Dancing in the Light

This time of year, long evening shadows grace our valley, our woods.

Drawing out the shapes, the colors, the motion of our end-of-day rides.

Long Shadows



Creating a certain nostalgia.

Projecting glimpses onto ground, grass, bark, leaves . . .


Here, a tail wisping — just a glance — against a pinon.

Now, legs lurching — a brief peek — then gone.



Highlighting our ride. Illuminating the periphery —

Calling my eye, my heart, to ponder.


Feelings flood back — barren winter.

Reminding me of how long it’s been since the warm shadows last appeared.

Now, the shape of my horse’s head, ears, mane — glints from another pine tree.

All of it dancing, moving.

Creating the feeling of Spring.

Projecting light-art, the original motion picture — only seen quite like this, when the sun comes round the mountain, this time of year.

Laddie Tree Shadow


As we leave the woods, off to the south — a long, golden shaft illuminates greenish-to-rust-toned foliage.



As if it will never end.

Like Life. Like our Ride.

As if the green grasses will never wither — never fade.


But this — illusory.

Day is done.

Sun setting, westward.

All seasons change.

Like the years. Like the moonlight.

Calling me to take comfort in the Dancing Light of my Ride — today.


Aria, Ella and Hokuleia

Aria, Ella and baby, Hokuleia.

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283


Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

Copyright 2017


May 27, 2017 · 9:33 am

Time Traveler

How many of us have the good fortune, throughout the span of our lives, to re-visit the best of our emotional childhood?

That passionate inner space that stirs your heart to overflowing . . .

Which touchstones open your vault of stored memories?

  • The fluttering silhouette of leaves and light on a curtain?
  • The beach? A hike? Petting a cat, or a dog?
  • The smell and the sounds of the day shifting — from morning . . . to afternoon . . . to evening?

Throughout my life, my access point remains the same: Riding my horse into Nature!

I entered that portal yesterday, and I danced, once again, between worlds.

* * *


All my hopes and dreams for you have come true!

You are my Starboy’s next generation. Starboy, yet bigger, younger. (See My Horse is So Cute! as well as Search: Starboy on this blog for more :))

  • Gliding gaits, smooth. Exuberant.
  • Responsive. Sensible.
  • Every horse-girl’s dream :))

You carried me into dreamland yesterday. And I loved every step . . .

Full. Rich. The emotions stirred deep inside.

Bubbling. Roiling.

Like the ocean waves that serenaded my early childhood years. Growing up on the sand, in Malibu, on then-pristine Trancas beach.

* * *

Maybe it seemed more poignant yesterday because of winter’s intervention.

(This being a snowy, wet and cold one up here in the mountains, I’ve only ridden once since November.)

So absence, indeed, made my heart throb fonder.

As I entered the forest gate, I entered my Time Traveling World.

* * *

All the forest seemed alive, calling back folders of stored emotions. Like a personal file cabinet, from which my entire life opened, and flowed . . .

Lacy shadows cascading across green spring grasses.

I’m riding Rebel, my childhood horse again.

Young. Strong. Filled with hope.

Cool breeze accompanied with warm sunshine, the perfect combination.

Malibu. Elementary School.

Easter time. Wind and warm.

All the world alive, fresh, new.

Yellow blossoms erupting along the Pacific Coast Highway: Clusters of Giant Coreopsis, fields of mustard and Oxalis, bush sunflowers, tidy tips, sticky monkey flowers.

Springtime’s fragrant scent.

Blue sky, fluffy clouds. Hovering, floating.

Teenage again!

Riding Rebel behind Will Rogers State Park in the Pacific Palisades.

Endless sky. Endless opportunities.

My life as endless as the horizon surrounding me . . .

Towering Ponderosa tree, here, just off the trail. Still healthy and full and alive. Handsome Granddaddy of our woods.

Motherhood  now. Two lovely daughters.

My girls would ride into the forest here when they were young, tie up the horses, climb into this tree — sing, and play their flutes.

One day, they reported to me: “Mamma! We watched a calf being born in the woods today. We were up in the tree. The cow was in the bushes, near the wash . . . ”

In my mind, I see that calf being born, each time I ride past. I see it again now, and I see and feel the amazement of new life, once again, in my daughters’ eyes.

Across the way, the spot where my daughter, Anna’s, hair was caught by a snag and pulled from her Shetland pony, Silver.

