Archive for category: Horses

Silent Spring

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Biking, Buddhist Practice, Cancer, Conscious Living, Family, France, Health and Fitness, Horses, Psychology, Relationships, Travel

My life has been so blessed overall–but I/we surely got dealt our lifetime ration of yuck over the past six months!!

In January, my beautiful young Rocky Mountain Horse, Shambhala Sunrise, died ;  our local property “caretakers” did the opposite of taking care of us and our property, instead figuring out how to destroy our yurt, and bilk us and the state of California, no more said about them, but we don’t miss them; the son of a (unbeknownst to us uninsured) roofer fell off the roof of our ranch in the Sierras; my truck was vandalized and my wallet and ID was stolen by a ring of sophisticated identity thieves; we had to cancel our long awaited trip to visit our godson in South America when my beloved husband, Jim, was diagnosed (mis, fortunately) with colon cancer; my new horse bucked me off twice and fractured my collar bone.  I didn’t feel like talking much about it all!  IT seemed like a good time to observe “SILENT SPRING” and wait until the dark clouds passed over.

Today, in celebration of the end of that Silent Spring, we are back on track-marking the end of the winter of our discontent and celebrating our 30th Anniversary with a tandem bicycle trip following the Rhine and Moselle Rivers,  More to follow!

My Beautiful Brave Paso Fino Horse

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Conscious Living, Horses, Pets, Self-Improvement, Women's - Tags: , , ,

This story, sent to me by my Paso Fino horse-loving friend  is so inspiring to those of us who cherish our horses, I had to  share it with you.

LAKE TAHOE – Melissa Margetts and Cabo, “my beautiful brave Paso Fino

horse,” made history upon completing the Tevis Cup, the world’s hardest

and most technically difficult 100-mile endurance ride, from Lake Tahoe

to Auburn, Calif.Horse and rider have 24 hours to complete the 55-year-old race, and only
50 percent of them make it.
Melissa Margetts and Cabo Complete Fabled Tevis Cup

Cabo, a buckskin-colored Paso Fino, is the first of his breed to have
ever completed the race, in which 98 percent of the equine participants
are Arabians – their strides maybe half again as long as the stride of
the quick-stepping Paso Finos, who are known for their  smoothness.

“His natural four-beat lateral gait’s short steps make his ride so sure
footed and smooth,” Margetts says of Cabo, “but it also means he is not
as efficient as an Arab” – and that her horse “probably did 150 miles to
their 100!”

Most horse-and-rider teams are pulled out of the race because of
fatigue, or because either they or their horses are not able to because
of the technical difficulty, lameness, dehydration, metabolic imbalances
caused by the altitude and temperatures of over 100 degrees in some of
the canyons.

The trail is treacherous, narrow and rocky in places, with granite
trails especially slippery, with sheer drop-offs into the abyss.

Hardship notwithstanding, riders from all over the world apply for the
Cup a year in advance, in the hopes that they will be lucky enough to
have a spot among the maximum 210 riders that every year take on the

This year, riders came from Australia, Japan, France, Switzerland and
the United Arab Emirates, in addition to the American riders.
International riders who do not have passports for their own horses pay
roughly $5,000 to lease a conditioned, Tevis-worthy horse for the one-
day ride. Most of the riders are from the U.S., however, and have spent
years conditioning themselves and their mounts for this ride. All riders
and all horses are required to complete hundreds of miles of documented
endurance rides either nationally, with the American Endurance Ride
Conference, or internationally with the Fédération Equestre
Internationale, headquartered in Switzerland.

“To finish is to win” is the motto in the endurance world, and to that
end the Tevis Cup offers no monetary prizes – its only prize is a much-
coveted silver belt buckle with a picture of a pony express rider at a
gallop and the words “100 miles…One Day.” The buckle is only given to
horses and riders who have proved themselves to be “fit to continue” the
grueling race and cross the finish line.

Bottom line, Margetts emphasizes, is that “it’s all about the horse, as
it should be.”

As is the case in other major world-class sports events, participants’
blood is drawn regularly to ensure no performance-enhancing drugs are
being used (or drugs to mask the pain from injuries). More than 700
volunteers and 17 top veterinarians (with 30 veterinary assistants) man
17 Vet Checks and Stops along the route.

