R. B. "Dick" Mason Testimonial
See Ed Connell's letters to Dick Mason below.

In June of this year, 2011, I received a very nice phone call from R.B. "Dick" Mason of Collins, Mississippi. He had been in the cattle business years ago, while living in Arizona.

He told me that he had written to my father asking about the term "doubling." In January, 1970, Dick received a two page letter on this very subject describing in minute detail everything that is vastly important and that over the years (in my opinion) has been misunderstood.

After thinking about it for awhile, I decided to place it on my website so that the detailed explanation could be seen and better understood. Thank you Dick Mason for sending the letter to me. Hopefully, it will be of benefit to those interested in the training of the California Reined Stock Horse.

The information in the following letters is for the experienced cowboy, horseman, and horsewoman.

My father typed his letters on an old Smith Corona typewriter, and it is far easier to retype it than to duplicate or scan the original. His letter below is exactly as written.

Leslee Connell Schwartz

Livermore, California
January 13, 1970

Mr. R.B. Mason
11841 No. 67th Street
Scottsdale, Arizona

Dear Mr. Mason:

Just rec'd your letter from the Longhorn Press regarding the book HACKAMORE REINSMAN. Sure glad you like it and are able to use the information contained in it.

You mention that you are from the North country which is Snaffle bit and Grazer bit country. That must be up around Montana thereabouts. I know that is Snaffle and Grazer bit country. Years ago when this country was mostly cattle country there were some really good riders that came out of there. Rough string riders and good ones.

You state that you do not quite understand the term "Doubling". I am not surprised at your question. Over the years since the book has been out, (1952) I will state off hand that I have rec'd at least 500 letters regarding the term "doubling". The reason that this has happened is that when the book was being published, the Publisher got a little scared that it was not going to go over, as this was the first time that a book of this kind was ever published, and he kept writing to me to cut it down to a bare minimum, so I cut out too much on "doubling".

Doubling is known also as "pulling", also in the vernacular of the old time horseman was known as taking the horse's head away from him, commonly known as busting.

Doubling is the most important basic principle of all. First, It is the basis of control of the horse without which the horse could run away with the rider commonly known as stampeding. By taking the horse's head away from him around to the side, remember, it breaks the stride of the horse and he cannot run. His stride is broken with the first pull, although doubling is a series of pulls, not just one. After each pull his head goes back straight again until he is stopped and turned around the way the rider wants him to go. When doubled the horse's head is never held around to the side as he can learn to run with his head in that position and then he is on the road to being spoiled. Always let his head go back straight after each pull, and the rider can change sides too, if he does not stop quickly enough.

Doubling should be done when the horse is started, not after as then it will be a little difficult to get him coming in the right direction. It is the basis of control of any saddle horse and it does not hurt him in any way. No matter what the horse is going to be trained for he should be doubled thoroughly at the start.

Through doubling the horse learns respect for the hackamore and he will start to lighten up on it. He has to be light or he cannot be trained to stop and turn correctly. He has been doubled and he knows what the pull is to make him follow his nose around.

Then, when teaching him to stop with the light pull he pays attention to the pull. That is caused through doubling. When teaching him to turn right (correctly), he pays attention to the light pull to the side which goes back to doubling again.

I want to stress this fact to you now. Never double the horse too much or he will learn to take his head away from you and then you are in trouble, too. Double him when he needs it and then leave him alone. They all need it once in awhile. When he does not want to pay attention to your signals reach down and get him and he will respect you for it. It is better to always pull the horse against a board fence or a long barn and pull his head into (towards) the obstacle. This makes him stop short and turn short at the start.

From your letter you do not know anything about doubling a horse so you will have to learn how to do it. There is a knack to it which you can acquire after you get acquainted with doing it. I will give you the basic principle of doubling which you will have to practice to get so you can do it right.

Remember, doubling is a hard pull to the side with the rein gripped half way down to the heel knot of the hackamore. Remember this: always pull when the horse's front feet are leaving the ground, on the way up. Doing this enables the horse to get his hind feet up under him. If the pull comes at the top of the movement he will hit the ground with all four feet. If the pull comes on the way down in the movement he will hit on his front feet. At the start it is always better to double the horse while he is galloping against an obstacle. It is always better to not let the horse run too fast before doubling. If he tries it, pull him before he gets going fast.

