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Our humble, local horse club, ETI Corral 357 — The Saddelback Canyon Riders, is a pivotal part of the equine lifestyle in Trabuco Canyon, CA. Many locals and area residents are part of the club which is fearlessly led by our President, Kristen Holden. For more information about ETI 357 and the amazing things we do for our community, rural lifestyle, and equine friends, please visit, (Read our Bylaws) You can also visit us on Facebook by going to, Become a member today!

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I bought a cowboy hat in Montana, but it wasn’t easy


I just got back from Montana, which is a state in the Rocky Mountains, in case you’ve never been there. They have about as many beef cattle as they do residents, based on my observation that we saw herds and herds of Angus beef on the hoof, and we seldom saw herds and herds of people anywhere, except in Bozeman.

When you do see people, they’re often wearing “cowboy hats,” which some of you may know from watching old movies. I bought myself a cowboy hat while I was there, but it wasn’t an easy decision.

See, my father actually was a cowboy. He had a cattle ranch in Colorado where he raised beef cattle for your future dining pleasure. When I was growing up, my dad was in the Air Force and then went back to the ranch afterward, so I was raised in two worlds that did not intersect. I wasn’t much into the cowboy culture in those days, but I did respect the cowboy hat, since it represents hard, sweaty work in the hot sun, rounding up cattle, baling hay, mending fences, filling water troughs, helping with the calving and driving tractors.

It’s a symbol of our country’s past and present out on the range, and modern cowboys still wear them every day with pride. Every rancher owns a straw hat for everyday use, and a fancier felt hat for special occasions. Over the years, I’d bought my dad two Stetson hats, which remain the pinnacle of cowboy headwear, and he wore them proudly to his meetings of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and the board meetings of the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.

These days, I live in the suburbs of a huge metropolitan area, and I’m a confirmed city dweller. I order soy lattes and eat sushi — two things that would have made my father snort with disdain.

That man could really snort his ridicule of

such things, including designer water, people who order their steaks well done and city folks who buy cowboy hats in some sort of goofy bid to look like cowboys. I often roll my eyes at claims of “cultural appropriation,” but seeing a New Yorker walk down the streets of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in a Stetson and a fur coat just makes me snort, in honor of my dad. Anyway, I digress. When I decided to go to Montana for my 65th birthday (yay, the Medicare one!) I went into the garage to look for my dad’s cowboy hats I’d inherited that had been carefully put away in their fancy Stetson boxes.

But, disaster! The mice had been in them and eaten the felt. Who knew that mice ate felt? It hurt my heart to chuck them, but what could I do? I found his straw hat, but it had been mashed in shipping. Unusable. I also found his spurs and his branding iron, but I didn’t think they’d let me bring those on the plane.

Then my dilemma became this: Could I ethically buy a cowboy hat to wear in Montana? Or would I then just become one of those goofy tourist poseurs?

I did not buy one before we got there, but then on our drive to the Chico Hot Springs resort near Yellowstone, I had my friend stop the car at a ranch supply store.

I went in and, as I expected, there was an entire section devoted to real, working cowboy hats for real, working cowboys and girls. These were not accessories. They were vital headgear.

A store clerk named Hayley came up and offered to help me. Poor girl. I told her my family had always disdained city people who bought cowboy hats for fun. She heartily agreed with my scorn. And heaped a little more of her own. But then, I forced her to listen to my entire ethical dilemma in regard to buying a cowboy hat. My only consolation was that the store wasn’t busy and she was on the clock. After I gushed out my entire spiel, I asked her the million-dollar question: Can I buy a cowboy hat?

“Yes, you can buy one,” Hayley told me.

So I did. It took rather a long time because, as I mentioned, they had a big section devoted to the subject. Then there was another entire section devoted just to cheaper tourist hats. But I finally found the perfect straw hat that fit my fat head and also has a string, so it won’t blow off in our ocean breezes. It cost $38.99 and I considered that a bargain. It will last a long time.

I wore it the entire time we were in Montana, which included having fun at the Chico Hot Springs resort, then visiting Yellowstone National Park.

I just got home and had lunch with my beautiful daughter, Curly Girl. I asked her if I could wear my cowboy hat to lunch. She said no. Emphatically. So now I need an excuse to wear it. Suggestions welcome.

Sunday, 06/27/2021   Page .C010Copyright (c)2021 Orange County Register, Edition 6/27/2021.