Light Hands Horsemanship Clinic

I have just returned from the Light Hands Horsemanship clinic sponsored by Spaulding Labs Fly Predators, held at Art Perry’s Intrepid Farm in Santa Ynez, CA. I don’t attend many clinics, but I was drawn to this one by a variety of factors, including the location, which was attractive to my husband who spent the weekend biking in the scenic Santa Ynez Valley. I was also interested in viewing Art’s famous collection of Morgan memorabilia. The third thing that attracted me was the opportunity to see Eitan Beth-Halachmy and his Morgan stallion Santa Fe Renegade perform live. [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/oN0zjvlsPSY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

 Now that’s a showman and a Morgan Show Horse!!

We left home Thursday morning and spent the entire day traveling, including a four-hour layover in Dallas. It was a long, wearisome day crammed into teeny-tiny airplane seats (the bathroom was so small that my husband had to stand on the toilet in order to close the door), but it could have been worse. At least we weren’t traveling overland by stagecoach. It was dusk by the time we arrived at the Santa Barbara airport, which felt like landing in the Caribbean. You approach the airport from over the Pacific Ocean, and from the air, the airport looks like a Mexican restaurant with its small size and tiled roof. We rented a car for the 30-minute drive to our hotel in Buellton, home of Anderson’s Famous Split Pea Soup. (I never heard of it before either.) We drove along the coast highway but were unable to appreciate the scenery as by now it was after dark. Unfortunately, our return trip was also in the dark at 4:30 am, local time.

Friday morning my husband dropped me off at Intrepid Farm and took off in our rented convertible in search of adventure from the saddle of a bicycle. Travel Note: Mapquest and GoogleMaps have not yet visited the Santa Ynez Valley as there were errors in our printed directions from both sources. I wonder if this is where a GPS would come in handy. This part of California is definitely horse country. The ranches appeared to out-number the wineries. The landscape is extremely hilly and reminiscent of the south of Spain – no wonder the Spaniards settled here. Instead of olive groves, the hills were dotted with majestic California Oak trees.

At Intrepid Farm, it was a state of organized confusion as the clinic staff and vendors were busy setting up. It was much like the first day at a horse show. The first person I met was Bill Pettis who, it turns out, is an AMHA Director-at-Large, and a consummate gentleman. He offered me a ride to the first museum tour, the Museum of the Cowboy, which is actually a private collection of artifacts of the Old West, and took me out to lunch at the Burger Barn in the village of Santa Ynez. At lunch I was introduced to the Tri-Tip sandwich, a regional specialty of seasoned, sliced, roast beef on a sourdough roll. From Bill I was able to learn a little bit about how the AMHA Board works.

Upon our return to Intrepid I spent some time perusing the vendor booths and landscaping. The farm is surrounded and criss-crossed by white board fences. The driveway and gardens are lined with flowering rosebushes and gladioli. In front of the house is a large stone fountain surrounded by more rosebushes. In front of Art’s barn there is a bronze statue of a Morgan foal and child. The vendors set up surrounding the statue and offered many unique items for sale. There were custom-made boots by Huseby, home furnishings made with longhorn steer horns, horse-themed jewelry and artwork, hand-woven shawls, hats, and wall-hangings made by a real live flower child who used to graze goats for a living, custom-made Cowboy Dressage saddles, t-shirts and sweatshirts sporting designs drawn by 15 year old Allaura Stadel, a bookseller with all of the Vavre coffee table books and a tack shop. On display and also for sale was a restored stagecoach, which carries seven passengers. Talk about crammed in! And no toilet at all, much less one whose door won’t close!!

Finally, it was time for the tour of the Intrepid Collection. It started with a display of three of Art’s parade saddles, two of which were a his-and-hers pair of custom-made saddles covered in sterling silver that someone had to have spent several hours polishing. On the wall above the saddles was a photo of Art, Jeanne Herrick and Judy Nason riding in the Rose Parade. In the specially-built, 999 sq. ft. studio that houses the Intrepid Collection I saw antique weathervanes depicting the Morgan stallions Dexter and Black Hawk. There were bronze sculptures of Nocturne and Waseeka’s In Command made by Winnie DeWitt. [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/gtfIX09SIqc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /] There is the only known commemorative Morgan Horse Club, 1909 –1919, brass letter opener. There are original paintings by Jeanne Herrick of

Man About Town LPS
and Applevale Boy King,

in addition to the original Currier and Ives lithograph of the Four-In-Hand of Morgan Stallions.

Art owns one of the hand-written volumes of the Morgan Registry which was found in a dumpster and given to him. He also collects antique toys, Roy Rogers memorabilia, and bottle openers, but only the Morgan collection will go to the American Museum of the Morgan Horse once he is no longer able to care for it. Both the Intrepid Collection and his home were open to the clinic attendees throughout the weekend, but I resisted the urge to snoop around the house.

For anyone who does not know Art Perry, which before this weekend, I did not, he is a dead-ringer for his childhood idol Roy Rogers, right down to his Stetson, boots, and cowboy attire, although his diamond-encrusted watch made me think of Liberace. Art is obviously a fun-loving, extremely generous gentleman and an outstanding host.

Friday concluded with a barbeque provided by the RDL Chuck Wagon Catering Services of Brian Berry and Vicki Markley from Truchas, NM. The chuck wagon provided six wonderful meals over the course of three days, all cooked over a campfire. I was able to make a reservation for my husband to have meals with us and thanks to his ability to talk to anyone about anything; I met many more people than I would have on my own. There was live entertainment during dinner with country ballads sung by Ron Miller, who accompanied himself on acoustic guitar. My husband and I were impressed by the quality of his voice. This was not your average honky-tonk lounge lizard. After dinner we were mesmerized (yes, mesmerized) by the cowgirl poetry of Lauren La Rue, DVM. This was not something that I expected to enjoy, given that I generally just don’t get poetry and the lateness of the hour (eastern time), but her poetry, recited from memory, was all about living and working with horses and was very entertaining. I stayed until the very last poem was done. I don’t know if her work has been published, but I would love to have either the book or the CD.

That’s enough for today, after wrestling with YouTube for several hours. Over the next few days I’ll be posting more about what I observed and learned from the Light Hands Horsemanship Clinic.

3 Responses to Light Hands Horsemanship Clinic

  1. Black Eye Beth says:

    What a great write up MochaMom. I can’t wait to hear about the clinic itself. Sounds like the art/memorbilia collections were really cool.

  2. John Alcorn says:

    This was the second year (and mine also) for this clinic. It is an inspiration to see the men and woman who presented their horsemanship.
    Art Perry’s hospitality is without equal. Horsemanship clinics do not get any better than this (and the food is the best part!). Can’t wait for year three. Regards, John

  3. Oh my gosh, I was bored and googled my own name and what a wonderful surprise I got! Please tell Art Perry I said hello and please give him my email address to contact me – it’s been such a long time.

    It sounds as though you had a great time. Art Perry is a terrific man and had been a very dear friend of my mother, Mary DeWitt

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