Mike Bridges is an internationally known clinician and bridle horseman in the California Vaquero Style with more than fifty years of making his living on the back of a horse.
He began learning the Vaquero tradition as a teenager from his grandfather, who advised him to seek out other vaqueros to deepen his knowledge. Mike set out to buckaroo on various ranches in California and Nevada where he learned from those who lived this old tradition. Today he is one of the few horsemen who can still build a traditional California Vaquero "turn at the touch" Bridle Horse.
The California Vaquero Style can be traced to the style of riding brought to Mexico and southern California from the Iberian Peninsula by the Portuguese and Spanish Conquistadors who explored these new worlds. It is this link to the Portuguese and Spanish Conquistadors that resulted in the similarities in horsemanship of the California Vaquero, the Doma Vaquera of the Iberian peninsula and the French School (Dressage). The book, Conquerors -The Roots of New World Horsemanship , by Deb Bennett PhD., provides extensive historical information on this connection.
Mike focuses his clinics towards people who have a basic foundation in soft, not harsh, horsemanship, these days often referred to as Natural Horsemanship.
He has been written about by Robert M. Miller, DVM in Western Horseman in an article titled "Bridges to the Past" in the May 1996 issue. Mike also wrote an excellent article for Western Horseman in July 1998 - "Vaquero-Style Bridle Bits" - What they are and how they work. And, Mike was on the Cover of Western Horseman Magazine with the feature article on the "Secrets of Vaquero Horsemanship" in August of 2006.
For more information on the Origin of the California Vaquero you may find the following link interesting. Vaquero Enterprises - The Origin of the California Vaquero by Ernie Morris
Mike puts on clinic in the United States and Europe on Seeking Refinement, Cow Working, the Hackamore and Bridling. In private clinics he shares more of the knowledge he has accumulate in over 50 years of working with horses and living the Vaquero style.