“They couldn’t care less if the rider is dead in the saddle and held in
place with duct tape and bungee cords,” Margetts says, by way of
describing the race’s central emphasis on peak condition horses. “Your
horse had better be in fine shape every inch of the way, and they are
there to make sure that happens. At every vet check, they look at each
horse’s capillary refill, heart rate, respiration, hydration levels,
muscle tone and attitude, and check for soundness. They listen to the
horses gut sounds with their stethoscopes to make sure everything is
moving and even check ‘where the sun don’t shine’ for anal tone if your
horse looks a little off. I’ve never had such a going over myself, but I
can guarantee you Cabo has!”

All that information is then marked and recorded on the vet card riders
carry with them to the next vet check.

“Cabo got all A’s and B’s every time,” Margetts relates proudly.

Margetts herself rode with with a heart rate monitor attached to her
horse’s girth to transmit his heart rate to her watch every three
seconds, to ensure he was being kept at an aerobic pace. “You are
trotting for the entire 100 miles and are hardly ever at a walk,” she
explains, so as to not “squeeze all of the toothpaste out of the tube”
at the start.

“Another way to give both you and your horse enough energy for the whole
ride – and a better chance of finishing – is to get off the horse
wherever you can cover ground on foot just as fast as he can with you on
his back.”

To that end, Margetts says, “I ran on foot down all the steep canyons,
leading him over the rocks and holding onto his tail and one rein to let
him pull me up the really steep terrain.

“There is a lot of training and conditioning,” she emphasizes, for both
horse and rider to prepare for the Tevis Cup. “This ride is like the
Olympics, and these horses are the elite athletes. The sport is
dominated by Arabian horses who, in addition to their long and efficient
stride, have thin skin “to help dissipate heat, large nostrils for
taking in oxygen and a large lung capacity.”

Living at 9,600 ft. on Wilson Mesa and “being able to train at altitude
ranging from 10,000 to 130,000 feet gave Cabo what he needed for most of
the ride where we were climbing up over the Sierra Nevada,” Margetts
says, praising the horse for being “sure-footed and fast” in mountainous

“We were well-conditioned” from training for the race, she says, adding
that “our biggest challenge came when we hit the canyons midday when the
temperatures reached around 105 degrees and I was running down 3,000
feet and then ‘tailing up’ the next 3,000 feet. “You are so happy to
climb out of those canyons and get into a vet check,” and meet up with
the pit crew, before descending into the next “hotter-than-Hades
canyon,” she says.

While the horses and riders guzzle water with electrolytes, the vets are
swarming all over each horse, the crew is taking off the horse’s tack
and dousing him with buckets of cool water, and buckets-full of grain,
cut-up carrots, apples and alfalfa – and then putting on a dry saddle blanket.

“Then it’s tack back on, jump in the saddle, grab an energy bar on the
fly and you’re off again.” As night falls, and horse and rider come into
the next Vet Check, glow bars are duct-taped onto the horses’ breast
collars to help them see, as headlamps and flashlights are too
disorienting. Now the rider grabs a jacket for the trail and horse and
rider take off for yet another the part of the ride showcasing the
camaraderie and teamwork between horse and rider.

“It really does take a leap of faith to trust your horse, who can see
the trail better than you can at a full trot in the pitch black,” says
Margetts. “One misstep and both horse and rider could be cartwheeling
over a cliff.”

That did happen, she adds, although it was an accident with a relatively
happy ending, as the horse was “just a little cut up, but not seriously
hurt,” and the rider broke several bones, punctured a lung, bruised his
liver and after several hours in the dark perched precariously on a
ledge, was rescued and helicoptered out.

“You spend a lot of time with your heart in your throat,” says Margetts,
who is still ebullient from the experience, “but I am always amazed how
a horse sees so much better than we do at night. You just need to trust him.

“It’s an incredible experience to ride at night, and at that pace,” she
adds. And then, “just when you are really starting to enjoy the
experience, despite the exhaustion, it comes time to swim your horse
across the American River, following a path that volunteers have marked
with glow bars on ropes attached to the rocks underwater.

“It was so beautiful!” she says.

The river’s dam is shut off (for just that one day all year) so the
Tevis riders can swim across the river without getting swept downstream
by its swift-moving current.

