with Horse and Hound

The Road Warriors: Day Six


Betsy_Photo_2Gave Greg a lesson on Kit this morning. She was up because we shipped her a few miles to the Santa Ynez Equestrian Center, a club-based training farm where the Steele’s have a membership. But Greg rode well and took my instruction to soften his back (think your seat when breaking a young horse or riding a tough one), forget his lower legs (think about riding a forward-moving Thoroughbred, which Kit is), and to become acquainted with his outside hand (think of a firm handshake.) She went from tense and quick to soft and supple. I assured Greg that he can ride this mare, and she can be everything he wants in the hunt field and more, but he’s got to ride her sympathetically.  

Day_6_Santa_Barbara_PoloBeth and John and I attended a 20+-goal polo match at the Santa Barbara Polo Club midday. There were four former or current ten-goal players (Lolo Castagnola, Adolfo Cambiaso, Memo and Carlos Gracida) plus nine-goal Hilario Ullon, eight-goal Jeff Hall, and a couple of seven-goalers (Jeff Blake and Sugar Erskine.) We didn’t stay for the whole tournament, but it was excellent sport and crazy fast. Every player was switching horses mid-chukker, every chukker. It was the USPA America Cup tourney, sponsored by Lucchese boots. They had a tent set up with their thousand dollar-plus cowboy boots.

Beth and John beach-combed while I took the truck for an oil change. I joined them afterwards, and we all went to the


Beth, John, and the dolphins at the Santa Barbara Pier

art show in the waterfront park. Great photography, oils, pastels, watercolors, mixed media, hand thrown pottery, neat jewelry (not my friend Derrick; these were rather more “professional” outfits. Still, I looked carefully and didn’t find anything I liked one-thousandth as much as my custom clickers .

I spent some time at the skateboard park, taking in a little more sun and contemplating the percentages of witnessing a teenaged head get cracked open like a pumpkin. There wasn’t a helmet to be seen, not as much as a kneepad, or even gloves on the dozens of kids (boys, all, I couldn’t help but note). This is an acre-wide concrete slab—fenced in ramps and jumps, a half pipe and rails and lips and edges and more. They defy gravity, these boys, but there are enough close calls and wipe outs that you’re surprised there’s not a medic on site.

There were also a few boys on custom trick bikes. They were a little older (and had marginally better haircuts, I think) and were without exception excellent at their craft. They did all the crazy stunts (flips, twists, turns) in the air as the skateboarders, but were more impressive, I thought, because of the weight of the bike.

Day_6_Skateboard_parkEarly supper at casa Steele, then some writing work for the newspaper back home. I feel like this travelogue has sucked all the creativity right out of me, and am having difficulty finding the enthusiasm to write the feature story I promised my editor before I left. I may call him tomorrow and see if I can beg off a week.

In the morning we leave to drive the Big Sur/Pacific Coast Highway. Pretty excited. Overnight stop in Modesto or environs (to get close to Yosemite’s south entrance for our Tuesday visit.) I trust I’ll be able to report from the road tomorrow night, but am betting this missive will be shut down temporarily on Tuesday and Wednesday while we’re in Yosemite. Just a heads up. I may be wrong.

To be continued….

August, 10, 2010




Greg and Kit take a lesson from Betsy at the Santa Ynez Equestrian Center