I would like to have you remember this; we are concerned here with the reined horse only. Practically all the reined horse does is set (stop) and turn and he has to learn how to do it correctly. A smooth stop without bouncing with his hind feet up under him. A turn half way on his hind feet in the right place or he cannot do it correctly. It takes time to teach this to the horse and he cannot learn it over night. It takes time and the horse should be given time without crowding or he will spoil. There is nothing nicer to watch than a real top reined horse perform.

In order for the horse to do all this correctly his hind feet have to be in the right place or he cannot do it. Therefore, the horse's feet are positioned by the way the reins are handled on his head only. There is no other way to position his feet. For the rider to position his feet he must make the horse light on the Hackamore. He has to pay attention to the slight pull on the rein at all times.

The only place in the Western Hemisphere that the reined horse was ever made was in California. In years gone by the Southwest never made the reined horse but they made some very good self working horses on cattle. They never doubled their horses and the same for the North as the Grazer bit went up there with the early day trail herds with the Tejanos.

In the last several years I have been corresponding with a famous European horseman who is also a historian and he tells me that the only place in Europe where they break horses, that doubles the horse is in Andalucia, Spain. So that is where the Californian got the doubling through the Conquistadores in Mexico, and then up to California with the Mission Padres and the Mexican occupation of California in the 1800's. Very interesting to look back on.

Well Mr. Mason, I have given you quite a resume of the term "doubling" and I hope it will clear up some of the things that have been bothering you regarding it.

Anything else I can help you with let me know and I will try to get you straightened out on it.

Best regards,

Yours truly,

Ed Connell
P.O. Box 762
Livermore, California 94550

P. O. Box 762
Livermore, California
June 24, 1973

Mr. R. B. Mason
11841 N. 67th Street
Scottsdale, Arizona

Dear Mr. Mason,

I want to thank you for your very nice letter and I want you to know that I appreciate it. In my estimation there is nothing that can give a person greater satisfaction than in breaking, they call it training now, a real good horse. From your letter I gather that you have done that.

I am very happy to know that my books have helped you. Everything is in them that a person needs to know to break a good horse. But I have learned that there are many people who cannot follow through with the information given, so, it takes a little longer for those people.

The main trouble today, I have found out, is that everything is so speeded up, and the young people today have been raised that way, that they want to get things done in a hurry. They have no idea of how a horse's mentality works, and a good horse cannot be trained in a hurry. His mentality is the same as it was 2000 years ago. He can only learn things so fast and no faster. The minute they start crowding him they wind up with a spoiled horse.

As I mentioned above, there is nothing that gives me greater satisfaction than taking a string of young horses, and as they go ahead in their work, watch them progress in knowledge, and ability to get the job done. Also, in the last few years I have carried on quite a large amount of correspondence with horse people that have written to me about different methods in training horses. They have all been working with my books and trying to follow through. I always answer them and try to help them with their problems.

From your letter Mr. Mason, I get just as much satisfaction out of knowing that you have made a top horse, as if I had been riding the horse myself. That is what I have been striving for, not to let this style of horsemanship die out as it was doing when I first wrote the books.

But, in the last six months I have been slowed down. Last winter I got crippled up due to an old injury that happened over 40 years ago. If I had been on the ball I could have prevented it but did not know until too late. It was just like getting hit over the head with a baseball bat, and brought home to me the fact that old Father Time is catching up on me. I can never hit the ball again, as I have been doing all my life. That in itself is terrible. I can still ride and all of that but I cannot keep it up for any length of time. It has boiled down to physical inability. The doctor has told me that I am wearing out slowly.

I would very much like to meet you Mr. Mason, and get personally acquainted with you. Right now I am in Livermore but last week I got burned out, and lost about all I had including manuscripts I had ready to go. Will have to write them over again.

One thing though, I managed to save all my riding gear that I have had for over 40 years, most of my clothes etc. But, lost many thousands in other things that cannot be replaced. Will have a notice in the Western Horseman, and Horse & Rider stating for all the people who have written to me, to write again as I lost all my correspondence addresses. When I got burned out I had 18 letters to answer and I do not know their names or addresses. I do not want to let them down.

Just where I will be from now on I do not know at this time. But, my mail will follow me so keep in touch. I might even wind up in Scottsdale yet. Quien Sabe.


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