero-style of horsemanship and stockmanship merge her two passions into one. Working side by side with her husband day after day in extreme & beautiful Montana country - she cannot imagine a better life. 

For over 11 years, Montana has been her home with husband Wacey who is the 5th generation in his family to ranch in Carter County located in the southeastern portion of the state. They both are paid a full-time wage working for River Bottom Ranch [in contrast to earlier eras when working-couple wages were paid only to the husband].

A brief look - their year begins in early Spring with heifers calving, then ends in the Fall when last calf is shipped out. Early mornings, long days, late nights in the saddle with nighttime temps dipping 20 degrees below zero, they bring calving heifers to the barn, move healthy cow/calves out, ride through the herds sorting. It's great training for horses as Heather moves quietly horseback, patiently handling the stock, training them to respect horses and her working dogs. Summer months are less stressful but a tme for fixing fences, corrals, general maintenance. Summer also allows time to train and enjoy horses, all bred on the ranch. Fall season means rodearing cattle, sorting heifers & steers, vaccinating and trailing herds back home for shipping, approximately 66 miles round trip from calving pastures to shipping corrals. Winters are tough and long, with daily routine of rolling out hay & busting ice on watertanks. Evening hours are often spent in the leather shop building or repairing gear, preparing for the coming of Spring. 

The Kornemanns' breed, raise and train their own ranch horses striving for good bone, good mind, lots of cow savvy. From the very first touch to the first time in the bridle, Heather works to create & elevate a level of trust in the horse while cultivating his natural sensitivity & responsiveness. "There are so many aspects of making a California-style bridle horse that have fit so well into our program," states Heather...and why the style has made some of the finest ranch horses in history. 
Having a soft seat, soft hands, being in perfect balance with your horse creates fluidity and precision in movement that one actually becomes more efficient & gentler when handling stock. A more upright posture with rear impulsion of a bridle horse creates a lighter footed horse with more sustainable energy. 

She feels honored to have been making a living in the saddle for more than 25 years - from her first day-wages made gathering strays for ranchers while attending college in Kansas; traveling from Texas to Montana finding riding jobs & seasonal day work horseback; in sale barns, feedlots, on wheat cattle in Oklahoma; day-work with punchers in Texas; training cutting horses in Colorado; and riding many colts many miles in various country. If she was horseback every day, that was all that mattered. 

Today ranching in Montana, Heather is honored to be doing her part to perpetrate the traditional style of the Califiornia bridle horse. 

We are honored to have Heather make the trip from Montana and will be horseback at Vaquero Heritage Days and available to speak with all weekend. She looks forward to sharing her support of vaquero traditions.  

(Photograph top of page by Guy de Galard)