Tag Archives: Horse

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.

Four 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.

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!!