Tuesday, December 22, 2009

California: Look, Ma, No Car!

Concierge.com - Full Story
by Susan Hack | Published January 2010

In the Egyptian desert, near the Pyramids, a horse bolted. I wasn't hurt, but now whenever I get on a horse, instead of pleasure all I can think about is falling off. I've ridden since childhood but have come to Ricochet Ridge Ranch, just north of Fort Bragg, hoping to recover confidence and strike a balance between common sense and obsessive dread.

Ranch owner Lari Shea is a breeder and champion rider of endurance racehorses. Her weeklong riding holidays take guests through Mendocino County's forests, cattle flats, and miles of undeveloped beach, mainly at a high-speed trot. Veterans of twenty-five- to hundred-mile-long contests, Shea's horses, many of them Arabian and Russian Orlov crosses, are equine ultra-marathoners. A high-energy, five-foot-tall ringer for Sandra Dee, Shea greets me wearing a flamboyant red-and-black western shirt, black riding tights, cowboy boots, and knee holsters for cell phone and hoof picks.

In the barn I meet my charge for the week, Citron, a fourteen-year-old palomino mare, half Arabian and half Akhal-Teke, an obscure but smooth-gaited breed from Turkmenistan.


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