The pain — how she cried! How hard it was to console her. Pulled from her pony by her hair, by a low-hanging finger of a tree.

Up from the wash, into the meadow now. Yellow carpet of Gold Field flowers, tiny blossoms painting the ground in swirling, creamy hues.

I’m here again, the first time we discovered the meadow in full golden bloom, when Fae was young, green, her maiden voyage that Spring. Anna, teenage now, riding her bareback.

I had my camera that day and I photographed the gangly forms of horse, and rider.

I see it again now: Anna sliding off, picking a tuft of yellow florets, and placing them in both her own hair, and in the forelock and browband of Fae’s bridle. Her long legs hopping, stretching, leaping back on again, in acrobatic precision.

Our cantering spot. Our Toodle Canyon . . .

The pond, dried in the drought of the past several years, now full, heart-shaped, inviting wildlife to sip and horses to spook at their smells.

I’m here again, with my girls — long-since moved away. With my horses — many now, passed to the other side. With my faraway Malibu childhood. Juxtaposed in emotional envelopes, side, by side, by side . . .

Alive again. Decades past.

Time travels. Flashes back.

      Re-living all the feelings. Again.

          Timeless. Alive. All without end . . .

Like an endless loop. Like “The Song That Never Ends”. Playing and re-playing over, and over, again . . .

And all along our ride: The Silent Sentinels (dead trees). Once majestic. Now sliver.  Aged. Wise.

My favorite one, still standing. Broken off at the top. Burned and hollowed below by some long-ago fire. Surrounded by fallen comrades. Twisted, faded.

Enter the longings of Grandmother and Mom, Grandfather and Dad.

Age and wisdom. Hope and loss.

Guideposts of Spirit and values. Philosophy and goodness.

Once here and viable. Now fading. Yet watching, still.

And right along side the bygone, the Old — sprouts the next generation: Fresh. New. Growing.

Encouraging, even in their decay. Our ancestors understand far more than us youngin’s Life’s endless cycles, and wherein we play. In. Out. Endless. Timeless.

All this to the music, the metronome, of my horse’s dancing mane. His flowing neck, swinging. Ticking off each stride.

Each hoofbeat, each memory, each emotion . . . connected through the stride and the dancing mane of my most amazing, time-traveling, doorway to another world: My horse!

* * *


* * *

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

* * *

Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

Copyright 2017


May 4, 2017 · 2:32 am

Praising Starboy

Yes, the day is balmy.

Yes, my horse is fresh.

And though we haven’t saddled up since November,

I’m riding Starboy, today, at his best!

* * *

He feels like we’ve never waited

For winter’s snow, mud, ice, to end.

We’ve picked up where we left off,

Starboy, my timeless friend.

* * *

Gliding in perfection,

Flowing with his every silken move —

All, with nuance, dance today

In horse and human groove :))

* * *

How the woodlands beckon,

Starboy’s pace abounds.

Praising precious Starboy,

Hoofbeats, smiles, resound :))

* * *

Awesome, wondrous, synchronized,

How best to describe the day?

Finding bliss on Starboy —

Then feeding his dinner hay :))

* * *

Long Shadow Starboy

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

– – –

Copyright 2017


April 5, 2017 · 9:42 pm

Why Ride?

This sounds so stupid.

Do I really need to define it?

Yes . . . I need to know . . . Why do I want to RIDE?

Because resistance requires it.

Resistance makes me lazy. Unseats my resolve. And unless I know just why I must get out and go riding, I might not go at all . . .

– – –

What motivates me to leave my cushy cabin, cruise out the door wearing boots, bearing treats . . . to actually ride/drive/longe or otherwise DO something with my horse(s)?

When I was younger, all I wanted to do was to ride! In fact, you couldn’t stop me if you’d tried. (see post: Ride for Little Dawn)

But Life, age, work, motherhood, responsibilities — even habit — gnaws away at the motivation.

I have the horses, the saddles, the carriages, the harness, the necessary gear. I even have the time these days . . .

And riding season at our mountain elevation has just now become possible.

Aria --  Looking

So I set out this afternoon, this First-Day-of-Spring after our LONG wet and snowy,  Finally-Breaking-the-California-Drought Winter, and made a list for myself of all the reasons to RIDE!

Because if my motivation isn’t strong enough, clear enough, I could miss out . . .

I could sit here at home rather than interact with my amazing life-long herd of homebred horses.

And frankly, time is running out. Or rather onward. Forward.

