The Spanish Spade

    Learn all about the Spanish Spade bit.

    The Spanish Spade The Spanish Spade

    May/June Issue Survey

    We'd love to get your feedback on our latest issue!

    May/June Issue Survey May/June Issue Survey

    Western Wedding – Douglas Lake Ranch

    Planning a western wedding? Get inspired by the Jacob's wedding.

    Western Wedding – Douglas Lake Ranch Western Wedding – Douglas Lake Ranch

    Smart Showmanship

    Top reining horse trainer, Jordan Larson, gives tips on how to have a great run.

    Smart Showmanship Smart Showmanship

    Wild West Cocktail – Bakon Caesar

    TGIF. Our version of the Bakon Caesar.

    Wild West Cocktail – Bakon Caesar Wild West Cocktail – Bakon Caesar

    Western Home – Chilco Ranch

    Get inspired by Janet Miller's amazing log home, located in the Chilcotin area.

    Western Home – Chilco Ranch Western Home - Chilco Ranch

The Spanish Spade

A complicated bit, deconstructed. 

By Rod Honig

A Santa Barbra cheek spade, by Lane Dilworth. The spade is a mainstay in Vaquero culture, but its use is questioned heavily by modern day skeptics.

A Santa Barbra cheek spade, by Lane Dilworth. The spade is a mainstay in Vaquero culture, but its use is questioned heavily by modern day skeptics.

Much maligned, misunderstood and sometimes even feared, the spade bit has been in the hands of horsemen in one form or another for centuries. The current versions we are familiar with date back to the vaqueros of Old California. So what makes a spade bit and how was it really intended to work in a horse’s mouth?

Spade bits are made with many different cheek configurations, with varying height to the mouthpiece or spoon. The size of the mouth is a combination of the spoon height and the staple height (the staple being the inverted U-shaped piece rising about the solid bar joining the cheeks.) The spoon can be found in a simple teaspoon or a shape that resembles a violin, sometimes referred to as an alligator mouthpiece. The common parts of a spade bit are the solid cannon bar, the staple with a copper “cricket” roller in the middle, the spoon, and braces arching from the cheek just above the bar to each side of the spoon and wrapped in copper or with copper beads on them. Either slobber chains or a slobber bar join the two cheeks at the bottom and rein chains are attached to stirrups or loops at the bottom of the cheek pieces. Named very traditionally, cheek pieces can be of the Santa Paula, Santa Susanna, Las Cruces or even cavalry styled s-shanks variety. The most traditional and prevalent design is some variation of the Santa Barbra cheek. Bit makers speak of this cheek being the most balanced as the shape itself lends to the bit returning to a neutral position quickly and easily.

Many people question the form and function of the mouth of the spade bit. Before you jump to inhumane conclusions, perhaps consider a few facts. The intention always was and is for the horseman to first train the horse through signal via a hackamore and then transition to an under-bridle ‘bosalita’ in conjunction with a spade bit. It was all about teaching signal only, not the force of pull. To protect the mouth, the horse is able to pick up the bit with the tongue, therefore the solid bar (one that does not collapse like a nutcracker) and braces serve to give it more surface area. The horse could use the braces to hold the bit easily and receive signal clearly. By pure physics, the more surface are that comes in contact with the horses tongue, the more any weight or pressure would be distributed if deployed.

Then there is the physiology of the mouth. A human can fit their entire arm in a horse’s mouth, so at the point where the spoon could touch the palate, the horse’s mouth is quite tall in structure. With a properly adjusted curb strap to curb bit rotation, it is a system designed to protect not harm.

Lastly, an essential part to remember is that the educated bridle horse, at te stage that he is introduced to the spade, has developed a headset that is conductive to carrying the bit in a manner such that through balance, the spade points towards the inside of the mouth, not the roof.

As per the old saying, a bit is only as gentle as the hands using it and the classic spade bit was designed for skilled hands – hands with patience and time to develop a signal.

May/June Issue Survey

MayJune15CoverWe would love to get your feedback on our May/June issue. To thank you for your time spent doing the survey, we are giving away a pair of Professionals Choice splint boots as a prize – we will randomly draw one winner from all of the responses received.

The survey closes after a definitive number of responses so don’t delay.

The survey only takes five minutes to complete, and we truly do appreciate your feedback!

Click here to take the survey 

(Readers and subscribers to the print or digital magazine only, please)

Western Wedding – Douglas Lake Ranch

A beautifully styled wedding set at the historic Douglas Lake Ranch.

Jacobs---couple1

Their story: Tina Stone grew up on Vancouver Island, a long way from Douglas Lake Ranch. But rodeo and ranch life drew the B.C. girl to the stunning rolling hills, and in 2003, she took a job on the illustrious ranch. Little did she know that’s where she would find the person she would begin to share her life with 10 years later.

Cameron Jacobs is the son of Stan Jacobs, well-known cow boss of Douglas Lake Ranch. Born in Merritt, British Columbia, and guided by his father, Cameron spent his entire childhood cowboying.

When the two met during the first week of Stone being employed at the ranch, her first reaction was hesitant.

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, he’s cute!’ But being that he was three years younger than me, I held my thoughts to myself. After about a year of being close friends, it wasn’t too long until he had me convinced that he was worth it!”

