My Little Piece of Heaven

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


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

Our Red-Tailed Hawk

“A red-tailed hawk rose high on an air current,
calling out shrill, sequential rasps of raptor joy.”
Barbara Kingsolver
Red Tail Hawk

For the past few weeks I’ve experienced an unusual bird sighting here by the ocean. Unusual because seeing one of these birds by the ocean is rare. I would see red-tailed hawks daily on my trail rides with my horse Jimmy, but never at the beach.

I mentioned my sighting to my husband and he thought that a red-tailed hawk was not likely to be at the beach. I agreed with him, but I also told him that we haven’t seen one pigeon on our patio lately and that these hawks hunted the pigeons at the barn. My husband hates the pigeons, so he was hoping I was right.

After days of watching our new neighbor, the red-tailed hawk, I was able to get some video and still images of him perched on the light post outside our patio. My husband was pleasantly surprised to see the images and extremely glad that the hawk was hunting our pesky neighborhood pigeons.

The hawk usually comes by everyday around 5 or 6 in the evening. Magnificent to watch as he catches the ocean breeze and hovers without flapping, eyes fixed on the ground over the beach waiting to spring on any unlikely prey. I spring into action to capture images of him hovering in front of our patio.

The other thing I noticed since the hawk arrived in our neighborhood is that the Great Horned Owl that I would hear in the evening can no longer be heard. Red-Tailed Hawks are extremely territorial and will often chase away Great Horned Owls.

If you follow my blog you might remember my post about the owl on our roof, Hooting in the House. That post was about our new unusual neighbor the owl. Now we have a new and more powerful neighbor to keep our eyes on, our red-tailed hawk.

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