Starboy is 26 already. How long will he be willing to carry me? Fae, Aria, Laddie, perfect in their training. Perfect in soundness, readiness, willingness.

Don’t waste this, Dawn! Go out there and hit the trails, and live my horse life to the fullest!

Starboy in Sunlight

– – –

Why is Horsing important to me?

  • My horses depend upon me for their food, board, water, EXERCISE, training and care.
  • They have done all that I’ve asked of them. They await now, fully trained, fully able, for me to allow their physical freedom and expression.
  • Without me taking them OUT, their potential lies dormant, unfulfilled, WASTED. Yes, they live in a large, spacious pasture setting. Yet they will not cut loose, cannot cut loose, to freely gallop and breathe the wind, without me taking them into the woods and allowing them this freedom!
  • Like my daughter’s harp, like her piano, here in my living room — without her to play, the instruments sit fallow. No magic. No music. But with the horse — Starboy, Laddie, Aria, Fae — it’s not just an instrument made of steel and wood, but a living, breathing being, filled with Majesty! With God. With Life itself! Made to run like the wind! Domesticated, and bred, and raised by me — for partnership with me!
  • By not fulfilling my end of the partnership, I dishonor my horse’s very life! Their reason and purpose of being.
  • I bred these horses, sacrificed greatly for them; I traveled and flew to Hawaii and worked on countless other hooves and horses in order to pay for them. This riding, driving, LOVE of these horses is the very reason for all the work I’ve done — not to sit at home, but for to RIDE! DRIVE! And to share these magnificent horses with others!
  • These horses are the reason I’ve cleansed and fasted and figured out my diet and taken supplements and lost weight and regained my health.
  • These horses are my reason to LIVE! And if I don’t utilize my time with them, I’m being duped by a false illusion that my couch is my life — not true!
  • I get to schedule my horse days and fulfill them in order to honor both my horses, and Little Dawn!
  • Little Dawn lived for horses. I promised her I’d give her time to ride later, after college, after the kids were grown, after Hawaii, after hoof work and blog work and journaling . . .
  • Now I have the time. Now I must honor both girl, and horse, and make the commitment to my horse-girl connection and not let BS stop me, or laziness, or time robbers . . .

Dillingham Sunset

– – –

So here I go . . .

  • I want to RIDE to feel good.
  • I want to RIDE to honor Starboy, Laddie, Aria, Fae. (As well as Mentor, Fanta, Rebel, Stargirl, and all my horses before and since . . . )
  • I want to RIDE to honor Dawn, Little and Middle, and some day Old . . . to stay Young, Fresh, Alive, and Vital!
  • I want to RIDE for Life!
  • I want to RIDE for Goodness!
  • I want to RIDE for those who cannot; who wish they could; who never will.
  • I want to RIDE for those who USED to ride; who’ve since retired; gone lame; passed on . . .
  • I want to RIDE for Today; for Tomorrow.
  • For This Year; for Next Year . . . For Eternity.
  • I want to RIDE for Meditation.
  • I want to RIDE for Beauty.
  • I want to RIDE for Spirit. Soul. Majesty.
  • I want to RIDE for Joy. Exuberance. Fun!
  • I want to do my duty and RIDE!!!

rainbow hoof

– – –

I want to RIDE:

With a SMILE on my face.

With ZIP in my step.





– – –

Remember the Long Horizon, Dawn.

Ride, LIVE, for the Long Horizon . . . and you’ll get HERE!!

Right where you are, today.

Home with my horses, all fed, warm.

Winter’s frozen snows melted. Spring’s bright sky.

Shedding fur coats, budding catkins.

Rising sap into yet unformed leaves, the canopy of Summer to come.

The promise of fullness in trail rides, gallops, adventures . . .

The satisfaction of a horse life, fulfilled.

Ride on!!!

– – –

Long Shadows and Lad

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

– – –

Copyright 2017


March 20, 2017 · 11:49 pm

Laddie, Light My Fire!

Dateline:  Pacific Palisades, California

The year:  1967

I can still picture the scene.

I’m in my early teens, trotting and galloping the dirt fire roads above Will Rogers State Park, riding my first horse, Rebel — the fulfillment of my life-long horsey dreams.

Alongside the horn of my Western saddle bounces the buckskin pouch I sewed myself, containing my small transistor radio — precursor to the Walkman, the iPod, the Smart Phone.


