Category Archives: The Adventures of Sony and Raubie

1972 to 1975 is the time frame of these stories about two friends and their horses. The location is the San Fernando Valley, California. They rode in the hills above Mulholland Highway and throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. These stories are autobiographical in nature and bring up images of the Valley when it was still a very wild place. Madman Across the Water by Elton John was their favorite LP. They were known to sing Bernie Taupin’s lyrics while riding.

Blues for Baby and Me…The Adventures of Sony and Raubie

I don’t remember what season it was. Just that it was in the early morning before the sun came up. I dressed myself in blue jeans, t-shirt and a blue jeans jacket with Dove written on the back. I went down to Sony’s corral. I dressed him up for a long ride. I had some money in my pocket.  Parents did not have a clue, only Ruff and her horse knew where we were going. But, we were going in defiance to their repeated nos. We were hitting that unknown trail to the beach. We did not know how we would get there, besides on the back of our horses.

We knew our way to Mulholland. The wild Santa Monica trails are old fire roads of adventure. We road towards the west / south sands of Topanga beaches. The Pacific Coast Highway were shining dreams to us. Ruff wondered how her horse would respond to the sound of waves. I told her I craved riding Sony galloping over salty ocean foam!

A long ride over the hills emptied us in the middle of Old Town Topanga. In the center of town was an old gas station. Ruff and I took turns at the bathroom. While I was alone in the restroom two women held me hostage. Crazy women that laughed as I confronted them. I ran for the door and didn’t look back. I heard them laughing as we jumped on our horses and trotted away with fingers in the air. The sun wan overhead. We walked the horses along the heart of Topanga. The traffic was building up which was dangerous for us as any biker.

The canyon turned and we rode as determined as a couple of teenage girls can get.

“Hold on, I think we can head down one of these trails, and ride a stream towards the beach. What do you think?”

“OK, let’s do it!”

We took the wrong path. Sony started slipping on falling rocks. I fell off Sony. I rolled down a hill landing on a big bouquet of fragrant ocean fennel. Sony took off by himself. He ran back towards the center of Topanga. Ruff helped me on to the back of Raubie and we galloped towards Sony. I was terrified that he might run into a car. After a few moments, we found Sony eating some grass on the side of the road. I hopped over my horse and we found another trail towards a stream.

“Hold, don’t you ever tell my mom what just happened! Or Raubie will be gone for sure!”

“Ruff, OH YA!”

The four of us traversed the spotty streams. Waterfalls, large boulders, and deep pools of sparkling water filled us with beautiful wild silence. We stopped and rested for the food that Ruff packed. A couple of sandwiches, a coke, and carrots for the horses. Ruff was a mastermind of probabilities because she read so many damn books! We both had a wild wonder in our bellies that pulled us on.

On the right side of Topanga Canyon, we came upon a large pond. The water was deep enough where the horses could swim downstream.  A scream from Ruff alerted me to danger! Raubie turned around in the pond with Ruff on him.  Ruff swam up from under her horse. Ruff was pissed. I tied Sony’s hackamore reins to a nearby tree and jumped into the pond. I got Raubie on land. Ruff followed safely. We were both soaked to the skin.

Eight hours and we were almost there.

“I swear I can hear and smell the ocean waves Ruff!

At Topanga Canyon and Pacific Coast Highway we crossed on a green light. Traffic exploited by. Two miles down on either side was a long fence. The beach was fenced off. We stood there with the horses’ ears sticking straight up. The waves crashed as our dreams dropped. Regardless, it is a magical moment etched in my heart.

“Hold on, I think it is time to get back before our parent’s start to worry about us.”

It was a long cold ride home. The sun set by the time we got there. I could hear Ruff’s mom screaming at her, in German, across our small valley. It echoed as my dad and I laughed. Dad was drunk on the porch looking over the San Fernando Valley lights. My mom had me take off my clothes before I entered the house. Into the wash they went. I cleaned up, dressed, and went back outside. I told Dad about my adventure as we sat and watched the valley lights together.

Ruff was not allowed to ride with me for a month.

Shelly and her Mare

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Shelly rode a beige mare, maybe a Palomino, but I forgot which breed, regardless she was a smart horse. Shelly and her horse lived in Burbank and came to visit. A horse trailer brought the mare over to stay with Sony in his corral.  That mare taught Sony how to get out of his corral. There were two wood posts that slid into two metal u supports, which secured the entrance to Sony’s corral. Shelly’s mare pushed under the two posts with her nose and sent the two horses free one summer day. After that, I had to secure the entrance with a nylon rope. Otherwise, Sony was found roaming the hillside on his own. He even charged up Canoga Ave once. He found his way home again. One thing I could always count on was; hay and oats were always on a horse’s mind.  Lucky for us the hills were open and wild, and not as many cars traveled the roads back then. We lived in the outback.

