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Vaquero Horsemanship - Jo Johnson


The Vaquero's Legacy Continues !   

Celebrating "The Morgan Breed in Early California"

An experienced and long-time Morgan stock horse breeder and trainer, Jo Johnson is an advocate for California's vaquero traditions and the bridle horse.  Her ranch in Sanger, California is aptly named "JaF -  Morgan Stock Horses" [Jaquima a Freno - Spanish meaning hackamore to bridle] where the passion is strong for both the Morgan horse and vaquero-style California bridle horse training. Morgans have a long history of being bridle horses.

A believer in taking the time to build a strong foundation on young horses, soft in the halter & snaffle bit, ready for the hackamore stage with solid physical and emotional capabilities to carry them throughout their life no matter what discipline their owners choose. For Jo, training a bridle horse takes a commitment of at least 5 years to progress through the stages which she begins with a snaffle, transitions to the hackamore with bosal and mecate becoming smaller & lighter as colt progresses; goal being to respond with a whisper of a touch as he is introduced to the "two rein" stage carrying the spade bit. Although young Foundation-bred Morgans sold at JaF Ranch are often in the snaffle (generally the stage of training at time of sale), Jo knows they have been bred with the natural athletic ability & mindset to go on and become true bridle horses. Her ranch name honors all who continue the art of building California bridle horses.

Born and raised in a rural ranching naturalist environment, horses became part of her life at an early age. During school years, she had opportunities to work with and ride many breeds experiencing their strengths, weaknesses and breed characteristics which led her to favor the working Morgan [as did many early California vaqueros]. The Morgan's conformation, mentality, good feet & legs and solid physical aptitude were strong attributes for covering a lot of country under ssaddle. The term "bridle horse" refers to a spade bit horse, a horse straight-up-in-the-bridle, and the baroque style of the Morgan lends itself well to carrying a bit as the spade. 

Developing her personal Morgans as bridle horses she always marvels how they seem to instinctively work well whether in the hackamore or bit and finds this versatile breed excels in the arena, open cattle ranges, obstacle courses, remote packing or long distance trail riding. Jo is an avid horse packer and naturalist. She has authored numerous articles on wilderness backcountry riding & training techniques; her personal bridle horsemanship journey; and frequently holds off-site horsemanship workshops.

She readily acknowledges the many great horses and incredible human beings who have taught her so much over the years in her never-ending journey with horses and learning about oneself. 

Jo Johnson will be horseback during the VHD weekend sharing aspects of her dedication to California's vaquero traditions and the working Morgan. She looks forward to meeting you.


Visit website: 

Make sure while visiting the JaF web site, read article about the "Morgan's Role Out West",  its significant role in California's vaquero heritage - by Brenda L. Tippin with photos.