I’m going to take you to a very special place.
Three miles up a wooded canyon sandwiched between the hills that define the western edge of Silicon Valley and the cold foggy winds of the Pacific Ocean lies a little horse ranch.
Thirteen acres of hilly land sprinkled with horses who needed a second chance. Some because of lameness or lack of talent, some maimed, old or skittish. There’s also a bunch of friendly barn cats, two snuggly hounds and you can always hear the incessent bleating of two obnoxious pygmy goats.
The smallish sanded riding arena lies closest to the canyon road, ringed with purple daisies that bloom year round in the coastal fog. Across the street is a mysterious, gnarled giant cypress tree in shades of blue, green and black. It’s it’s thick, sturdy boughs beg to be climbed and often there is a child in the crotch of it’s first branch, lounging and watching the rest of the ranch.
Behind the arena is a tomato red barn with paddocks that open on either side. It’s the hub of the action as it usually houses the most recent rescues as well as the horses who cannot, for various reasons, live in the pasture with other horses. It’s a noisy barn built recently out of aluminum pipe and tacked with thin wood. The horses bang the pipes and the metal feeders demanding a treat, or a pat or in arguing with each other. But in spite of it’s loudness, it’s bright and airy inside and the lack of seasonal weather near the coast means that simple shelter from the elements is more important that insulation.
Between the arena and the barn is an untended vegatable garden that is haphazzardly planted with carrots, herbs and struggling tomatoes. The kids and the goats, the gophers and the deer all take liberally from the garden. The lawn is peppered with bare spots from grazing horses and hoof prints. As well as soccer balls and hula hoops left out by the children. But surrounding the lawn is a layer of bright orange and yellow calendula flowers, fragrant lavender bushes and hardy purple salvias. In the winter, it’s crisscrossed with drainage ditches to channel the rain runoff from the hillsides.
The pasture is at the back of the property. It’s too hilly for the older horses, but a gang of young and hearty horses enjoy thier own steep and verdant world on the hill. During the day, they like to stand where they can see all of the activity at the barn. But after dark they head for the meadow that lies deep in the pasture. Sometimes at dusk, they thunder along the side and sometimes over the biggest hill, just for the excitement of it. It never ceases to stop my heart. The image of horses galloping not to or from anything or anyone, but just for the sheer joy of being built to run, is something that strikes hard at the soul of every American who ventures Westward.
The ranch has been described as “story book” “cute” and lovely. But mostly how it’s described by the people who visit is: Magic.
I think they might be right.