Friday, May 2, 2014

Ferndale Ranch and Thacher School Return with San Juan Capistrano Trails Horseback Rider

John and Sunshine the Paint with San Clemente in the Distance
Sunshine the Paint and John on the SJC Trail
with San Clemente in the distance
Today I was momentarily transported to my days at The Thacher School and my grandparent's Santa Paula Ferndale Ranch when I met a horseback rider in the San Juan Capistrano Hill Trails. Taking another later morning walk in the sun I was again enjoying the sage and mustard scents in the warm wind when I heard a horse approaching from the rear.  Being on a hilly trail seeing only distant buildings it felt like the days of walking and riding horses in the Santa Paula and Ojai Canyons and mountains.

Horse and Rider walking up hill
John and Sunshine continue their ride

I was lucky enough to spend my summers growing up at my grandparents Ferndale Ranch (now Thomas Aquinas College) in the Santa Paula River Canyon where I learned to ride for pleasure and to herd cattle on semi-annual roundups throughout multiple properties almost the entire length of the Santa Paula Canyon towards town.  My good fortune continue when I spent my junior and senior high school years at The Thacher School in Ojai where horses and many outdoor activities  still are major school programs.  The school is nestled at the base of the Los Padres National Forest from which creeks pass through campus and the sage covered hills rise up to mountains behind the campus inviting riders and walkers to enjoy the beauty and solitude of California Chaparral.  I competed in gymkhana and took daily trail rides on campus and into the Los Padres Hills throughout my junior year.

Seeing John and Sunshine the Paint was refreshing and reflective as my mind wandered back to beautiful places and impressionable times and special people and also served as a reminder that those moments and the naturally beautiful sights and smells and individuals are still here and available to enjoy on a daily basis.

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