I'm probably about 13 in the photo below. When we moved to CA in 1997 I was delighted to discover our neighbor had a ranch. More importantly than that, he had an old grey Arab mare of uncertain descent, with an undeniable hay belly and the somewhat fitting name "Pretty Lady," which rolled out of the even older rancher's mouth in just such a way as I'll never forget. I had a very special relationship with that old guy, "Jake" as we knew him, of Jacob's Ranch Road. He and I drove to the local inn and picked up the compost scraps from the inn to feed his livestock regularly, "fixed" fence with baling twine, and took in the inevitable death of the many inbred ranch cats with laconic monosyllables. He discovered somehow early on that peaches were my favorite fruit and every day after chores we'd head for the cool old ranch house, which was ancient and full of old newspaper clippings, photos, book, bits of old tack and who knows what. Jake would pop open two cans of peach halves and we'd sit at the table and savor our treat, sometimes sharing stories but often just sitting in peaceful silence. He called me "Young Lady." That makes me smile right now, typing it.
When I wasn't with Jake himself, I was out in his pastures messing with his horse. Pretty Lady and I did all sort of silly things, like racing airplanes taking off at the county airport, which prompted a concerned letter to the editor in the local rag. We trotted for miles on logging roads along the river, and rode to our buddies house and convinced her to come out on her horse sometimes too. It felt special, I felt special, and this horse was special.
I simply can't encapsulate all that those young years with Jake and Pretty Lady meant to me here, but here's a little start.