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Baca, "Joty" Doroteo

About | Abstract


Baca has been a breeder of Spanish Heritage horses for fifty years in the Belen/Tomé Land Grant area, where he was born. Includes several discussions about his Spanish Heritage horses and those developed or claimed by others. Also discusses points of local history, including route of El Camino Real and the Oñate Trail through his neighborhood.

Interviewee "Joty" Doroteo Baca, male, born in 1927
Date Range 1920s-2000
Date & Location June 5 and July 1, 2004, Baca Residence, Belen, N.M.
Project Farm and Ranch Folks
Region Central New Mexico
Number of Tapes 4
Transcribed August 16, 2009
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Tape 1, Side A

Talks about Spanish Heritage horses being the foundation stock of most breeds in the U.S. Reviews local and personal history and points of interest. Born 1928, in wagon near the Los Lunas railroad tracks while trying to get to the doctor. Route 66 ran through Bosque Farms. The Baca farm is on part of the original Tomé Land Grant. Talks about Camino Real's route along river, crossing on Baca land. Discusses family history, Bacas and Sanchos came as Spanish colonists to New Spain with Oñate.

Gives an overview of Spanish exploration, loosely connected to family history. Origin of Baca name is Cabeza de Vaca. During Mongolian conquest of Europe (12th century), sheepherder in Steppes of Bosque marked trail with cow skulls for Spanish King through mountain pass. Was awarded the Baca Coat of Arms, which has six skulls. Explains origin of name Galveston (Texas). Talks about Spanish travel routes in America, missions, and Indians.

Talks about different types of horses. Spanish horses bred specifically for colonizing. Were smaller, tougher, and had more endurance. Characteristics of Egyptian, Arabian, and Mongolian horses.

Tape 1, Side B

Spanish Barbs trace back from Mongolian barbs. Arabian horses were smaller with greater stamina and endurance.

More overview of Spanish colonial history in context of need for horses. Original characteristics of Spanish horses altered after five generations. Began breeding the Spanish traits of horses in 1955. Colonial horse does not exist in Spain anymore. Horses of America (HOA) has different strain, but is still colonial Spanish. Baca's strain is different from HOA. Southwestern strain, eastern strain--all the same blood. Mustangs are not Spanish horses, are wild.

Talks about authoritative books and specialists of horses. Dr. Sponenberg book on Spanish colonial horses. University of Kentucky veterinarian Dr. Gus Cothran. Believes that Carlos Lopopolo's "New Mexican" horse claims are not valid. Bob Brislawn of Wyoming started a herd of Spanish horses acquired in 1950s. HOA recognizes and authenticates characteristics. Baca's horses ("Conquistadores") are registered with HOA and Los Cabellos de Colores.

Describes characteristics of his horses. Short back, with not as many vertebrae. Stronger, holds heavier loads. There are about fifty scattered between him and his family members.

Tape 2, Side A

His breed name, Conquistadores, conflicts with Conquistador magazine, so the association is called Caballos de Colores, honoring conquistadors. Documents his Spanish Heritage horses with Caballos de Colores Association and HOA. Talks about several specific articles and movies in recent years ... Belen Bulletin article on Baca's horses; articles on Lopopolo's horses; Albuquerque Journal articles; Hidalgo and Walt Disney movie Cimarron.

Says is not raising horses for the money, only to support research. Concerned about Lopopolo's Acoma horses starving and being put down. Says Mt. Taylor wild herd is as authentic as possible, since it was isolated for a hundred years on 25,000 acres. His horses came from breeding his family stock and with Chilili stock. Horses in small, old settlements also remained isolated. Explains that Appaloosa is a color, not a breed, though many have pure Spanish blood. Describes them more. Says color was not important to the Spanish, that small size and endurance was more critical. Palomino is a blonde color, also not a breed.

Briefly discusses cattle. His Longhorns are called Corrientes in Mexico, little fat. Angus have more fat and tallow. Talks about other breeds of horses and characteristics, including Florida Cracker, Tractor (sp?), and Andalusians from Spain. Says horses change colors as they age.

Tape 2, Side B

Returns to discussion of family history. Great-grandfather ran a wagon train from Santa Fe to St. Joseph [, Mo.]. Describes ancestors' eye and skin colors.

Sells his horses to ranchers, who want surefootedness, bigger size, and endurance. Search-and-rescue people interested because quarter horses cannot get up mountains. Spanish horses have round cannon bones (between hoof and elbow in front). Have crescent, smaller ears than most other horses. Describes other characteristics. Markers are in blood DNA. Says "A"-frame chest is favorable because horse cools off faster. More characteristics discussed. Has passion to preserve Spanish horses.

Relates names of kids and grandchildren. Says fifty years ago only little villages were in the area. Reiterates that his house is on the old route of Camino Real and the Oñate Trail. When was little, still crossed the river there. Says trade caravans did not go through La Joya. Describes meetings with highway department and historians saying that El Camino Real went through Socorro. Caravans traveled five to ten miles a day.

