In July of 1997, I attended a horse clinic at Rancho Chahuchu, in Solvang, California. I had a personal invitation from the trainer, and was eager to learn more about horses.

The clinic was an all-day event featuring demonstrations on how to deal with problem horses. The attendance was low, about 20 people. As we settled down to our seats, I was surprised to find, among the attendees, a famous Hollywood star who had a keen interest in horses. She was accompanied by a friend, a distinguished lady who was visiting from Europe.

I was dressed properly for the occasion, with jeans, a western-style shirt, boots, a belt, and a cowboy hat which I had purchased recently, and we sat down to enjoy the experience.

I did not strike up a conversation with the movie star, but, given the low attendance, everybody's presence was apparent to everyone else. We moved around, trying not to miss any details. At times, I tried out my cowboy stroll, where you walk bowing your legs to show that you are a well seasoned horseman.

Toward the end of the day, our movie star broke the ice and approached me, pointedly, and said: "You are a true Mexican cowboy."

I smiled at the compliment, but could not help to think that she had missed it on all three counts: I was neither true, nor Mexican, nor a cowboy.



At Rancho Chahuchu, Solvang, California, July 1997

At Rancho Chahuchu, Solvang, California, July 1997.