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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Misty of Sunset Stables

By Vicki E. Jones

My father grew up with a deep fear of horses even though there was no reason for it. So in early 1952 - when I was about five years old – he decided that the best way for me to grow up with no fear of horses was to start riding horses at a very young age.

He took me to Sunset Stables, a family-owned business then in Culver City, California and had me ride a pony or small horse that was led around a ring by a well-trained employee.

He took me there every week. Then, after about a year, my father decided it was time for me to go on a one-hour trail ride on a full-size horse. Rides were Western saddle and were led by the owner of the stables, Judene “Jude” Smith, who was an excellent instructor and who loved children.

I was six years old then, and my short legs couldn’t reach the stirrups. My legs were so short that I couldn’t grip the sides of the horse with my knees and thighs to ensure I would stay on. So while good form called for not holding on to the saddle horn, I held on for dear life!

I was assigned to a horse named Misty, a light-colored gelding of gentle disposition. He was considered a reliable mount for a very young, new rider.

The first part of our one-hour trail ride went well and my sense of balance was good whether we walked, trotted or did a canter – a smooth gait a bit slower than a gallop. Then, toward the end of the one-hour ride, Misty’s attitude changed.

Misty suddenly started bucking for no apparent reason. I went flying off over his head. Fortunately, I landed on a soft sandy area and was not injured. If we had gone a little further, I would have landed on some boulders and I could have been seriously injured or worse.

Unhurt, I got up and was told by Jude that I would have to ride Misty back to the stables. Fearful after having been bucked off, I reluctantly got back on Misty with some assistance and the horse acted like nothing had happened. We soon reached the stables.

A week later, my father took me back to Sunset Stables to go on another trail ride. I was afraid to ride Misty again because he had bucked me off and I asked for a different horse. My father immediately told me that he did not want me to be afraid of Misty and that I would have to ride the same horse again.

The ride went well and Misty did not display the sudden change in behavior of the week before. I decided I liked the horse.

In the years that followed, I went riding every week. I would usually ride Misty and I gained a lot of self-confidence in my ability to ride and control a horse. We eventually moved to another part of Los Angeles, not far from Hollywood, and a year or two later Sunset Stables moved to the Hollywood Hills, just a few miles from our home. Sunset Stables became Sunset Hollywood Stables.

Misty lived to a ripe old age. Sunset Hollywood Stables is still there today – now called Sunset Ranch Hollywood – and is still owned by the same family.

Looking back, I know my father did exactly the right thing when I was six years old and got bucked off a horse during my first trail ride: He made get right back on that same horse – Misty - the very next time I went riding rather than give in to my fear and I learned not to be afraid.

I grew up loving horses thanks to my father, Judene “Jude” Smith and a horse named Misty.


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Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

I had the same experience only at age 14 on a horse called Rusty. I was working on a ranch but had never ridden. I was given an old horse and told he was very gentle for our over-night ride. He was so old, on going down a bank of sand he fell and I went over his head and landed on a rock, was knocked out, but was told when I came to, I must again get on the horse and continue. That was the best medicine for I had to be in charge of Rusty not falling again. My attitude about my fall changed and I got so I rode many horses bareback.

You were very fortunate that there was no serious injury, Johna. And very brave. -Vicki

My family lived next door to Sunset stables & I hung out there from about 1953 until I got my drivers license in 1956. I remember one of the Smith girls riding roman at about 6 years old. As I recall, the Smiths lived directly across Playa St. from the stables. The hay rides, & trips to El Monte,..I loved that place.

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