Shelly was not a fool, she was Sicilian, smart and manipulative and came from a broken home. Ruff and Shelly had a lot in common. They read a lot of books together and kept up with the news. Shelly told me once,

“If you read the back pages of any newspaper, Holly, you can find homicides, strange stories and unusual articles in any paper!”

Ruff, Shelly, and I rode miles together. We knew all the trails that lead to Mulholland Hwy. Sometimes we explored new places like Warner Center; when it was still farmland.  The fields of horses and farm animals, were one of my favorite places to visit. Riding on asphalt through the small city of Woodland Hills to get to Warner farms was a challenge. Letting the horses take dumps in unusual places was nasty. Yet, trotting away laughing together are some of my best memories. We were the Three Musketeers.

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Next to the pumpkin gardens, on Warner farms, we chased wild rabbits. Sometimes we visited the stables on Canoga Ave, near the 101 freeway. It was the early 1970s. We could look through all the old equipment that was still housed in big red barns.  I was enchanted by the large leathers that were used for Horse Drawn Buggies, but every type of thing that was used to groom a horse was there. Some of the items were over 50 years old or older. A few times we were invited to let our horses roam free in the large fenced glen. Then, we drank cool drinks and ate our home-made lunches.

Often, after riding a few hours, the three of us would go back to my home on Arcos Drive and make our crazy salads. Anything and everything went into those delicious salads. Tuna, tomatoes, olives, eggs, ham, and lettuce. We then made up a vinegar based dressing mixed with Good Food mayonnaise. We turned up the stereo while eating. The house loudly sang Elton John songs on that wild hill in the San Fernando Valley.

More Adventures of Sony and Raubie : He declared.

 “I’m here I’m there, I’m everywhere…I’m the underwear man.!”

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While shopping I pulled the wet mustard greens up. Curly, green, and alive, this image sparked a memory from my mental files. Back to when the million-dollar homes around my parent’s house were once fields of green, purple wild flowers or yellow dirt weeds; depending on the season.

This is when the hills and fields of Mulholland of Los Angeles County were also as wild. The new asphalt streets echoed with the sound of nature and children playing. We were somehow the hillbillies of Woodland Hills. Not too rich but wild. The neighborhood was horsey and Ruff and I noticed the for-sale signs around. At dusk, we pulled the real estate posts down with a rope looped around a saddle horn. The signs always were reassembled the next day.

Through long walks and long strides; windy days and pounding rain…we kept on riding our horses. I am spoiled to have had such a wellspring of wild freedom as a youth. Dangerously taking to the hills. One-time off Topanga Canyon Blvd., which we called the Snake, we were riding towards a dark forest in the curve of a tall hill. Sony and I fell into a ditch hidden by a monster of wild sage.

I can still see that ditch today driving the Snake to and from Pacific Coast HWY.

On this day Sony and I were trapped. I could not get Sony up. He was pinched in. The only way out was down a 10-foot drop… or longer. We all were terrified. Ruff and I went to the closest house and they dialed 911. Fire trucks arrived. Alarms turned off. Twelve big men, two young teenage girls and one-horse safe, while my Sony was stuck. It was a terrible adventure that left the Firemen overwhelmed. I heard them talking and analyzing the situation.

“It does not look too good for your horse.” Said one of the men.

“Do you parents know where you are?” Said another man in red.

I just shrugged my shoulders. An hour went by. Sony was surrounded with dirt, weeds and hanging over a cliff… with a red shell of fireman around him mocking protection. I was beside myself in grief. Then I turned away and heard a scream. I turned back, looked up and witnessed Sony dancing a full 360 head first then gallop down the hill as flying directly to me. He nuzzled his nose to mine and me simple walked away. Sony was fine.

The green fields of Mulholland often were filled with wild mustard greens that housed many a tick. Black little bugs that sucked the blood of our horses or our legs and bare feet. The yellow little blossoms in bunches came higher than our horses. The wild flowers went on for miles.

Once riding through a long dense forest of mustard greens we came upon and opening. We were about a couple of miles from any homes. A big rock was in the middle of a round tunnel about twelve feet across. We saw a little boy come out screaming from bush and then ascended on top of the rock. He was in his underwear except for his red cape behind him.

“I’m here I’m there, I’m everywhere…I’m the underwear man.!” The little strange boy declared.

