Las Caballeras is a group of horsewomen that gather together every fall for a 6-day vacation with their horses on beautiful Catalina Island.
On our first ride in 1995, there were only 26 riders. We now average 50 riders. Most riders bring their own horses. However, a few of our riders reserve rental horses, which are brought over for the ride.
Riders drop off their horses at Ernie Howlett Park in Rolling Hills Estates on the Palos Verdes Peninsula the day preceding the ride. Before dawn the following morning, the horses are loaded into trailers and driven to Wilmington, where the trailers are loaded onto a barge, along with all the equipment and supplies needed for the ride.
The barge trip to the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies at the Isthmus on Catalina island takes approximately four hours. Barge trips are scheduled during calm seas, and timed so that the barge arrives on the island during high tide.
Meanwhile, riders board the Catalina Express in San Pedro where they take the hour long boat trip to Two Harbors. Once on the island, they grab a bite at Doug's Harbor Reef Restaurant and sip "Buffalo Milks" while waiting for their horses.
When the barge arrives, horse vans and equipment are trailered to Little Harbor where wranglers put the horses on picket lines and unload all the gear. The girls board vans bound for Little Harbor to set up camp, re-kindle old friendships, and meet the new FYGs (First Year Guests). The horses are fed and watered and settle in where they are cared for by our wranglers and ride veterinarian.
Once settled in camp that evening, the girls enjoy hot showers, cocktails and appetizers, and the wonderful sounds of Catalina's Country Western band "Hot Off the Range," followed by a delicious catered meal.
After breakfast the following morning, riders saddle up and ride. Riders are given several choices based on the physical condition of the individual horse and rider. Rides vary from two hours to an all-day ride by way of Catalina's "Airport in the Sky," where riders stop to shop and grab a bite before heading back to base camp.
The following days are filled with fun! There are trail rides, Fun Day, the Cowgirl Challenge, the "No Talent" Talent Show, Steamy Novel Night, a silent auction and Blackjack Camp.
In 2003, Blackjack Camp was added to the ride itinerary. At almost 2000 ft. elevation, Blackjack Mountain is one of the highest points on the island. The campground is located 300 ft. below the summit, and is surrounded by pine trees. This option is for riders that like to sleep under the stars...no cots or tents here!
Bosque del is located in Cottonwood Canyon, about an hour's ride from base camp. On the ride to Bosque del, riders ascend the hills out of Little Harbor where they have an impressive view of the ocean and the back side of the island. The ride into Cottonwood usually passes herds of bison, winds through towering eucalyptus trees, and descends down into the willows of the riverbed, finally ending up under the oaks, sycamores and cottonwood trees that surround the old Bosque del picnic area. Here wranglers set up picket lines under the trees, and watch over the horses while the ladies enjoy a leisurely lunch.
Las Caballeras gives awards for just about everything. We give awards to riders who fall off their horses. We give awards for attending the ride for 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. We give trail class awards, and awards for the Cowgirl Challenge and Fun Day events…and we present our famous “George Award.” This is our most coveted award and was created by Las Caballeras member, Karen Guriel, in honor of her beloved horse, George. This award is presented to the owner of the horse that best represents George. Karen describes her George as “not the perfect horse, but the perfect combination of trust, talent and heart, with personality, quirks and spirit that made him my perfect horse.” Everything is based on having fun, and that's what Las Caballeras does best!
Saturday is our "Free Day." Many of the riders take their horses down to the water for a swim or a ride on the beach. Some go on trail rides, while others hang around camp and have massages or pedicures.
Our massage therapists offer massage packages, facials and scalp treatments to help refresh the girls and get them moving again after a long day in the saddle. Our manicurist repairs our broken nails and gives us relaxing pedicures when our toes are screaming after being stuffed into riding boots all day. Yes, even cowgirls can be princesses.
Before long, Sunday arrives. The girls eat breakfast early, break camp and saddle up for the ride back to Two Harbors amid comments, "It went by too fast, I can hardly wait until next year."
See Upcoming Events page for information on future rides.