KRLA, my favorite Los Angeles rock station, is playing the long, seven-minute version of The Doors, Light My Fire.

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire

I rise and fall with Rebel’s swift and powerful movement, to the sound, the feel, the rhythm . . .

Come on Baby light my fire!

Listen to The Doors here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deB_u-to-IE

Carousel Horses

It’s a magical time. Along with Disneyland, The Beatles, vinyl discs, Star Trek . . . Jim Morrison’s rifts frozen into the framework of my Baby Boomer’s generation coming of age.

This song nails it — encapsulating the elation, the freedom, the escape of riding Rebel — from my everyday, junior-high life.

You know that it will be untrue
You know that I will be a liar

If I was to say to you,
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher . . .


Light My Fire became Rebel and my theme song.

I can’t listen without transporting back to the rhythm of hoof-beats, the feeling of freedom, the smell of chaparral — and hot sweaty horse.

That, and the GIANT SMILE on my otherwise trying-to-figure-life-out teenage face.


Laddie Shadow

(From my journal, written the night Laddie came together to really RIDE :))


Laddie, Light My Fire!

Fast forward: Fortysomething years later, Frazier Park, California

The Scene: Riding my homebred gelding, Laddie, in the woods!

Same rhythm. Same hoofbeats. Same theme . . .

Girl on horseback, experiencing flight. Freedom. Escape from everyday reality into Pegasus’ realm.


You see, Laddie came together tonight. And transformed from ‘sticky, green’, to full-blown, Rebel-style Light My Fire!



Homebred Horse!

We started riding Laddie May, 2012, as a four year old.

Born August 22, 2008, I like to wait to start them. Give them time to grow and mature . . .

Especially being half-Arabian. Especially being part-draft, part-Shire.

(For some reason, the smaller horses and the bigger horses seem to take longer.)

Although half-Arabian, Laddie pulled his Grand-Shire’s genes, with Arabian accents. He looks very Welsh Cob: big curvy neck, heavy hindquarters, large high-stepping hooves, complete with feathers.

He’s the third of my four generations of offspring. And I find him the most interesting!

Baby Laddie


Training Notes

You see, training horses comes together little by little, in fits and starts.

From the time they are born, you move them in the general direction that you wish to accomplish — personable, and mannered, and safe.

Yet, by their very nature, horses are cantankerous, and dangerous, and animated.

They kick and bite and strike. In a word: Wild!

No healthy young horse I’ve known walks up and allows itself to be haltered — walking perfectly, following.

Some are easier than others, yet, like a Mustang off the range, little foals have to learn all that.


Apply By Layers 

My favorite description of training horses is like applying varnish to wood. It must be done in thin coats, allowed to dry — and sanded between, in order to shine.

You cannot just dump the stuff on in one session, but must lay it down, layer by layer, building, just so — and stopping at just the right time, to let the lessons sink in . . .

Sometimes you make progress. Other times you just back off and give them time to grow.

The biggest question: Is this horse suited to what I want to use him for? Does he have the build, the mind, the temperament to be safe and fun?

Some individuals, some breeds, fail this requirement. It’s taken me years to work out the mixture, but I’ve got it now, and I treasure it!

Laddie Looking


Our Method of Starting Horses

When we first take our young horses out into the woods, we let them run along with the group, free. Then, later, on a rope. And then we let them run free again.

It starts with learning to yield, to submit — to ropes and leadines and people.

Building, ever building, on what has been done before — adding weight and saddles, girth and tack.

They also must learn about trails and footing, trees, rocks and stumps. Barking dogs, speeding cars, loud motorcycles. Gates, mailboxes, dumpsters. Flushing quail, jack rabbits. And a thousand other things that can occur on a ride.

Once, riding Starboy solo, I heard a massive boom. He spooked in place, dipping, but fortunately not slipping off the steep trail. I thought there must have been a gas explosion from one of the houses below.

Turns out it was the Space Shuttle, Enterprise, coming in for a landing at Edwards Air Force Base, a hundred-plus miles from here! The Shuttle broke the sound barrier — right over our heads — and spooked my horse. How do you prepare for something like that???

Ladie and Hoku looking


First Time Up

We first hop on their backs, unsaddled, in the yard, after they are relaxed from a good workout — one of us standing at his head, helping the other on.

No stress, no drama.

Quietly up, praising and scratching.

On and off both sides.