He looked at us and then ran down the rock and back into the wild mustard greens, now taller than our horses, never to be seen again??

To the Snake… From A Mad woman

The Adventures of Sony and Raubie Part Three

Headless Horseman Road

Sony and Holly 1970s

Photo by Steve Hudson

Canoga Avenue from Mulholland to Oxnard was overwhelmingly wild. It was only a two-lane avenue lined with residential homes, farms, and empty fields. The big eucalyptus trees monstered along Canoga Avenue gracing through the heart of Woodland Hills. We chased wild rabbits bareback where Warner Center now suffocates the land.  Stealing pumpkins late at night from the many pumpkin patches was a scary treat for us kids around autumn. Now Kaiser Permanente stands tall over ghostly pumpkins that linger there only as memories.

Ruff and I rode our horses after school which did not give us much time. We had to make it back home around dusk. This gave us a couple of hours to ride. We had it in our minds to visit down an old dirt road up near Canoga moving south towards Mulholland. We noticed this dirt road a few times on our rides up to Mulholland where it seemed endless trails awaited us, but now was not the time.

The dirt road branched off to the east and was a long lonely one. Pepper trees mixed with eucalyptus trees mingled along the road as large trunks and heavy branches. A small forest. We got off our horses to look around. This is what I liked best about growing up here. There were adventures and places to discover around my home town. Shadowy places of earth and trails leading sometimes through the fog. This dirt road led us to a hill that was very steep to the right side of it. We passed this hill and galloped about a mile or two up and then decided to turn back because the sun was getting close to the horizon. It was a cool night and the smell of trees, moist earth, herbs, and smoke from nearby fireplaces filled our senses. But the darkening sky called us back home. It was getting late.

We were about a mile from Canoga when Sony galloped forward. I am not sure how it happened but he went for a tree. A long tree reached out and I thought I could go no further under it. I realized as Sony went under the tree it got lower. Sony stopped and my legs jammed under the tree. I was stuck under the tree bent backwards, and Sony was still moving forward. Ruff quickly positioned her horse in front of Sony as I pulled on the reins backwards. I cried because I was being crushed. We all moved backwards and Sony and I were released. It was a focused effort for all four of us, horse and rider and it took a good ten minutes.

As we all gathered our breath we took some time to look at the tree and cuss it out. Then there was silence, except for the sound of a galloping horse in the distance down the dirt road coming towards us.

“What the hell is that” said Ruff?

“I don’t know but it is coming this way!”

The echo of the sound was due east. We jumped on our horses and ran them about a mile towards Canoga. The dusk had almost brought down the nights curtain.  As the dirt road ended and the street began, the metal sound of the horse’s hooves running on asphalt was loud enough to hide the echo of the unknown galloping horse behind us. I then yelled at her,

“Ruff, do you hear the screeching sound?”

“Yes, let’s get out of here!”

Maybe it was a screeching sound behind us or maybe it was the sound of our horse’s hooves on the asphalt. The haunting feelings subsided as we left the dirt road and made it home by night fall. It was smart to look forward and never look back. We knew the headless horseman returned and we never again wandered down that dirt road together.

A few years ago, I went back looking for the dirt road we referred to as the headless horseman road. It is an asphalt street now with a few nice homes lined along its narrow way. Driving by in my car I did not drive down it due east. I passed it by due north with the memory of days gone by.

To Ruff !! One of the best wild friends to have as a girl!!

The Adventures of Sony and Raubie Part Two

Beer, Ginger Ale and Gristle

Holly and Sony photo by Steve Hudson

Trampling down the prairie rose leaving hoof tracks in the sand
Those who wish to follow me I welcome with my hands
I heard from passing renegades Geronimo was dead
He’d been laying down his weapons when they filled him full of lead

Indian Sunset, Mad Man Across The Water by Elton John

Leaning against the kitchen sink and munching and grinding gristle with our teeth was a treat after a long ride on the horses.  My mom left stew bones on the kitchen counter cooling off.  Refreshing our spirits by reaching in the freezer to pull out a cold mug of Coors Beer.  Ruff was about 14 at the time. She was about 4 foot 5 inches and had a small but sturdy frame. Mousey blond long hair fell widely around her. Her blue-green eyes and a large scare on her face fit her.  As a toddler the family German Shepard, who was half wolf, attacked her but that was not a problem for Ruff. She rode her grey roan Appaloosa like he was made just for her. Ruff would cuss you out if ya messed with her. She rode bareback and also had a western saddle, with a good ‘old rope circled around her horn in the front. She practiced barrel racing in a large field below her home. Raubie was slow moving horse but Ruff was good at getting him going-on a real smooth soft gallop around the barrels. The barrels were built up rocks and boxes.

