Jose Ortez of Vaquero Brand, was one of my talented neighbors at the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity in 2018.
He had a very large booth full of all kinds of handmade cowboy equipment. I was amazed at the variety of skills this man has and the large inventory of items!
2018_vaquero brand-0205Vaquero Brand Booth at the 2018 Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity.
I watched him work while we talked, he was tying a knot for a key fob. He showed me how he started at each end, and created the X’s to start, then continued to fill it in. In this photo he is tying a “tire knot.”
2018_vaquero brand-0178Jose Ortez showing me how he ties a "tire knot."
Ortez has been widowed for many years and raised his daughter by himself since she was 11 years old. His home is a few miles out of San Diego, California where he has lived for 65 years.
I asked how long he has been working his trade, he replied, “For 38 years now.”
Then I followed up with asking, “Who taught you how to create all of this?!” He said, “My grandfather, Isdoro Ortez, taught me. He first taught me how to tie knots, then how to create the Mecate. And eventually rawhide and braiding rawhide Bosels and reins.”
He added, “It takes me about 3 years to truly learn how to tie a new knot.”
With all the inventory I was curious and asked, “Where do you get the hides to make all of this gear?” He replied, “Local butchers.”
His Mecates come in any size his customer requests. They are made from horse hair (mane, tail), Angora and Mohair.
The Bosels are varied in choice sizes; 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2”, 5/8”, and 3/4”.
In addition to them he makes the necessities to go with them; hangers and bridles to put them on.
Jose had a variety of leather and braided products from bridles to spur straps to rawhide rowel reins and even hand tied cinches.
If you would like to order your custom gear, Jose is old school, you will have to give him a phone call: 619-972-2312. Or, you can visit with him like I have at one of his booths at varied events. Look for his Vaquero Brand sign, better yet, just look for the booth with thousands of pieces of cowboy (art) equipment!
Added: I also saw Mr. Ortez at the Red Bluff Bull & Gelding Sale in California. If you ever make it to either of these events, you should look him up!
Next Week: Lorri Myler with Gypsy Cowgirl Art - NV
Howdy! Thank you for choosing to follow along with us!
In order to catch you up to speed, if you are just joining in, I want to let you know about my personal project. My faithful companion, Rider (a gorgeous Australian Cattle Dog) and I, have been traveling on an Adventure, for a few years now… following the Central Overland Pony Express Trail.
Carla and Rider at Round FortRound Fort is between Ibapah and Callao Utah. It is also called Canyon Station. The Pony Express Canyon Station was further West of here though... This rock fortress was built the year after the Pony Express had ended.
Currently we are working on a Photo Journal, that will be an Ebook, with our personal experiences on the road. I started this journey, due to a visit to Fort Churchill, with my family in 2014. I read how it was built to protect the Pony Express Riders and the California Emigrant Trail. I have always been fascinated with the old West, and that of course included the Pony. On that day, surprised to find such a fortress still standing, I wanted to know if there were more! The photos I have captured, of these gems in the desert, will be in a Photo Book/Coffee Table Book. There will also be some History of the Stations, Station Keepers, Hostlers and the Riders.
Very naively I started this journey with the thought that the Pony Express "Auto Route" would drive me conveniently near all the ruins... Well, that was silly, and now I know better!
Please continue to "Ride Shotgun in Spirit" with us as we visit Historical Places along the route, and visit many Museums that house Archives of the daring young, and some not so young, Riders of the Infamous Pony Express!
Occasional we will also share with you many of the other sights seen along the way while traveling through California, Nevada and Utah.
We have decided to stop the book and journey for the time being at Salt Lake City, UT for a couple of reasons;
There are 3 more Divisions from Salt Lake City to St. Joseph Missouri. Lord Willing, we will make a book Two!
We are so blessed to have YOU to share this Journey with us.