The next eight and a half years took them on some great adventures. They had a stint living in nearby Kelowna; they spent two months in Oklahoma while Cameron attended horseshoeing school; they lived in Alberta, working and making new friends; then ended up back home in Douglas Lake. After that many years and that many miles, Stone knew that Jacobs was what she wanted.

“Finally, he took me for a picnic lunch at Quilchena Falls and popped the question. Then it all began. I had waited a very long time for this moment, I wasn’t waiting any longer, so I decided to plan our wedding in four months. He proposed on May 25th and we were married September 14th. There were some crazy times but it all came together . . . and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.”

Jacobs---bride

Dress: Bought at Viva Bridal in nearby Kamloops, Tina's dress was a beautiful fit and flare with a sweetheart neckline. It was made from a 'romantique' colored satin under an ivory lace overlay with a gorgeous matching belt that added a little bling. Perhaps her favorite part was the stunning nine-foot, satin edged vail. Bridesmaids: Trina's ladies wore locally sourced 'rosewood' coloured dresses from David's Bridal, accented by great boots. Their jewelry was handmade by one of the bridesmaids, adding the perfect personal touch.

Dress: Bought at Viva Bridal in nearby Kamloops, Tina’s dress was a beautiful fit and flare with a sweetheart neckline. It was made from a ‘romantique’ colored satin under an ivory lace overlay with a gorgeous matching belt that added a little bling. Perhaps her favorite part was the stunning nine-foot, satin edged vail.

Jacobs---couple

Bridesmaids: Trina’s ladies wore locally sourced ‘rosewood’ coloured dresses from David’s Bridal, accented by great boots. Their jewelry was handmade by one of the bridesmaids, adding the perfect personal touch.

Jacobs---ceremony

Men’s Attire: Cameron, along with the other guys in the bridal party, sported unwashed Wranglers with ivory shirts and grey vests from Moores Mens Wear. The groom and the best man wore a paisley tie, setting them apart from the others, who wore burgundy. Cameron’s western inspired jacket was lent to them by a friend for the big day.

Jacobs---groomsmen

Boots: Nothing less than Macie Beans for the bride.

Make-up: Trina enlisted the talents of Sheeradiance Salon, based in Kamloops, for a flawless face.

Cake: The beautiful western-inspired cake was homemade by Courtney Brewer, a young girl was also resides on Douglas Lake Ranch.

Jacobs---rings

Favours: Trina and Cameron’s favours were little white buckets with a hand written date and names, penned by Trina’s mother. They were filled with a little candy, and could also be topped off at the candy bar.

Jacobs---favours

Flowers: Only $160 was enough to deck out the wedding with stunning flowers, which included calla lilies and gerbera daisies.

Jacobs---wedding-party

Date: September 14, 2013

Photographer: Captured Moments Lifestyle Photography and Design

Ceremony Location: Douglas Lake Ranch, British Columbia

Reception Location: Salmon Lake Resort

Smart Showmanship

Larson believes the key to success in the show pen is preparedness in your home arena.

NRHA Professional Jordan Larson gives insight and tips on how to prepare your horse for the “big day” and how to show smart. By Deanna Beckley Becoming a good showman is an art that takes time, practice experience and feel, with a dose of confidence and a little “natural talent”. When you watch someone have […]

[Continue reading…]

Wild West Cocktail – Bakon Caesar

South of the border, the flagship cocktail of this savory bacon-infused vodka may be the Bakon Mary, but here in Canada, we tastefully defer to the Caesar.

BY INGRID SCHULZ Could there possibly be an alcohol-based potion more redneck than a potato-stilled vodka infused with bacon? We think not. Which is we found it mildly surprising that Bakon vodka, first developed in 2009, has quickly become the new rage in flavored vodkas and is a fast favorite at high end lounges all […]

[Continue reading…]

Western Home – Chilco Ranch

Miller's home is decorated by a diverse collection of modern and traditional styles of western artwork.

Janet Miller’s dream home in British Columbia’s interior illustrates why so many pioneers were drawn into the lure of the mighty Chilcotin area.  By Deanna Kristensen Nestled on the property of the historical Chilco Ranch at Hanceville, British Columbia, Miller’s log home would tantalize the heart of any western romantic. Since the 1880’s, the Chilcotin […]

[Continue reading…]

Montana Ranch Horse Sale

Lot 25 "Im A Bama Gangster" consigned by Toby and Amy Vineyard of Arvada, Wyoming and purchased by Gary Funk of Frazer, Montana for $25,000

The ninth annual “REAL” Ranch Horse Invitational Sale was held April 18th at the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, west of Billings, Montana. The sure enough ranch horses brought and previewed fresh by the people who make their living on them, drew a large and enthusiastic crowd, and produced an ever increasing sale average. The […]

[Continue reading…]

Western Careers – Equine Veterinarian

Erin-Shield

Not many people have the gumption to give up a successful career and start into post-secondary schooling again. Yet, that’s exactly what this cowgirl did. Here’s why she’ll never look back.  Interview by Jenn Webster • Photograph by Deanna Kristensen My great-grandfather homesteaded in Millarville, AB, in 1902. My grandmother was part of the very first […]

[Continue reading…]

The Buckaroo Saga

reata1

BY ROD HONIG Welcome to our new column on vaquero lore. In the future we’ll examine the impressive and functional gear and trappings of the vaquero and buckaroo, but first, a history lesson. The word “vaquero” conjures all sorts of images in one’s mind. But who were these skilled ropers and handlers of livestock? By […]

[Continue reading…]