Ronald Reagan the Cowboy

Ronald Reagan, Rancho del Cielo, horseback riding
Truth be told, President Reagan hated flying. One time he was heard talking to a staff member regarding some upcoming travel and said, “the highest I want to go is on the saddle of a horse.”

There’s something to be said about seeing the world from the back of a horse. It gives us a different perspective of the world. After touring the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, I learned that President Reagan started his formative riding years in a cavalry saddle.

After the Ride, Ronald Reagan, Glenna Goodacre
After the Ride by Glenna Goodacre. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

It was when Reagan became California’s governor that he and wife Nancy purchased Rancho del Cielo, “Ranch in the Heaven” in Santa Barbara. Early on, Nancy learned that if she wanted a relationship with Ronnie, she’d need to trade in her tennis racket for a saddle. Does this tune sound familiar to any of you horse lovers?

There’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.” Ronald Reagan

He found relaxation when he spent time surrounded by nature and horses. Like any true equestrian, he wanted to share his love of horses and cajoled members of his staff to learn to ride. He also enjoyed horseback riding with other dignitaries during his travels.

Nancy D. Brown, Ronald Reagan, horseback riding
Equine Writer Nancy D. Brown horseback riding with Ronald Reagan.

I didn’t get a chance to go on a horseback riding vacation with President Reagan, but I was able to take my picture riding a buckskin horse in a Western saddle during a tour at the Presidential Library!

Ronald Reagan, Reagan Country
Reagan Country bronze. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

While Ronald Reagan has worn many hats in his day as a Hollywood actor, governor and eventually president of the United States, he will always be remembered by me as an equestrian and a cowboy. During his time in politics, many people gifted President Reagan with saddles and belt buckles, many of which are on display at the library. Additionally, he has had several bronze statues and busts created, capturing his cowboy side of life. How do you remember Ronald Reagan?

saddles, Ronald Reagan,
Ronald Reagan’s saddles. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Insider tip:
If you want to learn more of Ronald Reagan’s equestrian connection, you might enjoy the book Riding with Reagan, written by former Secret Service agent John Barletta.

For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter, @ridinghorseback, and @VisitConejo.

Ronald Reagan, Jose Lopez Portillo
Reagan riding with Mexico’s Jose Lopez Portillo.

If You Go:
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (805) 522-2977
40 Presidential Drive
Simi Valley, California 93065

Article by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Conejo Valley, however, all opinions are my own.