And then the last lap begins. “Drenched up to your thighs, you start
climbing up the very last canyon, across No-Hands Bridge and into Auburn
to the finish line and your victory lap around the stadium in the
fairgrounds – and to a cheering crowd of camera-toting fans, “food and
rest and tears of joy when you receive that coveted silver belt buckle –
and that even more special prize of burying your face in your horse’s
mane, throwing your arms around his neck and crying, knowing that the
two of you just accomplished something very special and that you both
took care of each other.”

Margetts, who recently retired after three decades as a wildlife
rehabilitator and educator, founded the Telluride region’s much-loved
Rocky Mountain Ark Wildlife Center.

She says she’s enjoying her so-called retirement – and viewing the world
from between the ears of her horse. Emphasizing that she has never in
her life owned a cowboy buckle, and has “always kind of shied away from
real cowboy attire,” she says: “You can bet yer boots I’ll be sportin’
this thing around for a while!”

So if you see Melissa Margetts around town, once you’ve recovered from
the sun flashing off of that silver buckle, tell her congratulations.

And give her an apple for Cabo.

Looping Yosemite’s High Sierra Camps

Categories: Adventure, Conscious Living, Health and Fitness, Hiking, Horses, Relationships, Travel - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wonderful opportunity!  Reservations for the High Sierra Camps are hard to come by.  You have to win a lottery and my psychoanalyst colleague Francine has been trying for years.  The appeal is enormous:  Yosemite National Park; beautiful trails high above the valley floor, some intersecting with the JMT ( and the Pacific Crest Trail (; camps about every 8-10 miles with tent cabins, restrooms, and a dining/cook tent to prepare meals so you need only a day pack; you don’t have to carry a full backpack!

In 2012 Francine’s number came up for a group of six hikers and we were lucky to be among them.  Just try to imagine a group of (mostly office-bound psychoanalysts representing southern and northern California) planning a challenging 5 day hiking trip, then throw in the fillip of the hantavirus threat (, and you’ve got a guaranteed flurry of preliminary emails, a classically contagious mix, not of the virus, but of the sixty something and seventy something hikers’ anxieties.  What shall we  bring? Carry?  Wear? How much training had we better do? etc.

Fortunately for me, one of our number, Susan, recently married to John and new to distance hiking, was sufficiently worried about carrying a pack and her back pain (an occupational hazard for we of the seated psychotherapist set) that she called ahead and discovered, lo and behold, a mule could be arranged to carry any and everything a hiker didn’t need on her person during the day (i.e. dop kit, camp shoes, book, flashlight, sleepsack, extra clothes).  So, for a a fee, Roamer the mule freed us to hike completely unburdened by anything other than our 2 litres of water, rain gear, cameras and lunch. Thank you, Susan and Roamer and his charming mule skinner accompanist.

Jim, Francine, Mary, Harriet, Roamer, Susan and John and our lovely “muleskinner”s horse Ready to Roll On!

Day One:  After a good dinner and comfortable bed in our tent cabins in Tuolomne Meadows, inauspicuously visited by a deer mouse scuttling across our packs during the night, we loaded our packs. Just in case we sprayed them all with Lysol and gave Roamer what we didn’t need; we set off in high spirits to hike our “shakedown day” about eight or so miles to the camp at Glen Aulin.  We stopped for lunch overlooking Tuolomne Meadows, setting the bar for each days picnic as a site of beauty and welcome rest.  By late afternoon, we reached Glen Aulin Camp, situated at the base of a spectacular waterfall.  Out came the blister first aid, aspirin, some scotch, comfortable shoes–no showers because throughout the loop the water shortage this season was too extreme–handiwipes instead of showers, and in my case, my favorite “Ticket to the Moon” purple parachute silk hammock (  I climbed in and, gently swaying by the waterfall, relished reading Caleb’s Crossing, Pulitzer prize winning author Geraldine Brooks’ story of life in the 17th  century colonial settlement on Martha’s Vineyard.

Day Two:  Setting out for Mae Lake Camp. With my Garmin GPS I soon learned that the old artistic rusted cutout trail marker signs underestimated distances by 10-20%, so we averaged 10 miles per day between camps and with detours for spectacular views and picnics.  Today we had a good long 1,600 foot climb up out of Glen Aulin with views of dark red Mt Dana and Mt Conness marking the Sierra divide.  Because of the drought and our September days, we missed seeing some of our favorite Yosemite wildflowers, Lemmon’s Paintbrush, sticky  yellow Monkeyflower and Sierra Gentian.  Another year!  By the end of the 10 mile hike, we were all sweaty and tired and so happy to come upon beautiful Mae Lake that we all stripped and dove in.  It felt fabulous.  Only later did we see the “no swimming” sign—it turns out in the drought, the lake is needed for the camp’s drinking water.  Tasty!