Invariably, they reach around with their neck and sniff and chew at our feet, as if to say, “Hey! What’cha you doing up there Ma???”

Layer by layer.

All this prep takes place over the first several years.


First Ride!

When it’s time for their first real ride, we utilize the herd again. Horses do better in a group than by themselves, so we capitalize on this instinct.

For his first ride we took Laddie out, running along with us for over an hour, working his exuberant youthful energy down — swift-moving through the woods, up the wash, past the galloping place, to the turn-around . . .

My brave daughter, Ella, hopped on bareback and rode without a bridle, just a rope halter, for a good forty-five minutes — Lad, flowing along with the group, not at all concerned about having a rider on his back.

Instead of continuing back toward home, we turned up a side trail, now cantering, riding farther away from home so he wouldn’t be in a hurry — again working with his instincts.

Then she hopped off and back onto her horse, letting Lad run home free, with the herd.

Thus he learns the A B C’s of carrying a person, and doing our bidding as a trail horse — organically, by degrees.


Saddled Rides

The early saddled rides out from the barn can be interesting. The horse can get ‘sticky’ at any point — get confused, and not want to go. Or turn and bolt . . . with a big leap to the side.

You plan, as best you can, to have everything work in your favor.

Calm day. No wind. No barking dogs or speeding cars or new dumpsters or the like, but even on a country roadway, so much is outside of our control.

My first saddled ride on Lad involved twilight and a nearly full moon, a dark shoulder-less dirt roadway. All going well — then, surprise! The roar of an engine grinding towards us . . . headlights shifting through the willow trees. Face-to-face with the local septic pumping truck — the Big Rig, no less!

But because of all we’d put into him, Laddie handled it beautifully. (His mother, Fae was the one who spooked and pranced in place that night!)

And Laddie’s come along really well. Strong leader. Retaining what I put into him.

Still a bit spooky and sticky and hesitant and green. But smart and smooth — growing in confidence. And willing . . .


Stylized -- Laddie, McGill


Laddie, Light My Fire!

So when Laddie finally gave me his speed, his strength, his willingness to carry me without hesitation tonight (and on a solo ride, no less!) it signaled a milestone. So many years in the making!

And I praised him.

And I stroked his big neck.

And I whooped and hollered for joy!

And we flew through the woods, into the realm of Pegasus.

And I heard the Doors, and I felt the rhythm:

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire

And I rose and fell with Laddie’s swift and powerful movement . . .

And my eyes watered with the speed.

And a GIANT SMILE spread over my now-wiser, horse-satisfied face . . .

Come on Baby light my fire!
Try to set the night on fire . . .

AAAAhhhh! You’re AWESOME, Lad!

How FANTASTIC is that!!!!


Listen to more of the Doors here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ed9BjZcoXM

Rick Riding :))

Postscript:  Laddie continues to mature, AWESOME — turning eight this year. He happily carries (and cares for) those fortunate enough to ride him :))

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

Dawn & Laddie -- McGill II

Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

Kailua Ferrari


Copyright 2013, 2016


April 22, 2016 · 9:40 pm

Ride Life! The Reins . . .

Molokai Mural

What can we learn from horses, and horseback riding, that will help us to Live our day-to-day Lives?

Turns out, plenty.

I refer to this as: Ride Life!


Ride Life!


Unpredictable, thousand-plus-pound animals that we humans, throughout the centuries, somehow learned to tame, control, direct and partner with — from marching to battle and plowing fields, to racing and hunting . . .

To meandering trails and wild-paced gallops — just for sheer joy and pleasure!

I’m often amazed at the similarities between successful riding and controlling our horses, and Navigating the Potentially Out-of-Control Ride we all call Life.


I work with horses — you could call me a horse expert.

I’ve bred and birthed them, raised and trained them, saddled and shod them, carriage driven and ridden them.

And I’ve observed in that grand arc of horse experience that many of the skills and strategies we learn from our horses can help us Live our own human Lives.

Naje with Leaf Shadows


Horse Goal:  To partner with my horse; to ride in harmony with her; to unite with her, trust her. Meld with her, be ONE with her . . . and with the ride my horse and I take. To learn from the ride, record the ride, ENJOY the ride!

Life Goal:  To partner with my Life — my bigger goals, my higher self; to live in harmony with my Life; to unite with, trust, meld with, be ONE with . . . the Ride my Life takes. To learn from the Ride, record the Ride, ENJOY the Ride!


