Before my husband and I fulfilled a dream of opening a restaurant, I rarely traveled north on Hawthorne Boulevard from my home in Redondo Beach — unless I was headed to the spectacular Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes for a night out, party, or wedding. (By the way, if you’ve never been to Terranea, it’s a must!) Every time I go to there I feel like I’ve been transported to the Mediterranean. Palos Verdes is simply stunning with its rolling hills and ocean views. But recently I discovered something completely new that I wasn’t aware of in this community.
Since we opened the restaurant last January, we found that one perk of the business is the people you get to meet. Our guests at Lou’s on the Hill are truly eclectic — whether young, old, neighbors, or travelers. Our “locals” range from families who live there for the great schools, to those who own vineyards, farms, and ranches. So imagine my NYC sensibilities being challenged, as groups of women showed up for early dinners, nattily dressed at first glance. Yet, upon further examination, to my dismay I noticed beautiful high leather boots and bespoke cut blazers — but the boots were always muddied, and the ladies’ manicures beat up by God knows what. That was my first impression of the very prominent “horsey crowd” from up on the nearby hill. I loved the confidence these women exuded, as well as their unique jewelry — particularly various horse-bits in every size and style. I thought I would fit right in with them since I often wear my Gucci riding boots and horse-bit earrings. Honestly (other than falling in love like the rest of America with American Pharoah, the first Triple Crown winner in 30-plus years), horses were beautiful but frightening to me. Not to these women — their love for horses is unconditional!
My curiosity grew with each visit from my newfound horsey friends. I loved the equestrian high-style mixed with getting-down-and-dirty. The culture I began to discover, traveling behind the fences of the farms and stables in this area, was magical. Horses are a messy business, but these ladies are happy to work in the barns cleaning and caring for them. After all, these horses are part of their family. And they take great care of them — depending on the individual family, and how much they want the barn to look like an extension of their upscale homes. Let’s face it, some of these horses live in style! Their stables are often adorned with wood-plank flooring, sofas, and swanky chandeliers.
As my friendships have grown with the “horsey people” (which is what they call themselves), I learned that the majority of these families all grew up riding, training, and/or showing horses. This lifestyle is in their heritage and their blood, passed on to each generation like a china set from your great grandmother. Their children continue to train and ride in their backyards and throughout the myriad trails of PV (short for Palos Verdes).
There are many different equestrian disciplines — from dressage, hunter, jumper, and much more. The horses are carefully bred and often trained by professionals for each style of riding. The clothes riders wear are a big part of the discipline. Hunter, for example, is very strict and classic, allowing only navy and tan pants. Jumper is my personal favorite because you can wear lots of things. This is where it gets fun for me. I love fashion and now I love horsey fashion: the boots, riding pants, hats, jackets. And you even get to carry a crop (whip) — fabulous!
When I began styling for a featured shoot. Amanda, the owner of Gee-Gee Equine (the IT store for all horsey clothes, accessories, stable accoutrements, etc.) was instrumental in showing me all I could take in. I found a ton of really cool accessories from boots, riding pants, jackets, belts to cool bracelets and necklaces — perfect for layering onto the fall animal-print theme (check out Chloe, Stella McCartney and more RTW for horsey prints). I would not hesitate to buy and wear any of these pieces without ever sitting on a horse!
The weather here is perfect for a trail ride followed by a relaxing picnic, which can include a lovely glass or two of wine. I’ll never forget my personal picnic: I stopped by Lou’s on the Hill and picked up some bruschetta with house-made ricotta and locally grown figs drizzled with fresh honey, paired with a glass of Bricco Quaglia Muscato (sipped in the Hunstman china and glass collection from Gee Gee). The salt and sweet were a perfect combination to cool down after a little horsing around. Next came a burrata-and-tomato salad dressed with olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar, paired with the buttery Jamieson Ranch Light Horse Chardonnay. I enjoyed my surroundings as I sat on a comfy dressage mat and savored this hidden treasure that is practically in my backyard (in L.A. that means at least 20 minutes away).
So, are you ready to visit Gee Gee to get styled, hop on a horse and see the panoramic views from Palos Verdes? Here are some useful links to places in PV you can take lessons, have a kids birthday party or just take a 2 hour trail ride…
Peter Weber Equestrian Center is a great place if you have kids. They provide birthday parties, pony rides, summer and winter camps, petting zoo. They have 150 horses and about 10 acres of walking and riding trails for all to enjoy.
Wagon Wheel Ranch offers 1 to 2 hour trail rides for ages 8 and older for $75 an hour. They also offer birthday parties and camps.
Portuguese Bend Riding Club offers lessons, training, boarding and leasing.
Cowboy Boot Camp if you want to be a cowboy you can learn here! They offer a daily cowboy boot camp and clinics for adults that hope to own a horse one day. You can learn everything from caring to your horse to riding. They also offer daily trail rides for $50 an hour for those 12 or older (reservation recommended).
For more information please visit the Palos Verdes Peninsula Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center.