On Saturdays we took long rides. Stopping in at a local store near Topanga Canyon, we bought Ginger Ale. Two large bottles. Some for us and some for the horses. They loved it. They also loved beer. My dad often gave Sony his bottle to drink down. We laughed. Sony would drink it down and make it look so good.  My mustang stood about 14 hands high and was a good size for me. Sony wildly ran up hills. Hanging on tight you could not stop his free run. I had a bareback pad and an English saddle, which caused a lot of quarreling between Ruff and I on what was the better ride She rode a western saddle.I was not a fancy English rider that rode around a little ring for tournaments. There was nothing like riding an English saddle on a jump. Ruff and I could do it with the best of them.

I made jumps for the horses out of bamboo shoots that grew near my parents house. A large field below made a great riding ring for jumping. Sony was an excellent jumper. It was a great feeling like riding on a swing, that butterfly feeling that you feel in your belly. Sony, with a powerful jerk, could fling me off him. He even stopped abruptly in front of the jump and begin to eat the bamboo. We trashed jumping after some time. Instead we would sneak into rings in the Santa Monica Mountains. We raced through a few great open farms. We were often chased away, but always went back later.

Hudley Flipside @COPYWRITE The Adventures of Sony and Raubie

The Adventures of Sony and Raubie Part One

Holly and Sony near Mulholland Highway and Canoga Ave 1972

“a mile wide and a foot deep, too thick to drink, too thin to plow; Powder River let ‘er buck!”

An Old Cowboy call … now  Raphalia’s call across the valley to tell me it was time to ride.

You might think that two girls that had a couple of horses might come from rich families. This was not the case. The road I lived on was dirt until I turned about 13. That is when my Dad got me a white mustang I named Sony. My brother Greg and brother-in-law Bob built a corral below my parent’s home.  They put turpentine on the base of the two-by-fours, these were the base ends of the corral to house Sony. That corral stood up fine for many years after Sony and I left.

At the time it was about me and my focus on getting that horse and going for a ride, but I guess it was a family project that pushed and waved through the family with different temperaments. At least that is how I see it now. My Dad was retired in his fifties from his career in cosmology. He had his own salon called Javis’s Hair Salon downtown Woodland Hills. Now he worked at home and at some local beauty parlors in the area to support the family. My mom was a full time house wife and during the winter worked at my aunts boutique girls clothing store. Boy did I get shit for that in middle school,

“Your aunt owes Prima Donnas?”

“Yes”

“My mother can not afford that type of clothing,”

Of course all the popular girls went there and that just made me sick.

My aunt’s store  was right next door to my Dad’s place that was now rented out. My Grandmother was quite the woman and had foresight, she made sure her kids had some land to grow up on.

Raphalia (aka Ruff) was younger than I and had a horse named Raubie. Her mom was German. She and her sister filled out a greencard each year and she came from a broken family. Her mom was a surgical-nurse and married a doctor and then moved into the neighborhood. I called her Ruff and we got along good. We went riding together often. Her parents built a corral next to their home as well. SO the neighborhood got pretty horsey. At the time houses were still spread apart and there was lots of land, rolling hills and trees around. The big horse flies that came round summer bugged the hell out of my mom. Before I came in the house my mom would make me take off my clothes and put on house clothing. I guess I did smell bad. Ruff and I did go bareback riding most the time.

Ruff did a lot of reading. She liked to tell stories too. While on long rides we told stories together. It was the never-ending story. I would begin and then she took over and so it went.  We often road above the hills of Mulholland. The adventures we had were unbelievable wild. Some of the Native American stories that Ruff would read would give her interesting ideas on how to ride a horse. She braided Raubies’s abandoned horse hair into a bridle. This was placed around Raubie’s mouth and this is how she controlled him.

There were large dirt hills and mounds on Mulholland drive where guys would dirt bike. We would hold onto the back of our horses with our thighs with hands up and run our horses down a hill on a dare. Often one of us would fall off our horse. I experienced the fall in slow motion and then the ground wold grasp and pull me down fast. We learned to fall in the form of tumble weeds and sometimes my horse Sony would keep running.  My mom would look and see Sony running into the corral. In an hour I would follow. I would either walk home or Ruff would give me a ride on the back of Raubie depending on the mood she was in.

Until next time with the Adventures of Sony and Raubie ~next Beer, Ginger Ale and Gristle.