Constantly Adjust

One of the strategies required to successfully ride horses, is constantly adjusting my riding seat, my body posture, my hands . . .

For example, when all goes well:

* My body, my hips, all move with the swaying rhythm of my horse’s back

* My shoulders, my arms and hands, follow that swinging movement

* I hold the reins loosely, my arms outstretched, relaxed, everything flowing in unison . . .

* (And I SMILE :))


Yet as my horse carries me, her head, neck, and back forever move — and this movement secretly, silently, pulls the reins — millimeters, centimeters, inches — from my hands.

Therefore, I must constantly adjust my hand position on the reins, or face the fact that my hands become ineffective, and I’ve lost control.


The Zone of Contact

There is an area, out in front of me, where my reins and my hands are effective in stopping, turning, and controlling my horse.

We’ll call it my “zone of contact”.


It’s a sweet place, this zone, where soft, yielding wrists and fingers are forever a slight touch or “feel” away from contacting my horse’s mouth — my horse’s mind, that which controls the drive-train, if you will . . .

With my soft hands in this zone, my horse feels free to move forward, unhindered by me — which is what I want.

I want to bring out the very best in her, for the best partnership and cooperation, the most unity and enjoyment.


If I hold my hands too much in front of this zone, my reins too short — I choke my horse’s ability to move.

Too much behind, my reins too long — a big gap exists, making me unable to seamlessly control my horse’s tempo, direction and speed.

If I hold my hands outside of the zone, my movements will be jerky, rough. She will resist me. Resent me. Our smooth partnership aborts.


Therefore, the need to constantly adjust . . . which an experienced rider does without thought.

The horse’s movements pull the reins — the rider adjusts — the reins pull — the rider adjusts . . .

And so it goes, like a tennis player adjusting her racket, a surfer shifting the angle of his body on his board, a skier setting the edges, cutting into the icy slope.


Ride Life!

Now what does this have to do with the Ride we call Life?

Life Goal:  To partner with my Life — my bigger goals, my higher self; to live in harmony, in peace, with my Life; to unite with, trust, meld with, be ONE with . . . the Ride my Life takes. To learn from the Ride, record the Ride, ENJOY the Ride!


Happy Horsing

Like our horse, Life is constantly moving, changing.

And like my horse, Life’s-forever-movement secretly, silently, pulls the reins — the safety zone, the control — from my hands. Millimeters, centimeters, inches, at a time.

But how do I adjust my hand position on Life’s reins? Or face the fact that my hands have become ineffective, and I’ve lost control!

Where is my “Zone of Contact”, and how do I Ride Life ? ? ?


The Zone of Contact

Let’s look at where Life’s Zone of Contact isn’t.

* It isn’t found in freaking out.

* It isn’t found in clutching tight.

* It isn’t found in closing my eyes, holding my breath and “hoping for the best” any more than riding my horse would succeed with that approach . . .


Life’s Zone of Contact is a sweet place where soft, yielding thoughts and aspirations are forever a slight touch or “feel” away from my Life’s purpose, motivation — that which controls the drive-train, if you will. That which keeps me connected and on the very Ride . . .

With my soft, yielding thoughts in this zone, my Life freely moves forward, unhindered by me — which is what I want.

I want to bring out the very best in my Life, the best Partnership and Cooperation, the most Unity and Enjoyment.


If I hold my thoughts — my actions ­­– fearfully, too much in front of this Zone, I choke my Life’s ability to move.

Lackadaisically, my thoughts and actions too much behind, a big gap exists, making me unable to steer my Life’s tempo, direction and speed.

When I live Life outside of the Zone, my movements are jerky, rough. My higher self resents me. Resists me. Our smooth partnership aborts.


Constantly Adjust

Therefore, the need to constantly adjust . . . which an experienced Life-Rider does without pause . . .

Life’s movements pull the reins — the Rider’s thoughts and actions adjust — Life pulls — the Rider, again, adjusts . . .

And so it goes, when fear and resistance attempt to pull against us — we adjust, yielding — loosening thoughts, embracing goodness — taking action . . .

~ Toward love. And trust. ~

~ Toward harmony. And peace. ~

~ Toward my bigger goals, my higher self. Again. ~


And so I’m reminded to Ride Life, like I ride my horse — on meandering trails and wild-paced gallops — just for sheer joy and pleasure!

And it’s true!

