Trail rides generally make me nervous. The horses are usually broken, non-thinkers and the guides know it, even if the riders don’t. At the Circle Bar B Ranch, this is not the case. Riding through the hills behind Santa Barbara, accompanied by only my guide, my family and our horses, I experienced the rare pleasures of a clever trail horse and a thoughtful cowboy. You don’t believe me, do you?
Our trail guide and thoughtful cowboy, Jonathan, didn’t jangle past in his spurs with a loud voice and a bad attitude. Instead he approached us, introduced himself and shook hands with everyone. He made kissy noises to his horse who nuzzled him affectionately. Jonathan then told us all about our own rides as though they were each his children and worthy of special mention. During the ride, he took special care with my daughter, who was extremely nervous. He did little riding activities with her; changing rein hands, standing in her stirrups, riding the horse like a motorbike, deliberately curving him from one track to another, until she felt in charge of her horse. He told her about how good horsemen don’t need to force their horses, they need to work with them, that it takes time for horse and human to get to know each other. He stopped on the trail to pick up a feather and put it in her hatband. Then he asked me if I knew about indigo children and if I didn’t think she might be one (forgive me for stereotyping but, not a topic I’d anticipated from a cowboy). All in all, he was the perfect guide.
As if that wasn’t enough, the views were spectacular. At a height of four thousand feet, the air cools though the sun brightens, and a rider can see clear from the top of a mountain out to the Channel Islands. There was wildlife everywhere, from quails to bobcats to soaring turkey buzzards and curious squirrels.
So, if you’re like me and love a place where you can enjoy some activities alongside your kids, let me recommend a stay at the Circle Bar B Ranch. Kids are so welcome at the Circle Bar B, that the farrier will even put them to work pulling nails from old horse shoes while you have a sleep-in. There are dogs and cats just looking to play with someone, especially kids, and all the staff seem to be enjoying the sweetness of life in the cool hills of Santa Barbara. All in all, whether it’s after a busy work life or a hectic holiday, the Circle Bar B Ranch is a great place to take your shoes off and sit a while. When you’re done, you’ll leave to the sound of people calling, “Y’all come back now, y’ hear?”
I reckon I will.