My Little Piece of Heaven

“My soul can find no staircase to Heaven
unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.”
Michelangelo

 

PBRC Areial View

Aerial view of Portuguese Bend looking out on the Pacific Ocean.

JimmyPBRC GardensPBRCJimmys Favorite Past TimeBlue Grooming Bay

There’s a very special place that is not well-known among Angelenos. I always felt extremely fortunate to have been part of this very special place. The beautiful flowers, trees and vegetation encompassing this place made it my secret garden.

The aromas from fresh hay, flora and fauna were always intoxicating. The 1920s Spanish architecture of the home and stables so breathtakingly dreamlike, that it was often used as a film location.

For over eight wonderful years I would visit this place daily, rain or shine. The reason for my visits was because my best friend Jimmy lived there. He and I would explore the surrounding hills and valleys. Every spring we hiked and then we relaxed on the rich green grassy knolls.

It was my church, my sanctuary, my favorite place to be. It made me feel needed, wanted, and safe. It gave me purpose. It kept me happy and sane.

I miss this place more than I ever thought possible.

Now, it is forever in my daily thoughts as well as my nightly dreams. I would like to return someday, but it is much too painful to return. For to return to this place, where Jimmy once lived, would not be the same without him.

So, for now, I look at old photos and videos and reminisce about a time when I was the happiest I’ve been in my life. Those years seem as if they were all a glorious and magical dream. A time when I was the closest to heaven as I’ll ever know.

This wondrous place was and always will be, my little piece of heaven.

Shine On

Star Quality

“Horses are amazing. They have their own personality
and their own way of doing things. They make up their
mind whether they like you or don’t like you, and I got
along terrific with almost all the horses I’ve ever had.”
Burt Reynolds 

Jimmy aka, James Dean RIP 1986 – 2013

Horses, just like humans, have personalities as unique as their owners. In the fifty plus years of riding, training and giving lessons, the one thing I’ve learned is that no two horses are similar in their personalities. A horse’s personality is molded as he grows and matures. His experiences with trainers, handlers and owners form his mind into what he is today.

The horse memory can exceed ours for past bad experiences and, unfortunately for the horse and human, the horse can’t delete those bad experiences from his brain.  You can attempt to breed in traits, or even clone a horse, and you will find that each horse stands alone.

A few years back I was trail riding with a friend. She has one of the most beautiful reining horses at our barn. As we rode side by side out on the trail, we were discussing different topics. I commented to her how beautiful her horse was. She was a little taken aback by my comment and immediately began to point out some of her horse’s flaws. Disagreeing with her opinion of her horse, I continued to tell her that if her horse were a celebrity he would be Hugh Jackman.

She thought that was the funniest comment she had ever heard about her horse. Explaining to her that the reason I saw the similarities in such a famous and talented actor was because her horse not only possessed such handsome good looks, but also had talent, perfect confirmation, brains, athletic ability and was charismatic to boot. Yep, her horse undeniably could win a Hugh Jackman look-a-like contest.

We both laughed and discussed this in great detail, comparing other horses in the barn with celebrities. She asked me what celebrity I thought my horse resembled. After thinking about this for a few moments, I replied that he sure wouldn’t be Charlie Sheen. My horse has too much common sense and class.

My horse Jimmy is a twenty-six year-old paint gelding. Smartest horse I’ve ever known with a great deal of bravery for a horse of his stature. Easy on the eye, he stands just 14.2 hands and he weighs in around 800 pounds. He’s a Tobiano Dun with a long flowing white mane and tail. On sunny days, his white coat shimmers and twinkles like the tips of his coat are lit up by tiny light crystals.

He’s an ex-cutting horse who’s not quite as athletic as he used to be, but what he lacks in athleticism, he makes up in honesty and trustworthiness. People young and old are drawn to his good looks and then fall in love with his tricks and antics, which he is famous for at every stable we’ve ever boarded or visited. He is a celebrity in his own right and often friends and acquaintances will ask me, “How’s Jimmy”, long before they ask about myself.

No, Jimmy wouldn’t be a George Clooney or a Russell Crowe. He’s more of a classic celebrity like John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart. A much more rugged and sturdy character of a horse. He also is quite charismatic for a horse. Sticking his tongue out at people as they walk by, which is his attempt at getting their attention.

Jimmy’s extremely intelligent, he knows 18 word commands and several hand commands without touching him to perform his array of tricks.  He’s more of a superstar, a horse that everyone enjoys and wants to be around.  If I could compare him to a Hollywood Horse, he would definitely be compared to Roy Rogers’ horse, Trigger.