I’m often amazed at the similarities between successfully riding and controlling my thousand-plus-pound-horses . . .

And Navigating the Potentially Out-of-Control Ride we all call Life.




Copyright 2015

Like what you’ve read here? Please visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn




December 15, 2015 · 4:40 pm

My Horse: My Airplane

It’s Starboy’s 25th birthday this month! Born in Malibu, I remember so well . . . and still he’s healthy, sound — ready to fly like a Piper Warrior, into the woods at endurance speed — and enjoy!

In tribute to Starboy, here’s a jovial piece from my journal, written December, 2012.

Señor Starboy :))

Señor Starboy :))


My Horse: My Airplane

My horse is an airplane, my airplane, and my soul longs to take up his yoke and soar.

As I roll open the gate and lead him from his barn-hanger, I feel the thrill of knowing that we’ll be in the air, soon.

Like my fellow aviators, I administer my preflight routine: Brush off his hair coat—check. Pick out his hooves—check. Pad, saddle, girth, bridle—check, check, check.

Starboy, Aria, ready to go . . .

Pilot and Aircraft — ready to go . . .


Before I mount, I run my hand across his silky neck, and I remember my dad’s first airplane, when I was very young. After all, it was a horse – an airplane called a Piper Colt — a tiny economical two-seater with not metal, but a painted cloth exterior.

I remember Dad being extra careful in his preflight check to be sure there were no scrapes or tears in the thing. (Fortunately, there never were.)

Dad told my brother and me, “Don’t touch the skin – it’s thin as paper! You could poke your finger through it by mistake!”

Gee, Dad, I thought. How safe is that?

Dad with an earlier plane.

Dad with an earlier plane.


Fortunately my plane is made of proper flesh – no paint-coated cloth cut-outs for me.

I stand back and admire how he looks: Sturdy sleek lines, aerodynamic contours, built to take on the task at hand.

My open air, VariEze-Berkut-Lear-Jet experimental model (Starboy) is ready to take me into the skies!

I climb up onto his fuselage, clamor into his cockpit. Secure.

We idle out of the ranch, down the taxiway, ready to accelerate, to elevate, to leave earth’s gravity and experience the weightless thrill of unfettered flight.


VariEze experimental aircraft designed by Burt Rutan. 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia: By Stephen Kearney (Personal collection.)


Once in the forest, I ease in the throttle – and we’re air-born – just like that! How effortlessly he melds with the winds aloft, soaring up the trail.

Sensitive, responsive, like the best-made craft, my horse climbs, hooves churning, pouring on the power, heaving forth into the great expanse.

His silken mane flaps with the currents, his hooves kick up dust-particle-vortices – beware traffic following too close behind!

Starboy's flying mane

Gliding, soaring, we yaw, pitch, and roll our way through the cool-air, wooded-wonderland, my face smiling in delight – whooping out loud, praising Starboy, awakening the little girl in me who always loves to fly.

I remember seeing houses, all the rows of houses and driveways and cars and swimming pools, and how small they looked from above.

I remember falling asleep in the back of Dad’s next, bigger airplane, his Beechcraft Bonanza, on the way home from Disneyland – at 2am – where Dad worked as Bandleader at the Park.

(Listen to Dad’s Disneyland music here: Elliott Brothers Orchestra at Disneyland  — Read more about Dad here: You Can Do Anything and Family of Flying.)

I remember half-awaking to the lullaby sound of the engine, feeling the bumps and swoops of flight, the plane gently caressing me — Dad in the cockpit, a serene look on his face — the small red light, and the glow of the instrument panel illuminating his profile.

I hear the sounds of the radio, static, clicking in and out, and the voice of Dad’s nightly Air Traffic Controller friend at the LAX tower, “How’s it going up there, Mickey Mouse?”

Old Control Tower at LAX

The Old Control Tower at LAX — in operation when Dad flew his nightly Disneyland commute.


I dodge a tree branch before it snaps me in the face, Starboy soaring, sailing his way upward.

The forest footing feels damp today, boggy in places, snow patches here and there. Not to fear. Acrobatic maneuvers are Starboy’s specialty!

He dances and darts to firmer ground, wiggles his wings, loops the loop and skillfully applies the laws of aerodynamics in his own horsey way.

We barnstorm the woods like a Curtis Jenny with it’s Hispano-Suiza engine my Grandfather told of from his 1918 days in the Army Air Service, WWI.