Two beautiful shots taken by Mary Herne of (L) the sunrise coming up behind Mae Lake, and (R) the shimmering reflection on Mae Lake’s surface at sunrise.  No evidence, fortunately, of our inadvertent rule breaking swim.  Just beauty.


Day Three: Mae Lake Camp to Sunrise High Sierra Camp, following the original Tioga wagon road to Tanaya Lake, we climbed up the trail on a series of steep switchbacks  to Clouds Rest Junction.  Other hikers coming the other way assured us we were almost at the top and we must NOT miss taking a cut off west from the junction to a perfect overlook site for lunch.  Jim, Mary and I did that and even though we were tired from the climb, were SO glad we did. The overlook provided a dramatic vista of the valley carved by the movement of Tenaya Glacier, formed when a portion of the Tuolomne Glacier overflowed its basin into Tenaya Lake and down Tenaya Canyon. Oohing and Aahing, munching on our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we could look out over Half Dome and El Capitan from our perch. Returning to the trail inspired, we hiked the rest of another 10 mile day into Sunrise, a camp Jim and I had stayed at years ago, hiking from Vogelsang High Camp in the other direction.

Each tent cabin has a wood stove and bed space for six, but because several less-intrepid hikers than we had cancelled, we spread ourselves out nightly in two tents and kept cosy over the cold nights.

                                                                                           Jim, Stoking the Wood Stove at Sunrise

Day Four:  Sunrise is aptly named as it is situated on the edge of a huge meadow rimmed by peaks, a perfect place to get up early, which Mary and I did by starlight the next morning, the last morning on the trail, to meditate bundled up in parkas, long johns, blankets and booties, and watch in silent awe as the sun slowly lit up the peaks and crest, bringing in warmth and the day.  Sad to anticipate parting with our friends and the high Sierras, we set out on our last day’s hike back out to Tuolomne Meadows.  It was a gorgeous hike past Cathedral Peak and an opportunity for another beautiful side trip down to picnic on a huge granite outcropping overlooking Lower Cathedral Lake.  Switchbacking down the trail back to Tuolomne Meadows, another 10 miler, and we were thrilled to find the bus stop at the trailhead juncture with Tioga Road for the shuttle bus to save us an additional two more miles back to our starting point.  

The last  night over dinner and breakfast the last morning, we celebrated our friendship, our accomplishments, our courage in not cancelling the trip out of fear of a deer mouse, and our hopes to win the lottery another year for a return journey.


How to Score A Real Paniolo’s Boots—What a Score!

Categories: Adventure, Horses, Travel, Women's - Tags: , , , , , ,

This part of the island is a cowgirl’s paradise, vast expanses of grassy ranch land, rolling hills, rows of trees for windbreaks, valleys, cattle and beautiful horses, in the shadow of Mauna Kea crater and overlooking the Kohalo coast. And two of my best Santa Cruz cowgirl riding buddies Berta and Elise, are here this week, so we’re gonna ride!! Jim is disappointed that Brian, Berta’s husband has been unable to join us due to pressures from…..what is that distant memory? Work?

So Jim’s gamely joining the cowgirls for a day on Kahalo Ranch riding Na’alapa horses.

                                                                                   Stopping for a Drink
We drive back up toward Waimea to the Kohalo Ranch where we are greeted by the spirited Liz, a native islander who is a rockin’ cowgirl with a huge prize won rodeo belt buckle and saddle to prove it. She sizes us up and is greatly relieved to discover that we are all seasoned riders. “Can you believe it, when I see tourists getting out of their cars up here wearing stilettos and huge floppy hats, my heart sinks!”
Nope, no stilettos here. But not my usual riding garb, either. With the weight and girth of our tandem bike box, we had to pack minimally—so I’ve got on bike tights and bike shorts (not bad, actually, ‘cause they have a padded seat and no wrinkles to rub against the saddle) and the sneakers I planned to leave on the island. But Liz actually has a whole closet full of cowboy boots, heavy duty wind and rain gear and helmets, so we pick our sizes and suit up.