As my friend began to name one celebrity after the other, I told her that the only celebrity that came to mind was Burt Reynolds. With his confident demeanor, nonchalant attitude, and charismatic personality, Jimmy could only be compared to Burt Reynolds.

What celebrity does your horse resemble? It’s kind of a fun question when you think about. Is your filly more of a Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie?  Is your stallion a Sylvester Stallone or Bradley Cooper?  Whichever superstar your horse resembles, you know he will always be your favorite star and you will always be his biggest fan. Why? Because he’s got star quality.

Shine On

The Sea Meets The Sunset

“And indeed, a horse who bears himself proudly is a thing of such beauty
and astonishment that he attracts the eyes of all beholders.
No one will tire of looking at him as long as
he will display himself in his splendor.”
Xenophon


The Sea Meets The Sunset

We rode for hours. Riding through the wild oat fields with oats as tall as the hocks of our horses legs. The smell of the wild oats and lavender lingering in the air as we rode.

We rode through the eucalyptus woods so thick with trees, they covered the trail to the sky. The strong minty, pine, honey scent of eucalyptus lingered as we left the woods.

We rode as the sun began to set. The salty air of the sea drawing us near to the sea, wading through the low tide where the sea meets the sunset.

Shine On

The Eye of The Beholder

“Since we cannot change reality,
let us change the eyes which see reality.”
Nikos Kazantzakis

When you look into someone’s eyes or an animals eyes, what do you see? We are now able to know if the eyes are from a flight or fight species.

A scientific study recently analyzed the eyes of 214 species of land animals. What they discovered is that pupil shapes are directly linked to an animal’s ecological niche.

For instance, animals with pupils that are vertically elongated, like domestic cats and gators, are more likely to be ambush predators – hunters active day and night who use stealth, not strength or speed, to overcome their prey.

Animals with horizontally elongated pupils, such as goats and sheep are herbivore prey animals, the researchers found. Circular pupils, found in humans and birds, provide good all-around vision and are linked to animals that chase down their prey.

Species that are active both night and day with slit pupils provide the range they need to help them see in dim light yet not get blinded by the midday sun.

In fact the sideways orientation which the horse has, is very important for his survival when he is grazing. When he drops his head to graze, its pupils rotate (in opposite directions) by up to 70 degrees to stay horizontal, the researchers found.

While prey animals need to be able to see all around them, predators need binocular vision to see how far away their prey is. Vertical-slit pupils maximize binocular disparity, and blur, in which objects at different distances are out of focus, the scientists found.

But not all predators have vertical pupils.

What is surprising is that the researches noticed from their study that the slit pupils were linked to predators that were close to the ground. Domestic cats have vertical slits, but bigger cats, like tigers and lions, don’t. Their pupils are round, like humans and dogs.

This amazing research teaches us how remarkable the eye and vision can be for us as well as all of nature. Who knows, maybe in the not too distant future we will be able to simulate and see through the eye of the beholder.

Shine On

Birds of a Feather

“Birds of a feather flock together.”
William Turner

Birds of a Feather

Jimmy 1986 to 2013

The saying, Birds of a feather, flock together, has been around for hundreds of years. It means, people who have similar characters or similar interests will often choose to spend time together.

In nature, birds of a single species frequently form flocks. Ornithologists explain this behavior as a ‘safety in numbers’ a tactic to reduce their risk of predation.

Take for example the horse. In the wild the horse likes to stay in a herd with usually one stallion in charge of the entire herd. They do this because they do not like to be alone and when they are alone they become exposed to possible predators.

For centuries now the domesticated horse still have the same instincts as a wild horse. Often when a stable mate leaves the barn and the other horse is left behind alone, both horses can become nervous and anxious. This is known as the horse being “herd bound”.

There was one particular horse at the stable where my horse Jimmy lived that became so nervous, you could hear the tension in her high-pitch whinny to her stable mate when they were separated.

Jimmy on the other hand, was entirely focused on me and never got nervous or attached to his stable mates. In fact the opposite was true with him. We were so bonded, that he was known to break-out of his stall when he heard my voice, but could’t see where I was.

Everyday when I arrived at the stable I would call out his name. Jimmy always gave me a welcome whinny like no other horse at the barn. Although I did get other whinnies from his stable mates, Jimmy always greeted me with the most welcoming whinny of any horse I’ve ever known.

Jimmy and I had a strong kinship. I often knew what he was going to do before he even did something. Often he knew what I wanted from him with just the most subtle cue. We would protect and look out for each other, no matter what the circumstances were.

Call it love, call it respect, call it what you may. But, I like to think that we were, birds of a feather.

Shine On