Grandfather vintage shot -- Curtis Jenny with Hispano Suisa engine.

Grandfather in mechanic suit, holding the prop.  — Curtis Jenny with Hispano Suisa engine.

I remember pouring through Grandfather’s vintage monotone photographs, held into the book by little black paste-on corners. His six-foot-tall frame looked small next to the massive cowling, props, and engine of the planes he flew and worked on as mechanic.

One day, after I started flying, Grandfather explained his favorite acrobatic maneuver, the Chandelle – think Flex-Straw.

He thrust his now-aged hand above him into a steep climb – steel-blue eyes following – rotating into an upward U-turn, doubling back and continuing on – smiling now, just a bit – re-living the thrills of his earlier adventures, before career and kids and life set in . . .

I took Grandfather flying just once, about two years after I’d gotten my pilot license – out of Santa Monica. He hadn’t been in a small plane since Dad had passed, a decade before.

I grabbed his wiry eightysomething arm and helped him into the cockpit next to me, where he sat stoic, looking out at the mountains, and homes, and landscapes below. (I remember the feeling of intense responsibility in piloting him, and great relief in returning him, unharmed, to Terra firma.)

Before he died, he gave me his log book, documenting fifty hours of flight training, as well as his original leather military flight helmet, faded and tattered by time. (Which, when I tried it on my head, fit, perfectly!)

Grandfather, U.S. Army Air Service, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Grandfather, U.S. Army Air Service, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.


Starboy’s reins feel warm in my gloved hands, transmitting soft contact through rudder and aileron, saddle and leg. No extra right rudder needed to offset this engine torque! Coordinated turns, perfect bank, my airplane’s motion satisfies my soul with fine-tuned grandeur.

And I realize how fortunate I am – how very few who set out to be pilots, very few who endeavor to be horsemen, really master the art, melding as one with their craft.

And I recall my own years of flight over these very mountains, alone at the controls of my rented Cherokee Warrior aircraft.

I remember well one crisp winter day, smiling, singing, weaving above ridgelines and canyons dusted in sugar-coated snow – songs of Judy Collins playing on my at-the-time high-tech Sony Walkman.

Rows and flows of angel hair

          And ice cream castles in the air

                   And feathered canyons everywhere,

                             I’ve looked at clouds that way…

Rows and Flows of Angel Hair

We turn onto a spur trail now, a shortcut toward home. Starboy’s neck stretches, his engine begs more RPM’s. I hold him back – I’m the pilot, he’s the craft. No runaway-out-of-control tailspins for us!

As we rise and fall with the updrafts, the forest smells beautiful today. Early winter silver boughs sparkle in the late-day sun. It’s a perfect flight on Starboy, doing what we love best…

And I remember my life back then, twentysomething entrepreneur, grabbing onto the yoke of life, the Fashion Industry’s fickle trends dictating my every move.

Sales, manufacturing, Boutique shows, employees. And yet all I really wanted was to find a way to make a living with horses. To ride – and fly – and soar into dimensions of the soul…

Here I am, third generation pilot, with a Piper Tomahawk. (My Mom shot this pic.)

Here I am, third generation pilot, with a Piper Tomahawk. (My Mom shot this pic.)

I never tire of the energy, the spectacle, the lightness of flight. How it lifts me out of my earthly doldrums and whisks me into whimsy. And now, here on Starboy, flying home. Satisfied.

Mid-life Dawn winks an eye at her former self, knowing that I’m flying again, like I always have. Cherishing my well-tuned craft and his subtle response to my slightest cues. Just the way it should be.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now,

          From here and there and still somehow

                   With life’s illusions I recall

                             I really don’t know life, at all…

Turning base, descending for our landing now, I see the houses of our valley – like the houses from the airplanes of my youth. And I smile. Big!

Because I’ve looked at life from both sides now, lived life from both sides up in the air, and down on the forested earth. And I’m here, flying Starboy right now just where I most like to be.

Starboy on the Trail

We touch down at the forest gate soft, smooth. Then taxi the final stretch to our glider’s home port.

Starboy whinnies, deeply, to the other members of his herd, who answer in shrill reply.

But instead of refueling with Avgas, my Bonanza-Warrior-Hispano-Suiza-Starboy dines tonight – on alfalfa hay!

Starboy in Sunlight


Copyright 2012, 2015


Like what you’ve read here? Please visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn


September 18, 2015 · 1:11 pm