By Nancy Chuda Editor in Chief of LuxEcoLiving and co-founder of Healthy Child Healthy World

Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum and Carriage House

Doug Cox Custom SaddleLuxEcoLiving Custom Saddle by Doug Cox

“Out where the world is in the making,

Where fewer hearts in despair are aching,

That’s where the West begins.”

Arthur Chapman

What the present generation doesn’t know and may never understand is the word patience. It’s becoming a relic characteristic. Fast forward to the technological age where cell phones, apps, and social media put most ahead of their peers… or so they think, or spin back to a time in the West where co-dependency was a four-legged word. Horse.

We are losing sight of a tradition and way of life that brought not only the spirit of the American West but the art, and the people that comprised a culture which embedded a time honored tradition… that some say is relished and craved today.


One such place that celebrates the rich history is the landmark Santa Ynez Historical Museum and Carriage House. Chris Bashforth Director of the Museum shares great enthusiasm. “The Parks-Janeway Carriage House was built on the museum property in 1978 by the generosity of two dynamic women – Mrs. Betty Parks and Mrs. Elizabeth Bixby Janeway. The Carriage House was dedicated to the memory of both women’s husbands, Tom Parks and Ed Janeway.”

carriage3 wheel“When built over 30 years ago, Mrs. Parks and Mrs. Janeway had a vision that the Parks-Janeway Carriage House would not only be home to their own collection of carriages but also a place where other horse drawn vehicles, exquisite saddles and vintage horse gear could be preserved and displayed for the public’s enjoyment.”

The carriages and memorabilia on display in the Carriage House hail from the famed John J. Mitchell collection; from Los Adobes de los Rancheros, and from the Janeway-Bixby

This year marks their 30th year in hosting artisans whose passion and patience yield remarkable works of arts; hand tooled saddles, custom made bridles and bits, spurs, hats, leather chaps, boots, jewelry, baskets, and vintage western wear.


Amidst an array of of authentic carriages, some dating back to the Gold Rush, the western culture comes alive.

But the tradition has sustained thanks to the devotion and perseverance of Bill Reynolds, publisher of The Journal of the American West, Ranch & Reata.


The Keeper of the Flame- Bill Reynolds Rick and Bill

Rick Laymen and Bill Reynolds LuxEcoLiving

Most people who have had the experience of  being roasted will tell you that the pain is endurable only if the person doing the honors captivates the audience’s attention with an appreciation and deep respect for fabric of the life and the gifts he or she has bestowed upon the world. In this case, Rick Laymen did the honors in sharing his heartfelt appreciation for The Man he considers the Keeper of the Flame…. Bill Reynolds.

“What Bill is, is an individual who has spent not only his adult life, but virtually his entire life stoking the flames of the fire that burns within everyone in this room.  That fire is the passion for the Western way of life and more specifically, the Vaquero lifestyle.  This, as we all know, goes beyond the appreciation of a well-trained horse that can work a herd seemingly without input from his rider.  It is more than having a knowledge of and an appreciation for fine, hand-crafted bits, reins and spurs. It does not confine itself to being able to ride for hours in a hand-crafted saddle that seems to have become an extension of yourself – the link between the cowboy and the horse, or delivering a well-formed loop into a milling herd and neatly heeling the calf you have chosen to brand next.   

 It includes having a depth of knowledge and appreciation for all things associated with the cowboy craft and being able and willing to impart this knowledge to others using a variety of media and includes the spoken word.”

As Layman described, ” Bill grew up with a head start along these lines.  Not only was he raised in California, which can’t be discounted, but his father, John, worked in the television industry and was the Executive Producer of several iconic television series, including “Rawhide”, “Have Gun, Will Travel”, and “Gunsmoke”.

 Bill was an advisor to Robert Redford in the filming of “The Horse Whisperer, and his publishing endeavors include the founding of Alamar Publishing, which focuses on publishing and distributing literary and video works of Western Lifestyle. He was founder of “Cowboys and Indians” magazine and later “The Cowboy Way” magazine.   This has subsequently grown into “Ranch and Reata” and has become the central publication of the Vaquero lifestyle.

Keeping the sounds of the old west alive can also be heard on Bill’s Ranch and Reata Radio station which has become an internet sensation.

And when you hear the Sons of the Pioneers echoing harmonies that bring back memories of the old west… the days of the spade bit man whose horse is light in the bridle and can spin and turn and slide… you can thank Bill Reynolds for keeping that flame alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here