Farm is all pastureland for horses. Buys most of his feed. Currently has ten acres. Bought property next door to keep the horses. Talks about possible funding for or through the American Livestock Breed Conservancy and Lopopolo.

Describes additional articles, including in Farm & Ranch Magazine, Valencia County News, and Albuquerque Journal (23 April 2002, "Horseman Keeps Eye on America's First Breed."). Mentions Lopopolo visit to Baca ranch.

Tape 3, Side A

Has been around Spanish horses all his life, but breeding since 1950s. From a very Catholic family. Discusses more family names of siblings and children.

Had to pump water for cattle as a child. Had running water, but no pipes to the cattle. Talks about kids' chores. Says wife Virginia made her own butter and cheese. Was raised in house on family land across the highway that was sold after his father died. Describes family land that Grandpa Donateo had on the old Spanish land grant. Grandfather was grantee on the Tomé Land Grant. He later received four acres of farmland free from the board, then changed to one acre. Grandpa has over one hundred acres of farmland plus land in the mountains. Says U.S. government recognized the border along the fenced land instead of in the mountains. Rest became national forest land.

Says true Camino Real came up the west side of the Rio Grande, crossed over and ran behind his house. Trail went south from Tomé on west bank to Socorro. Says cattle rustlers (ladrones) in the late 1700s gathered cattle at La Joya. Oñate Trail did not go through La Joya because of better slope on west side and arroyos on east. Believes modern historians are wrong saying the trail came through La Joya.

Tape 3, Side B

Has tried persuading historians, especially the highway department, that they are wrong about the route. Says colonists made five to at most fifteen miles a day. The little villages were mostly on the east side of the river. Further north they were on the west side. Repeats information about cattle rustlers and caravan routes. Believes the Oñate Trail historical marker at La Joya is wrong. Tracks behind his house are from original trail.

Describes his schooling at Adelino. Used school wagon in winter, walked in spring and fall. Classes were taught in English, but he did not understand. Was banged on hand with a ruler when he was caught speaking Spanish. Readers included "Little Black Sambo." No kids spoke English, but teachers ordered to teach in English.

Says, "Gringos are Anglos who take advantage of Spanish people." Refers to intermarriage with Indians. Was only one Black family in Belen when he was a kid. Went to Immaculate Conception church in Tomé in a wagon. Attended church daily during Lent; remembers walking at 4am with a flashlight in the dark.

Mentions church fiestas, Holy Week processional. Reenacted the Passion. Did not work on Friday of Holy Week. Describes old customs. Everyone celebrated Immaculate Conception Day.

Each family held a matanza--killing a pig and gathering the meat and lard for a year. Meat was kept in cool rooms. Made soap using lard from the previous year. Raised pigs for their lard, not the meat.

Tape 4, Side A

Describes social custom of matanzas in past. Did them in fall, stopped in cold weather, resumed in spring. Will host a matanza during the trail ride in October. Few are held anymore. Describes processing of the pig, including making of chicharrones and queritos.

Father raised everything family needed, except to buy coffee and sugar. Mentions Becker Dalles store. Before 1928, family took wheat to the mill in Corrales; farmer kept a percentage. Had income from selling wood, salt from Salinas, tomatoes, and chili. Used horses to cut cattle and plow fields. Loaned his old buggy to Los Golondrinas.

Began working with heritage horses in mid-1950s. Used stock from relatives and wild herds in the mountains. Bred for crescent-shaped ears, narrow face, eyes on side, and small muzzle with nose that flared. When running, flares "like trumpet." Compares their small size (13-14 hands) to other horses (15+ hands high). Compares to other horses, including Kentucky horses, Morgans, and Tennessee Walkers.

Different European breeds began arriving in late 1600s-1700s. Began selective breeding for bigger size. Contends that New Mexico wild horses are mixtures of Spanish mustangs, thoroughbred mustangs, Morgans, and Clydesdale mustangs. Mustang referring to wild horses. Ate lots of grass, were killed for glue, sometimes poisoned to kill coyotes. May still have been purebloods still running loose in 1970s, but today cannot tell blood of wild horses. Cites Drs. Cothran and Sponenberg that DNA does not show bloodlines. Mentions Complete Guide to Horse Colors as a system to classify patterns and colors of world's horses.

Tape 4, Side B

Says Dr. Cothran wrote Lopopolo that he should not claim his animals as being pure blooded.

Describes acreage of land held and passed down by family members. Bough present land from the Romeros. Built a house on the road and raised his children there. Was a mailman in Albuquerque for a while, worked on the house during days off. Commuted to Albuquerque after house was completed.

Describes his nine children and their careers. Wife Virginia was a teacher's aide, worked at the county assessors' office, elected Cibola County Assessor for twelve years. Joty managed Timber Lake Ranch at Ramah, continued breeding work. Eventually returned to Belen. Now owns ten acres at Baca farm plus twelve acres with a house in the mountains. Used to grow alfalfa, but does not have enough land to warrant investment in equipment.

Remembers his family was first in area to get electricity--one outlet--when he was 7 years old. Worked hard doing chores before school. Father never used government programs or accepted aid.