Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Alisal 2016

Last Wednesday morning as Brett and I made the six hour drive to Alisal, we talked about how green it was going to be there; we wondered if the lake would be back to normal levels and how much water would be in the stream that winds its way through the ranch.  Afterall, we've had a pretty wet winter.  The snow pack was at 130% in January and rainfall is at normal levels.  Sure, February was warm and dry but our rainfall stands at just over 30 inches since last October.

Alisal is located in Southern California, inland from Santa Barbara and about two hours north of Los Angeles.  When we arrived, the ranch was quiet -- which is exactly why we chose mid-week in February to go.  It was also very warm, about 84F, and dry.  The stream was dry.  The lake level had dropped even further.  They are afraid it might dry up completely.  Rainfall on the ranch is only 6 inches.  El Nino has been a bust for Southern California.
All photos in this post are from Ana.
We had a wonderful time, of course.  The grass was short but it was green.  The cattle, young steers, were adorable and everywhere we rode.  They dotted the hills and blocked the trails and tried to join our rides.  We ate too much food -- even though we rode every morning and every afternoon, we gained weight.

Kyle, Camille and Ana arrived on Friday and stayed through the weekend.

Camille rode with Brett and I on the advanced rides.  We do a mix of loping, trotting and walking on the advanced rides, cutting across pastures, climbing the hills and going as far as we can.  I rode four different horses, all new to the ranch, while we were there.  When horses arrive, they are assigned to a wrangler who spends three months to a year (depending on the horse) getting them used to cattle, and gates, and riding in line, and all the wildlife.  The first horse I rode was looking for a reason to be naughty and buck.  I doubt he will be there when we return next year.  The other three horses were compact, fun rides.  Brett spent his time on one horse, a 17h grey, who was also new to the ranch.  He was a bit impatient but Brett got along with him fine.  I think he has a 50/50 chance of staying.  The big horses are purchased for big riders; often men who have little to no riding experience.
Ana and Camille

Kyle and Ana went on the intermediate rides.  Ana has ridden before but not in quite a few years and she wasn't ready to go loping through herds of cattle.  Smart girl.  Confidence is everything.  She did ride, every ride, and fit right into our Alisal routine (which is all about food and riding).
Ana and Kyle

We got back home late Sunday night.  The weather was dry in our absence. They keep promising us a wet March.  Fingers crossed.


  1. Sad about the water levels. Tragic, actually. But it sounds like it was an amazing vacation and worth the calories!!

  2. Sounds like a cool trip. Shame about the water. It's been so dry here that the pond in our park hasn't filled in. It hasn't been full for years now.

  3. what a beautiful place. It sounds like a lot of fun to me.

  4. How fun! Never in a million years would my parents ever have thought of going somewhere wonderful like that!

  5. A food and riding get-away. Perfect for you guys! I bet it was fun to ride other horses. The green grass and lack of wind would be my favorite part.


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