She carefully chooses a mount just right for each of us and I end up with Max, who is the personal horse of Kohalo Ranch owner’s granddaughter.

Jim and I Riding at Naalapa, Waimea, HI

Right away, I realize I am quadruple lucky: the weather is perfect, balmy, sunny and calm; Jim is riding today(!) with my cowgirl buddie; great horse and guide; and these well worn boots I’ve got on fit like a glove, way more comfortable even than my cowboy boots at home.The ride is a joy—the weather is clearly totally perfect and totally unusual, judging from the abundance of foul weather gear in Liz’s tack closet. We trot, we walk, we lope and we stop to gaze at the incredible views and take pictures.
And the surprise at the end, when I tell Liz I’m bonding with these old paniolo boots and so sad to take them off, she says, “Walk right on out, sister—I never saw it happen. They’ve got your name on them—and there’s plenty more at the thrift store in Waimea.” So, sad as we are for this trip to end, I’ll be walking and riding in these comfy old paniolo boots back at home before the week is out.

More Mules, in Eden?

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Horses, Relationships, Travel - Tags: , , , ,


Lulled by our extraordinary night of solitude at Laupahoehoe into every traveler’s dream of being the ONLY ones going wherever, it didn’t even cross my tropical brain to make advance reservations for a shuttle or mule driven wagon ride down into Waipi’o Valley. Dream on. All reservations, I discover are already fully booked—but we soldier on to the small country store past Honokaa to find luck is with us again. Because we do not weigh what average Hawaiian natives weigh (maybe averaging 500 pounds per couple) but only total out at 280 for the both of us, the mule wagon can handle us after all!

A 4WD Shuttle carries us down another phenomenally steep (27%) grade of switchbacks to the valley floor (Oh, well, on a bet Lance Armstrong was able to cycle straight up it in 47 minutes) where we meet our stalwart mules, Maui and his ornery brother Ma’iha, hitched and ready to take us around the isolated Eden of Waipi’o Valley, the sacred hiding place of King Kamehameha I during his infancy, and once home to thousands of reclusive Hawaiians cultivating taro, coconuts and bananas.


However in 1946 a great tsunami devastated the valley and now only 50 or so intrepid counter-culture types live here in huts mostly without amenities, but with more than enough solitude and beauty. The mules gamely pull the lurching wagon through rocky riverbeds and up muddy embankments while we pray it won’t flip over—or a camera won’t fly off into the drink.

After that fortuitous adventure, we carry on up through the vast ranch holdings of the Parker Ranch, across the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and down to the Kawaihae Coast on the dry, leeward side of the island.

We aim south, pointing Winnie toward Puako Beach and the land owned by our Aptos neighbors, and my horseriding buddy, Berta. We shimmy Winnie back into their Kiawe lined driveway to park and “camp” for the next four days, while Berta shouts warnings to us about the incredible damage Kiawe thorns (up to 2 ½ inch long and tough as nails) can do to tires and the soles of shoes.  Don’t even THINK of walking barefoot!

Kiwea Thorns! Look Out!!

But once we disembark, we are enchanted by the gorgeous cove that will be our last respite on this Pacific odyssey.


Puako Beach Where the Livin' Is Easy


Sleeping With Horses

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Dining, Horses, Relationships, Travel - Tags: , , , ,

To celebrate our thirty-first year together and our 28th wedding anniversary, Jim and I decided to celebrate our romance by sleeping with our horses.  No, not literally, but at the Point Reyes Country Inn and Stables in Marin County.  We’ve been going there now for the past three Septembers and so love it, we are only too happy to return.

View of Spectacular Pt. Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, CA

I polished the tack, washed the truck, cleaned up the horse trailer and spiffed up horses with baths. Shambhala, my chocolate Rocky Mountain gaited Horse with the flaxen mane and tail, always looks spectacular with or without a bath, but Cheyenne (my “Last White Horse”, she vowed) especially needs a bath.  Cheyenne is my dream horse—a little Kentucky Natural Gaited mare, she is a buckskin paint with white mane and black and white tail, four white legs, and large areas of buckskin and white.  She is the smoothest ride ever and the sweetest disposition I could imagine.  Her white legs, white rump and the white in her tail, however, are usually anything but white.  We have an ongoing battle with tarweed in our pasture, and when the tarweed wins, its sticky, gummy leaves rub off on the horses’ noses and legs, and wherever there’s white fur, it goes gunky dingy funk colored. So, before stepping out for a sleepover, shampoos are square one necessity.


