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Burb's Eye View: To live and ride horse in L.A.

September 04, 2012|By Bryan Mahoney

His name is “Poco,” but he seemed pretty big to me. And though he’s a quarter horse, I’m confident in saying he’s 100% horse.

I met Poco at Renee Baker’s stables at the L.A. Equestrian Center, a place always right down the street; but until last week, I never ventured very far under its single white arch. The 72-acre property beyond sprawls like a little mini-city at the junction of Burbank, Glendale and L.A.

This horse-lover’s dream city has its own shopping district, public works (especially street sweeping), and grocery for the 500 residents that live here. Like any city, it’s always bustling, always moving, with things to do and people to see. And Saturday, Poco and I were going to travel its perimeter and bring this suburban boy a little closer to country life.

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Baker, who lives in Glendale, runs a Western-style training school, and like most folks at the equestrian center, she’s been around horses her whole life. She learned early on from her father that the trick to training horses and riders is patience.

“I train show horses and people,” she said. “The horses are the easy part.”

It helps to match the personalities of the horse and rider, she said. Poco’s a really easy-going Appaloosa — an older horse who’s very much into hanging out, taking naps and eating cookies.

Oh, yeah. We’ll get along just fine.

I’ve watched enough Westerns to get the right swing of the leg over Poco’s back. The cheater’s block I’m stepping on also helps.

With the reins in my hand, we’re soon off, walking along a sandy trail that’s dangerously uneven if the horse goes much faster.

The pace is fine with me and Poco. We seem to be of the same opinion of the view of the nearby L.A. River — not much to look at usually, but on a clear day spent outdoors, the sun gives it just the right sheen to convince you it’s more than a drainage ditch.

Baker tells me it takes about five years to train a good trail horse and make him responsive to the reins and voice commands. The equestrian center has a few such horses in a rental area, where you can ride for an afternoon along the trails in Griffith Park.

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