As many of you know… Hubby and I have been trying to move down to the Paso Robles/San Luis Obispo, CA area for a while now.  Hubby works down there and either he or I drive the 5 hours (one way) to meet up each weekend.

Well, over this time of house hunting, I’ve met a few people in the area and managed to get onto an email list for The Work Ranch.

The below mailer came to my inbox.   Hmmm.  This might be a good way to meet some local  horse people while donating to a horse charity – double bonus!  So, I made the decision to drive down to Paso Robles on Valentine’s Weekend!

This was the flyer for the Benefit Ride. I thought it might be a great way to network and get to know riders in my, hopefully, new town!

This was the flyer for the Benefit Ride. I thought it might be a great way to network and get to know riders in my, hopefully, new town!


First, I called the Work Ranch to see if they had a horse for me to ride.  They didn’t.  So, I figured it was an omen and that I should really spend Valentine’s Day with Hubby and forget about riding.

But then I received an email just this last week saying there had been a cancellation and now a horse was available.

Yee-Haw!  I immediately called Hubby to check in and he was totally fine with it.  So, I moved things around on my schedule and made plans to go on the Valentine’s Day Benefit Ride!

The Work Ranch is a managed grazing natural cattle ranch (you know I love this method...) and they have a well trained ranch horses available to see this lovely setting.

The Work Ranch is a managed grazing natural cattle ranch (you know I love this method…) and they have well trained ranch horses available to ride through this lovely setting.


I was really excited… You know how you get when you haven’t been to a place and you want to make sure you aren’t late and don’t forget anything…?  That was me.  Checking and rechecking.

I guessed (incorrectly, it turned out) that I’d be the only person in jods and a helmet.  I also knew that my gear wouldn’t really match the style of the ranch horse I was given… but so far, I’ve never met a horse who cared what I was wearing so I figured we would be good.  No worries.

Personally, I love ranch horses.  They are trained better than any of the riding horses I have now (I’m being totally honest with myself here) AND, they know the terrain.

As an aside, I have learned to always rent ranch horses on heavily attended trail rides.  It has been my experience that when people bring their own horses to big trail rides, their own horses act very differently than they do at home… I think you all know what I mean.  So, you have this big contingency of antsypantsy horses riling up all of the other horses and eventually, there is mayhem.  Mayhem, horses and me don’t mix very well…

Once, during this exact kind of mayhem, I was on a ranch horse.  I was the only one on a ranch  horse.  All the other people were stressing and blowing neck arteries, and I was fine.  My horse was as cool as a cucumber.  And from that day forward, I have always asked for a ranch horse on big ranch rides.  It just makes sense to me.

Anyway, I was excited, to say the least!  I really wanted to ride in the hills of the Central CA range, take in the sights, feel the history and relax – on a calm horse.

This is the view from my car driving up Hog Canyon. Gentle rolling hills and oak trees. My favorite! I have my saddle, just in case they let me use it!

This is the view from my car driving up Hog Canyon to The Work Ranch. Gentle rolling hills and oak trees. My favorite! I have my saddle, just in case they let me use it!


I had driven past the ‘Work Ranch’ sign on several of our house hunting expeditions.  It is up Hog Canyon – fun name, huh?!  Anyway, Hog Canyon is very beautiful.  The roads are windy with rolling hills and oaks.  My favorite.

But, I had never actually been to the ranch.

When I arrived, I knew the ride would  be good.  I was a half an hour early, and every thing was already in place, all the horses were ready to go and the truck parking people, registration people and vendors were all set and ready.  All very good signs.

I arrived early yet every thing was ready, all the horses were set, parkers, vendors, registration ladies... it was all ready. Nice.

I arrived early yet everything was ready, all the horses were set, trailer parkers, vendors, registration ladies… it was all ready. Nice.

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While the riders were arriving (mostly with their own horses in trailers), I walked around and observed.


I was given a 20 year-old mustang named, Hank.  I was totally fine with that.  I figured he had been there, done that… and he was exactly what I wanted.  Besides, he was short.  I am short.  We fit.  PS:  Bonus… they let me use my saddle!

I forgot to take Hank’s photo (Sorry, Hank, my bad)!  Once it was time to go, it all happened fast.  Everyone mounted and entered the HUGE arena (did I say, HUGE?!.. It is H-U-G-E.).  There were 35+ horses in the arena and I didn’t feel any of them.  Wow.  I swear someone landed a plane while we were in there but I couldn’t be certain.

Anyway, they made an announcement that there would be two rides: One in the hills and one on the flats.  We could choose.  So, I waiting to see which ride had the most people, and then went on the other one.  Hank and I ended up on the flats with only 5 other riders.  Very Nice!

(Time lapse relayed in the photos below.)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay after the ride for the lunch portion because I had to drive back to Grass Valley.  But, I had a swell time garnering information about the area and meeting a few very gracious people.   Exactly what the Doctor ordered.

Loved it.

i realized after I was on, that I hadn't taken a photo of Hank the Mustang. So, here we are.

i realized after I was on, that I hadn’t taken a photo of Hank the Mustang. So, here we are.


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OK, now notice how I am holding back here… There were two rides going out. One ride was ‘up in the hills’ and the one on the flats. I waited to see which ride had the least amount of people before deciding. As you can see here, the first ride ‘in the hills’ had just about everyone… So, that made my decision for me. Hank and I were going on the flats. (I don’t like crowds much.)

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Here we are, bringing up the rear… but it was lovely. We rode along the grass crop to start. There was a Haflinger, a Missouri Fox Trotter and a ranch horse ridden by Mattie Work, sweet daughter of the hostess of the ride. She was our guide.

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This is all of us on the ‘flat’ ride. Phew! Bliss! To my left was a Dad who had brought his daughter on this ride for Valentine’s Day. Ahhh. So sweet! A great memory.

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Here Hank and I have picked up the pace a little. I love riding on rolling hills dotted with big oak trees.

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Dad and daughter … so sweet.  (Every time I took out my camera, Hank frowned.  Look at his ears.)


This wasn’t even all of us… I can remember about 7 horses outside the arena still. Good photo, eh?! Usually I try to wave but I guess this time I just sat there. So, I put in an arrow so you could find me. I’m wearing white with red pants, Hank is wearing Roan.  (photo credit:  Mattie Work)


FEBRUARY BUCKET FUND HORSES!  WILLOW AND TOM who were living in filth, covered in ticks and given only rotting vegetables and fruit to eat!  Click here!

Our February Bucket Fund horses were starved, living in knee high muck, covered in ticks and only given rotten fruit and vegetables to eat! Click image to read their story and donate! THANK YOU!

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3 comments have been posted...

  1. dawndi Post author

    I don’t know if they board with trails… but they might know who does. Send them an email and find out!
    I am too new to the area to be of much help! Network!

  2. Sara

    I am supposed to get a job transfer to that area this coming summer. Wondering if the Work Ranch is just dude ranch or if they do boarding? I would never be able to afford to buy an equestrian property in that area, I’ve been looking at the listings for even teentsy acreages with modest homes and suffice to say – no wonder even someone with a two-income family cannot afford anything. Takes my breath away! So now I’m looking at boarding where there are trails. It’s hard to select a spot just looking on the internet, because you don’t really know how they actually care for boarded horses, good bad or indifferent – could be the whole spectrum. Just wondering if you or anyone who posts here from that area has first-hand knowledge. Thanks

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