A sanctuary exists in the heart of Pacific Palisades apart from the daily reality of life in Los Angeles. Like an oasis, Will Rogers State Historic Park is a serene catharsis to remind us that there is another world out there bigger than we are. When it seems as if life comes between traffic jams and destination points, there is a sliver of serenity right here in our own backyard.
But for Brad Langenberg, Will Rogers Park is so much more.
Brad Langenberg is a Nebraska cowboy in Los Angeles. He is the real deal. From head to toes he is authentic, and for him, Will Rogers Park is home. Within the boundaries of this spiritual Mecca, Langenberg shares his expertise on horses, homespun anecdotes, and the serenity he derives from a life he has carved out being a cowboy in Los Angeles.
The 180-acre park is where actor and humanitarian Will Rogers hung his cowboy hat. Part of a much larger parcel of over 300 acres that extended from Beverly Hills to the ocean, it fell to his widow, Betty, when he died in a plane crash in 1935. After her death in 1944, the ranch was donated to the State of California for public use.
Today the ranch is used for activities ranging from jogging to polo matches. Trails connect to the Backbone trail continuous to Santa Barbara. It serves as the backdrop for Langenberg, who, like Will Rogers, is a true horseman. Rogers loved to ride and made the stables a focal point of ranch life. His trick riding was legendary and he was a master at polo. It seems only fitting that in his absence someone with horse sense should be sharing the life with LA urbanites. Langengerg is that man.
Within this un-urban compound, he works the horses of the rich and famous, training riders and horses alike. He refers to his famous clients by first name; y’all know who he’s talking â€˜bout. He spends hours going over every detail of their horsemanship. In the same day he may have a busload of school kids from East Los Angeles arrive at the ranch who have never seen a real live horse; he takes them on a tour and tells them all about this Separate Place. He shows them the music in his soul.
â€œMy father is the most honest man I ever met, â€œ said Langenberg. â€œAs far as integrity, I want to be like him. And for me, being around the outside of a horse will fix anything on the inside of a man.â€
Anyone can ride here, breach the crest of Inspiration Point and gaze out, as Will Rogers once did, upon the mountains and the ocean. This park is open to all and to keep it that way, the Will Rogers Ranch Foundation was created. And if someone wants to know where the money is going, Langenberg is only too happy to show you.
A ride through the ranch passes the homes of some of the most famous names in Hollywood. But around the bend the open space of Santa Monica Mountains reveals the true wealth of Los Angeles, the arroyo stretching to Topanga Canyon and Point Mugu beyond.
Brad Langenberg is available for rides at (310) 450-6627. To find out more about Will Rogers State Historic Park visit www.parks.ca.gov and the Will Rogers Ranch Foundation visit www.willrogersranchfoundation.org
The Backbone Trail is a project of the National Park Service, and to find out more visit www.california coastaltrail.org/resources/la/backbone.html