THE DOG DAYS of summer are here. It’s the perfect time to watch
“Seabiscuit” in an air-conditioned theater near you.
I cried a muck bucket of tears when I saw it last week, but I’m betting
attendance will be up when Golden Gate Fields runs its fall horse races.
I’m also betting you’ll like the interview I did this week with Petaluma
horse trainer Steven Haines.
Modest as the day is long, Haines doesn’t see himself as a horse
whisperer, or even a horseman. “I’m not there yet,” he says, saying that
deep spiritual connection between human and horse goes beyond the
physical and mental.
“It’s such an elusive thing. I see a real similarity between
horsemanship and martial arts,” Haines says. “It’s how you are with life
— how honest you are in expressing yourself.”
Haines is holding monthly horsemanship clinics at Oakland’s Anthony
Chabot Stables on Skyline at Keller. For some people, just watching him
work is therapy.
“I’m of the opinion that horses have more to offer humans than humans
have to offer the horse. They’re very forgiving and they offer love
without conditions,” he says.
But reading a horse’s signals takes time and patience. Haines picks up
clues in the animal’s eyes, ears and body language. He can tell whether
the horse is relaxed or troubled or in pain. He adjusts his response
accordingly — building friendship and trust with a steed — like the
trainer in “Sea Biscuit”.
“I haven’t seen the movie,” Haines says, “but from what I know, that guy
was a horseman.”
If you have a horse you’d like Haines to work with, call clinic
organizer B.K. Doyra at 510-339-3217. The clinic cost is $60 an hour
(for horse and rider), or $10 if you just want to watch and learn some
honest communication techniques. Sounds like good horse sense to me.
Speaking of horses, my piece on Big Sky, Mont., was a big hit with
reader Albert Chiu. He writes: “I too came home to Oakland from Helena a
week ago Saturday night and had a culture shock after spending 18 days
in Montana.” He says he found folks there had a slower pace of life and
weren’t “into making lots of money like people here in the Bay Area.”
A note to Albert: I agree with you, but it doesn’t help that we have
record gas and home prices here.
It’s a bird…
If God wanted us to fly, he would’ve given us wings. But apparently,
that notion doesn’t hold water with the guys at the Berkeley Hang
The center charges a sky-high fee — $275 — and gets it, for a
2,000-foot drop off Mount Tamalpais and down to the shores of Stinson
Beach. All the while, you’re piggyback with the pilot, riding air
pockets in a harness with wings.
From liftoff to landing — the dips, turns and gorgeous scenery (if you
can keep your eyes open) lasts about 15 minutes. Air-sickness bag not
included. Call 510-528-2300 to face your mid-life crisis head on.
Call this guy “Mr. Clean.” Reader Nicholas Vigilante has come forward as
the man who donated the sidewalk pressure cleaner to the Montclair
Nick says he bought the machine to clean the siding on his house before
repainting — and never used it again. Seeing the grime on the sidewalks
in Montclair, he decided to donate the powerful pressure cleaner to the
merchants. As head of the Montclair Safety and Improvement Council, he
says there are a number of residents who want to help the MVA spruce
As Friends of Montclair Village works to get a drive-by mail box in the
Village, at least one reader remembers a similar effort many years ago.
Nancy G. says she never understood why parents put the kibosh on a
drive-by box in the little parking lot above Montclair Elementary School
(Mountain near Colton).
“I still think it’s perfect — even if the kids have to watch what is
going on around them for a change,” the senior resident writes. She adds
that any child who’s too young to know traffic safety is probably driven
to school in the first place.
Bad is good
Heard of the movie “Three Men and a Baby”? Well, this is three guys and
Local actor Tim Orr and two other artists make up the theater group
“Three for All,” opening at San Francisco’s Bayfront Theater on Sept. 5.
They aren’t called the bad boys of improvisation for nothing. Given
nothing but a situation, these guys create a full-length comedy, night
after night. The best part is that profits from their opening night
performance go to a Berkeley-based sports program for wheelchair-bound
kids. For information, call 415-474-8935.