I was met at LAX by an old buddy from Australia who works in the film industry (of course). John whisked me up the road in the truck (2.5 hours north in to the Sierras) to check out his cow ponies. He seems to think that polo ponies are a silly passing phase for me so was keen to show off real horse skills. I watched with great interest as he trained one of his horses with Russell Dilday, who was twice named Horseman of the Year, Russell had a lazy easy way with him that was totally charming and there was no doubting his skill with the horses as well. John was working night shoots but quite happy to facilitate with my search for culture daytime and insisted we visit the Gene Autry Museum to which I acceded with some doubt. What a great museum! Add it to your list of things to do in LA, their exhibition on How Women made the West was enthralling, informative and very hands on. Cudos to the designer who used corn husks and tin cans as wall enhancements and hand embroidery on hessian as signage. We ventured down into the Wild West area - lot of wonderful examples of spurs and saddles, you know, but really it was interesting as they have the best of the best there. I had always been told that LA was made up of small villages and this time I saw first hand the Shadow Hills area - specifically this is a horse suburb where standard house blocks have horses living in their backyards and only 10 minutes to Burbank. The whole area is linked with bridle paths so the access to parklands and the public horse grounds is easy . I watched with amazement as a Hollywood style blacksmith arrived with a tinsel town truck to shoe the pampered pedigrees. Then off to the Getty Museum, with its severe architecture and throngs of interested folk wandering the exhibits. We were entranced to see the Florentine drawings and wanted more of the extaordinary documentary photographic exhibition and the spectacular art of Gerome, quite a day. But there is nothing like stepping onto the late night Qantas flight home, ahhh. This is John's suburban tack room, somewhat of a collector! and my favourite photo from the Getty Sculpture Garden with the glowing bronze matching the sunlight glancing from the new shrub sprigs.