Rawhide is untanned leather. In the history of Man, rawhide has a definite place. It has been used for many things necessary for man’s survival and development. But today we associate it mostly with horse equipment and the American and Argentine cowboy. When the Spaniards originally came to North America, they brought with them the horse disciplines that evolved from the time the Moors invaded Spain to the time they came to North America. (A period that spans approximately four hundred years.)

Rawhide basically makes itself. The hide is stripped from the animal and hung to dry. As it dries, the fat is stripped down on the inside and the hair is taken off on the outside. This leaves nothing but the rawhide—and then you can cut the pattern and/or strings for whatever application you are using it for.

This is where the California (Vaquero) Cowboy comes in. In the beginning of American settlement, ranches were located in remote areas of the country. It was necessary to have many skills and crafts at your disposal in order to keep everything running. Vaqueros couldn’t just run over to the local tack store to buy their horse and cattle equipment. So they developed the skills to make what they needed: the jaquima, the bridal, romal reins, quirts, and the reata. Each of these tools were made through rawhide braiding and have been handed down for centuries. This tradition has been proven to be an effective and humane method of teaching the horse his duties in ranch work all these years. There is no better way for a Vaquero.

Written by: Ron Titus