Monday, April 14, 2008

Even cowgirls get the black and blues

Patty here...

Call me crazy but Sunday morning I went horseback riding in the coastal hills of central California above Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley. Those of you who saw the movie "Sideways," will recognize the territory.

My equestrian escapade would have been a no-brainer for Our Very Own Jacqueline Winspear who is an accomplished rider, but I haven’t been on a horse since dinosaurs roamed the earth. On the other hand, we writers spend hours in front of our computers writing about life. Sometimes we need to get out of the house and live a little and refill our well of experiences.

So, on Friday I left Los Angeles in my rearview mirror and headed North to rendezvous with a group of friends at The Alisal Guest Ranch. I stopped along the route for libations at Cold Springs Tavern, a quaint way-station built in the 1860s as a respite for stagecoach passengers traveling across the mountains.

Here I am in my custom cowboy hat—a packer with a Montana slope. Geehaw!

As I entered The Alisal Ranch driveway, I left the fast-paced L.A. life behind. Time seemed to pass through a parallel universe.

Over the weekend, I barbequed and square danced, picnicked and tasted wine at a working ranch and vineyard.

Then Saturday night before the ride, my friends began trotting out the “horse horror stories.” You know the kind I mean.

“My horse got spooked by a bee...I was in a body cast for six months.”

“My blisters got infected...I ended up in Intensive Care.”

Not what I wanted to hear, because I’m leaving this Wednesday for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Pittsburgh with the Mystery Chix and Private Dix and I don’t want to fly Med-Evac. I ignored the "neigh" sayers, because life is not a dress rehearsal.

On Sunday at 0720 hours, I arrived at the barn...

...and picked up my horse, Red, age eighteen, almost old enough to drink. In fact, he looked like he could use a Bloody Mary to jump-start his day. At first, Red didn’t want to leave the corral. Trail boss Vickie told me to kick him, but I felt guilty doing that because…jeez, Red is OLD. I knew I should listen to Vickie. She's a real-deal authentic cowgirl. Should you doubt my words, she was riding a wild mustang she broke herself. And she was wearing spurs. (I can almost hear Jim Born’s heart beating faster). Still, I couldn’t bring myself to kick Red, so instead I used gentle nudges with the heels of my totally awesome cowboy boots. That technique was successful except for once. Note: a horse in the process of taking a dump will not move even with gentle kicks from the heels of your totally awesome cowboy boots.

Once Red understood my commands, he was a trouper. He and I walked and trotted through rivers and along narrow trails that snaked up and down green hills dotted with mustard plants and wildflowers.

Deer and cattle roamed the bucolic landscape in peaceful bliss. Only the clippity-clop of horse’s hooves broke the silence. I felt as if Mother Nature was rocking me in her cradle. Not only that, but my well of experiences felt full.

I just hope I can walk without a cane tomorrow.

My Hoss Red: the story of a horse and a girl who loved him..if only for a little while

Happy Monday!


  1. the hills are alive...........

    thanks for a little tranquillity on this stormy monday morning.

    peace, sybille

  2. Note that of course Patty's casually chosen cowboy ensemble continues to complement her natural charm.

    Translation: You look damn fine, Patty.

    Hmm. One of these days I should probably reserve comment until I've actually woken up. :o)

  3. Move over Louis L'Amour and Elmore Leonard. I think I see a Western in Patty's future.

    One correction in the URL for the Cold Spring Tavern, famed for its tri-tip sandwiches.

  4. Good morning to you Sybille. And peace...would that I could arrange a bit more of that in the world.

    Jeff, sleepy comments are just part of your charm. And thanks to "Tex" for correcting my link. I must have been nodding when I typed it.

  5. Go-Lo, sorry that this isn't directly on point but "we've" delved into this area before.....just caught this NYtimes article "the name game"
    Fascinating stuff.

    Now to today's gig: I can not help but agree with Jeff [and I'm sure that Groupie will be chiming in too, shortly] that you look quite
    fetching in your western attire.....this is in keeping with last week's "aesthetic" quagmire.
    lest we forget:
    A thing of beauty is a joy forever.


  6. If I had a fabulous outfit like that, I might want to try to ride a horse. Not.

    I grew up next to a horse farm. I rode a horse once. I like smaller animals. Ones that use litter boxes.

  7. Patty, what a great weekend!

    I recommend BenGay and hot baths today.

  8. Ah, thanks Jon. I looked at those pictures and thought--geesh--I need to go on a diet.

    Karen, next time you're out West, you'll have to give the horse thing another try. You never know...

    Louise, amazingly I am not sore at all. Must be all that Pilates training.

  9. What a wonderful trip. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Sound like fun!

  10. For some reason, I am extremely nervous of big animals, particularly horses, up close. Probably a past-life thing. :-D I get a sense of power of the animal, and believe me, horses are pretty darn strong and powerful when they put their minds to it. I have ridden once, many many years ago now - can't see me repeating the process anytime soon. But I like to sit and admire the people who not only ride horses, but do it with such grace, panache and aplomb. Hi Our J. :-D

    Good on ya, Patty, for getting out and having a go. Bet you there was the odd second or two when you were wishing for a glass of chilled chardonnay on your boat, though. :-D

    Still, the pictures of your trek were yummy, and you looked way too sexy in your cowgirl getup. I can see this making it into a Tucker novel sometime soon. :-D


  11. Maybe we'll have a Naked Authors round up. Marianne can wow us with baked goods and Cozy Crime can gather details for her next tome.

  12. Maybe we'll have a Naked Authors round up. Marianne can wow us with baked goods and Cozy Crime can gather details for her next tome.

  13. I agree with Jeff.

    Nice weekend adventure.


  14. James O, we all agree you should reserve commenting until you're awake :o)

  15. Sounds like it was worlds of fun...and brings back fond memories of my attempts at riding.


  16. Right on (as we used to say in the old days), Jon: A thing of beauty IS a joy forever! (And wouldn't it be fun if Tex Levine and Patty L'Amour did a western together: Law and Covered Assets at the OK Cache, Cowboy Kama Sutra, or some such thing?


  17. Of course, it took Marianne to come right out and say it...and I don't think she was referring to your baked goods, cowgirl. :o)

    Wide awake in Iowa.

  18. Groupie, youz so funny. Let's twist Paulie's arm on that collaboration!

    Jeff, Ha!

  19. Beautiful area! Looks like fun!

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