"Local Personalities"

Steve Draa, Horseman

by Maggie Van Ostrand

Due to his booming baritone voice, Steve agrees he's not a "Horse Whisperer," he's more of a "Horse Yeller."

Steve Draa (a Dutch name, pronounced Dray) has been managing the Pine Mountain Club Equestrian Center since 1996.

Before that, he earned his stripes by working at the Equestrian Center for several years as stable hand, stall mucker, cleaner and feeder of the horses, repairer of fences, pipe rails, wrangler on the then-extant trail rides, and "whatever needed doing." He refers to himself back in those days as being "full of muck."

1996 was a good year for Steve. Besides his promotion to manager, he married Tracy, PGA member and a golf pro at Pine Mountain Club for the last four years. Their honeymoon was a cruise to Ensenada, significant not for the reasons you might think, but because it was the last time he ever wore a tie. More on Steve's sartorial splendor later.

Steve and Tracy have two children, Elizabeth (6) and Jacob (5) who currently attend Frazier Park Elementary School and, in the summer, Bible School in PMC.

Toby, Steve's friendly dog (part Border Collie, part Australian Shepherd and part human), can often be seen loping along next to Steve on his rounds, and generally making himself useful.

Steve and assistant, Sheri Tynon, care for 47 horses who are boarded there full time. There's a waiting list: 10 horses for barns, nine for pipe corrals, and three for the pastures.

The oldest horse, Dutch, is 34 years of age. He's one of those lucky males who thins with age unlike people, who seem to thicken. He's too fragile to be ridden, but is much beloved by his owner who frequently visits, sees that Dutch is given a "pedicure" by a farrier every six weeks, and supplies special food. Dutch still bucks with pleasure when running (yes, running) in the corral.

Speaking of thin horses, Rudy, of whom many inquires are made by passers-by, had been based in the small corral by the golf course because he preferred eating the wood rails in the main pasture (called "cribbing," the equivalent to human nail biting) instead of his dinner. Talk about eating too much fiber! He was recently moved back to the pasture with his buddies, and is being given supplements to fatten him up. The pleased veterinarian reports Rudy is finally gaining weight.

Lucrative job offers as wrangler have come Steve's way from the movie industry but, due to the long periods of time he'd have to be away from his family and the horses, he always turns them down.

Steve and Tracy both do the cooking at home, and Steve's favorite meal is Chicken Divan. "Tracy cooks it and I heat it up," he grins. As he describes this dish, "chicken, broccoli, curry, mmmmmm...." his eyes get a faraway look of contentment. "I could eat that every day," he says.

Steve's hobby, aside from horseback riding, is downhill snow skiing which he does at Mammoth and Lake Tahoe with family and friends.

One of Steve's many friends asked for help in clearing his land in Lebec. While working, they came across what appeared to be old adobe road (or property) markers and took them to Old Ridge Route Antiques for authentication. They were indeed authentic and a part of this area's history. His buddy generously donated them to the Frazier Park Museum.

Now, about his clothes; he's rarely seen in other than dirty Levis or a pair of dusty Eddie Bauer jeans, which last about three months of strenuous wear. He claims his "dress-up" outfit is "jeans that have been washed." His necessarily sturdy footwear has to be replaced about every six months. "Horse urine tends to break down fine leather pretty fast," he says. There's that sly grin again.

Steve's favorite TV shows are Seinfeld reruns ("I could see 'em over and over and still laugh"), Curb Your Enthusiasm (Larry David co-created Seinfeld), Everybody Loves Raymond ("everything the husband does is so true") and, last but not least, Last Comic Standing, a summer phenomenon. His favorite new comic from that show is Gary Gulman, with a stand-up named Ant (who has frequently visited Pine Mountain Club) a close second.

His favorite movies are "Brave Heart," "Legends of the Fall," and "The Last Samurai," but it's not because he's a fan of Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise.

It's all those horses.

Reprinted by permisson of Maggie Van Ostrand

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