We load up some picnic supplies for the trails, load up the beautifully clean “ladies” in the horse trailer, and set out for an intentionally midweek stay, as the weekends at Pt Reyes National Seashore are often very crowded, and after a long, unseasonably foggy summer, we are enjoying the dog days of Indian summer with a welcome hot spell.  The drive up is uneventful except for the shock of discovering the toll on the Richmond Bridge has gone up to $15 for truck and trailer, and soon to be $20!  Those trolls in the tollbooths have you by the short hairs.  Pay or go home.  So we pay.  We take off 101 onto a beautiful backcountry road north through the beautiful valley of Nicasio.  Jim had cycled there years and years ago, and remembers a wonderful cowboy bar and grill, which, to our delight, is unchanged and open and serving lunch on the patio under the oaks.  Giving the horses a few carrot snacks and letting them out of the trailer to relax under an oak tree, we decide to share a crab cake burger.  Delicious—and we know we’re on our way to a good celebration.


Arriving at the Point Reyes Country Inn and Stables, we’ve reserved “Same Room, Same Paddock, Same Time Next Year” so we settle in like old hands.  Shambhala and Cheyenne clearly love the big paddock with the huge oak tree in the corner and immediately check out the “boys” next door—a pair of black Tennessee Walkers and quite good lookers as well.  The girls are happy and so are we as we find our upstairs corner bedroom waiting—with one deck over looking the meadows and mountains in the back, and the other on the sunny side overlooking the wisteria covered patio and the paddocks below.  We unpack and prowl around the little village of Point Reyes Station, then savor the rest of the afternoon chez nous before dressing up for an absolutely stellar anniversary dinner of local fresh Tomales Bay oysters, fresh cod and wild caught salmon at the tony Olema Inn.

As the Inn is a B & B, we are served breakfast and meet other horsey folks visiting at the same time.  We swap stories about horses and riding plans.  Jim and I have ridden most of the trails in this beautiful area, so we’re looking for some we haven’t ridden yet.  All of us are leery of anything close to the two trails where some very aggressive bees have hives and have attacked both horses and riders, including one guest last week who ended up in the hospital after her horse went beserk. No, we won’t do the Wittenberg or the trails this year!   It’s predicted to be in the high 80s today, so we opt for the very southernmost park of the preserve and the coastal trail out of Palomarin, with a picnic ride to Bass Lake.  It turns out to be a gorgeous, dramatic nine mile ride with sweeping views from Drakes Bay south to Bolinas Bay, and a few stomach curdling drop offs down to the wave-pounding rocky coastline below.  The horses are barefoot, so the only drawback is some of the terrain is ouchy-rocky for them; I plan to put on their rubber booties if we ride on this type of terrain tomorrow.  Picnicking at the lakeside, Jim hoots out loud when a bright red claw emerges from the weeds of the murky bank—Whoa!  Guess a large sweet water crayfish is trolling for handouts!


Back at the inn, the horses check out the boys next door to their paddock and we shower off the trail dust and hot weather sweat before enjoying another relaxing evening and delicious repast at Stellina’s with a delightful young couple we’ve met at the inn—he’s a commercial pilot and she an Ecuadorean beauty and they are as interesting and charming as they are handsome.  We’re always happy when we meet new YOUNG and active friends and they love to ride!


Thursday, we decide to try the Rift Rim Trail toward Five Brooks out of the Bear Valley trailhead and we are delighted!  First of all, Cheyenne, who has never behaved very well at opening gates, has a star performance as we have about six gates out and back to open and she nails them all!  Second, there are vast open meadows with black Angus cattle grazing and an opportunity for some full out yee haw galloping!  The horses (and we) LOVE to pull out the throttle when there is good footing, excellent visibility and wide open space—beyond the big meadows, we come upon streams, leafy forest glens and best of all no other souls for the whole ride.  We end up riding back into the little village of Olema to share a salad and cup of clam chowder—its fun to tie up at the Olema Farmhouse tierack for lunch.  That afternoon, after retiring the horses and unhitching the trailer, we drive the truck up the coast to pick up a bountiful bakers’ double dozen fresh oysters and ice for the trip home to grill, so that withdrawal from this beautiful respite won’t be so hard to take.