Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Around 11 or 12 years ago, a friend called me up and said she'd been taking some theatre combat lessons from a swordmaster she knew from the TV show she worked on and asked if I'd be interested in joining in. I did, along with about half a dozen other women, and I took class for about a year or two. It was great fun.

Our instructor, Anthony De Longis, is an actor and well-known fight coordinator in Hollywood. You can see his work in the terrific film Second Hand Lions and he coached Harrison Ford in bull whip for the upcoming Indiana Jones film. On Saturday, Tony, his wife, and several of his friends performed the arena show for the Hollywood Charity Horse Show, William Shatner's fundraiser for some therapeutic riding programs. So Len and our friends Gillian and Becky went to watch. Gillian's the one who introduced me to Anthony all those years ago.

It was a lot of fun. Bill Shatner's been doing the event for 18 years. Captain Kirk raised Saddlebreds for many years, but appears to be riding Quarterhorses these days. He came into the arena on one and did a little spin (video below) for the audience before turning to emceeing Anthony's show.

Tony and Mary did some fun things on horseback and then Tony and another rider did some lance work before moving on to a mounted sword-fighting exhibition (video below.) Not everything worked as planned, but the horses were generally well-behaved and the audience had a good time.

What really got to the audience was the demonstration by 6 year old rider, Piper. Piper has cerebral palsey and she did some amazing things on the horse she rode, including standing up and laying back and hanging over both sides of the horse. I've always been touched by what a horse can do for those who cannot function on their own legs, from the first time I photographed a handicapped riding program in Rock Creek Park almost 30 years ago. It is amazing.

We didn't have tickets for the dinner and Randy Travis concert, so we stuck around to watch some of the finals of the amateur reining competition. Everyone was impressed by the horses who really built up a head of steam before doing their sliding stops. I know nothing about how the competition is scored, so I couldn't tell anyone whether a 70.0 was better than a 67.5 or not. I also had no clue as to what the ideal movements were in any of the cases. I personally was impressed by the horses who were able to keep their back pivot hoof firmly in the dirt as they spun around on their haunches. Someone will have to let me know if that's what should impress me.

We headed off to dinner at Viva Fresh, a Mexican restaurant just outside the L.A. Equestrian Center, and tried their famous Midori Margaritas. A friend who rides at LAEC said it is traditional to buy a newbie rider a pitcher of those Margaritas when they take their first spill and get back on the horse. A good tradition, but better to not fall off in the first place.

We were seated where we could see all of the string horses from Hollywood Sunset Ranch waiting for their riders to finish dinner to head back up the hills. I don't think riding while under the influence of alcohol is a really good idea, but the romance of that dinner ride is appealing. One of these days, I'd like to get a group of friends together to do it. It's $60, meal not included, but I had an excellent dinner for less than $25, including the $8.00 Margarita.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Liked the videos.I'm always amazed how wonderful the horses are to the less fortunate riders. You certainly have an interesting life, and always seem to be busy.

M. C. Valada said...

I like your phrase "less fortunate riders," Arlene.

We do tend to keep moving. To quote an old song, I believe in "make the most of living if your not prepared to die." That will come soon enough.

In many ways, I live the life I could only fantasize about when I was a child. I live where I can see the mountains from the ocean, where I don't have to drive in snow, and where my dinner guests have written some of my favorite books and movies. It's a good life, and living well is the best revenge for being tormented when you were in child.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I agree, living well is the best revenge. I'm glad I got the chance to do that too.