Merritt resident Miles Kingdon will be lassoing the hearts of horse riders at his workshop.

The workshop, which will run from April 26 to 28 at the Horse Expo Canada in Red Deer, Alberta, aims to educate riders who not only want to improve their horsemanship and stockmanship, but also want to adapt to the Californio/Vaquero style of horsemanship.

His roots in cowboying are traced back to when he was still a boy living with his family in south Saskatchewan, where he grew up on a mixed farm with cattle, horses and crops. 

“It was a big flat country there so it was better for cattle than it was for farming,” Kingdon said. ”We had horses and the winters were pretty tough.” 

“I had a lot of interests when I was a boy as a lot of kids do, but the horse, I just felt very close to a horse all my life.”

Due to his vast knowledge and passion in the old Californio style of horsemanship, Kingdon decided to pass on his knowledge to other horse riders through workshops.

“I spent my life at it, I guess it’s something I can pass on as far as knowledge and methods and traditions. The old traditions are centuries old and just learn how to teach people. That kind of took a big step out there, outside my comfort zone and my wife’s as well,” Kingdon added. “So, we created this business on teaching these old methods.”

The Californio Vaquero style uses finesse instead of force, signal instead of pressure.

“These methods were seemingly all but lost by some of the old Californios who I’ve talked to. And up to the 1940s, there’s still some people that were doing it, that were riding that way,” Kingdon added. “Nobody knew about them, the ones that were still teaching it. So this old timer Ray Ordway, who was one of the last of the old Californio’s that Bruce Sandifer introduced me to in California. He said that, in his opinion, there was not many people riding that way anymore and there were certainly very few people teaching that way.”

And now, Kingdon sees the resurgence in the Californio traditions, with more and more horse riders wanting to learn about it every day.  

Kingdon also emphasized the importance of building a bond with your horse.

“The horse has carried me into many battles at home again, physical, which would be working on livestock and rough country, having a wreck, calving stampedes and things like that is what I mean by physical,” he added. “But (the horse) has carried me home again in a mental way and spiritual way.”

He added that he is impressed to see the progress that happens in his workshop.

“I’m very honoured to be able to see people come ahead as fast as they’re coming with these methods with their horses and now they’re starting to teach people,” Kingdon said. “It is about a feel … the feeling that the horse has, to communicate with each other without speaking. If we can understand a better way of being with a horse, which is a very forgiving and very adaptable creature that does communicate by feel, in a very big way that can become a holistic way for us to go through this life.”