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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where the Horses Are

Large Furry Friends Await You at Raintree, Circle Bar B, and El Capitan Ranches

By Silvia Uribe

For people who have never been to California, some of the first things that come to mind are celebrities, surfing, tanned sculpted bodies, and the still prevailing old image of the wild West, replete with horses. It is true that you can find almost all of the above anywhere in California, including our beloved Goleta Valley. Except that the horses are not in evidence-at least at first glance.

I have always been amazed by the strength of these animals and the great distances that people were able to cover on their horses in the past. When that thought comes to me, I can't be thankful enough for other, more modern, more comfortable, faster transportation alternatives. However, having grown up with horses, I know how close one can feel to these very intelligent furry friends who seem to communicate with us with their huge lashed eyes, and who can teach us very good lessons in life-such as not to be too trusting of individuals (whether horses or people) that you don't know very well.

Click to enlarge photo

I set off to find out where the horses are in Goleta Valley, and how horse lovers here relate to this versatile animal that can simultaneously fill the role of pet, hobby, sport, and therapy. I also wanted to find out how much it would cost to maintain one. (I've never given up the hope that one day, I might be able to have my own again.) In this journey of discovery, I got more than I bargained for.

I started by simply looking for boarding services, and found out that you can shelter your horse at El Capitan Ranch (685-1147) for $600 per month (stall, shavings, and two feedings per day included), or $55 for overnight services.

For those interested in taking riding classes, Raintree Ranch Equestrian Center (451-9909) offers riding lessons at $65-$75 per hour. Not only that, they have summer camps, offering five-day sessions for $550 per session.

But, for those who really want to pamper themselves, I found something that I would describe as exquisite; something that not only brings you closer to horses and nature, but also helps you relax in a great atmosphere, even feel transported to a different world-a western summer vacation world. The Circle Bar B Ranch (968-3901) has packages that include a two-night stay, a bottle of chilled champagne upon arrival, two rejuvenating 60-minute massages in the privacy of your room, two therapeutic hour-and-a-half horseback rides through the gorgeous countryside, and three squares a day. On Sundays through Thursdays, you and a guest can enjoy any two nights for $690. And, you can also enjoy tri-tip dinner and live theater on the ranch's premises (at the Circle Bar B Dinner Theater) for another $45 per person.

Here's an idea. Next time that you want to surprise your honey with a romantic getaway, without having to travel great distances, go to any of the several ranches located right in our backyard and have all the fun you want and deserve.

As for me-facing the fact that I cannot afford to maintain my own horse due to the very common, however acute, pains of recession-I'll just keep my boots and hat ready to bring back those childhood memories by spending a couple of days having fun, western style, with horses. Yeeeehaaaa!

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latina perspective.

Cross-posted at the

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