CC Logo

The Quirt

CC Bosal
Home Range
Products & Services
Pony Express
Gift Corral
CA Bridle Horse Insights
CA Hackamore Horse Insights
Snaffle Horse Insights
A Rawhider's Journal
Informative Videos
Useful Links
Trail Tales
About Us
Ordering Information

by Aaron Winchell & Dorothy Rogers (Winchell)

Quirts are rarely used now, but the vaqueros considered them an important tool in hackamore training. Its decline may come from an attitude change.

There is more to the CA quirt than a “whip.” Like much of the CA gear, be it the bosal or the spade bit, small details contribute to the function. Many of these are not understood well today.

There are great private collections here with decorative quirts that break the standard rules for using quirts braiding patterns, colors, varying knots and flexibility.

Weight is the important thing with a quirt. The braided handle should be rigid with substance. Some load the handle with buckshot since it should be the heaviest part of the quirt. A little weight can be added to the long button above the loop the popper hangs off. The popper can be made pointed for a bridle horse (giving a little sting) or rounded for a louder “pop” on the ends for a hackamore horse. These can also come in handy when moving cattle.

A CA quirt is designed more to scare or startle a horse rather than to sting him. They are generally 16 inches long before the leather popper. Most of the old quirts from various makers based on the length and the weight that we have handled, are very similar. There are some extensive private collections of quirts here on ranches The weight is there to make it accurate so it "goes where you send it.” Most of the usefulness is in the audible “pop.” The Spanish term is “pajahuela” (pa hah ooh A law).

When needing to get a colt’s attention, a quick pop with a quirt is all it takes. This usually isn't a hard swing, but primarily letting the weight of the quirt do the work. This goes back to those details that are so important.

In other disciplines, the spur is used for this or to cause a horse to liven up. In the CA tradition, the spur is used much like the bit: for signals. If you need a horse to jump out quickly, a jab from a spur will cause him to hump up and pause first. A “pop” with the quirt will send him out.

When roping, if the quirt would be in the way, you simply hang the “la cuarta”” on your saddle. An option was to put it around the rider’s waist almost like a belt. A quirt is complete with a small ring at the top of the handle. A few will run it through the wrist loop, but the best are braided into the top of the handle. Another option for the roper is to undo the romal from the reins and tie it around his waist while roping or stuff it in a cantle pack out of the way.

If you are actively using the quirt, then loop the hanger over two or three fingers in the center of your right hand in preparation to swing the quirt into from side to side over your head. If you want to train your horse to move to the left or right, simply turn the quirt upside down to use the handle to firmly tap to cue and guide the horse’s side to-ward a gate, etc.

When Ray Hunt began to travel to spread this philosophy, he made the Madonna Inn and family in SLO home away from home holding clinics in their arena. Ray was taken aback as participants in the clinics realized that they could not rope or place a rope to the same effect that he could. At that, he asked for the participant’s rope halter. Raymond smiled (with a twinkle in his eye) as he applied the rope halter to moving the horse where, in what direction and at what speed he desired. If you pack a lass rope on your saddle, you can do about the same with some practice.

The standard bridle rein romal is generally doubled over itself, usually stitched and features a leather popper for sound and tickling. It is attached to the end of the bridle reins with a piece of whang (either knotted or buttoned) or a proper connector similar to the CC button rein connectors. Applied for discipline or training, but never in anger, remember just as we protect the mouth, we must protect and encourage the relationship. Your horse should not be afraid of it or you.

This continues into the two rein and straight up into the bridle. The romal attached to the bridle reins is a type of quirt. Just like spurs, it is a tool that can be misused. Applying it takes practice and judgement to use correctly without harm to the relationship you and the horse have built. If a persistent problem exists, application to one side and then over the rider’s head to the other can be effective. This is for extreme cases, however.

No stock saddle is complete without a small snap at the corner of the seat (or near the base of the fork). Some will attach via the saddle strings (which are also mandatory).

Only seen on the West Coast, the Dorrance style removable romal is more akin to a long quirt than the standard romal with a “fall” is also detachable. It is braided on custom CC's bridle reins. A specialty, the Dorrance romal/quirt, is stiffer than the standard. It is often set up to unbutton from the reins to use separately especially when in the corral. Bill Dorrance himself coached Aaron on building these.

NOTE: When one rides with bridle reins (they have a romal which functions as a quirt), there is no need to carry a quirt in addition.

If you need a quirt, please see Ordering Your Quirt for more information.


Copyright 1996-2019.
All information and screens appearing on this Site including documents, services, site design, text, graphics, logos, images and icons, as well as the selection and arrangement thereof, are the sole property of Dorothy L. Rogers unless otherwise specified.
Except as otherwise required by applicable law, any reproduction, distribution, modification, retransmission, or publication of any copyrighted material is strictly prohibited without the express written consent of the copyright owner
All rights not expressly granted herein are reserved.

Have questions or need information?
You can email us at or call us at 805-434-3858.
If you are calling and we are out, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can.