Ask The Right Questions In Order To Find The Best Vet For Your Horse

equine vet

Most horse owners consider their four-hooved friend a member of the family — a child if you will. Similar to choosing a pediatrician, selecting the right veterinarian for a horse is a process that should not be treated lightly.

Simply looking in the Yellow Pages or Googling “equine vet” is not enough of a vetting process. Not all veterinarians treat horses, and not all equine vets will be a natural fit for your and your horse.

Word-of-mouth investigation is more helpful. Ask for recommendations from others in the horse community, including horse owners at your boarding stable, barn or tack and feed store

After you make a list of possibilities, make an appointment with each prospective vet and engage him or her in an interview of sorts (there is nothing better than a face-to-face meeting to gauge whether or not a relationship will work). Inquire about education and training. Ask if they specialize in horses, or all large animals such as cattle or pigs. Equine specialists may have their own facilities for surgery and treatments, or they may rely on the referral of complicated cases to local referral hospitals.

Is the prospective vet familiar with the breed of horse you own and the circumstances surrounding the type of riding or discipline you follow.

Good personality and “bedside manner” are important, but should not be the only reasons to prefer one veterinarian over another. Some popular equine veterinarians may possess more charm than expertise. The American Association of Equine practitioners has a helpful website to assist you in locating a reputable vet that matches your particular needs in your local area.

Following is a short list of important qualities to look for in an equine vet:

1. Education/experience

It’s important to know where and when a veterinarian received his or her degree, and how much experience they have. Also, has he or she specialized in a particular field? Veterinarians must also participate in continuing education, so finding out if they are abreast of the latest treatments and technologies is vital. Also, what is their opinion about the rising field of holistic care for horses, or the use of natural supplements? You might consider chiropractic treatment, and finding out their level of expertise is essential.

2. Communication

Being able to explain options and the advantages and disadvantages of a particular treatment plan is crucial. Will your veterinarian understand your needs, explain exams or procedures step by step, outline costs, describe potential outcomes, and follow up and provide support? A vet should be able to use laymen’s terms and communicate in an understandable manner.

3. Availability

Solo practitioners may have a full schedule, and limited availability. If this is the case make sure you discuss the possibility of nighttime and weekend appointments. An important consideration is whether or not the vet makes barn calls. Transporting a sick or injured horse to a veterinary facility can be a difficult and even dangerous. Barn calls can save time and avoid possible additional injuries to horses and handlers. If a mobile veterinary clinic for large animal care is available in your area, it may be a good choice for quality, convenient, stress free care that benefits both the horse and the owner.

There is much to consider when choosing a veterinarian. Do your homework, ask the right questions and learn how to partner with a vet for the best health of your horse.


Turkey and olive oil make the perfect match — so kick your butter to the curb

holman olive oil

When planning a Thanksgiving feast, more and more cooks are crossing butter off their shopping lists in favor of extra virgin olive oil. EVOO is a more healthful alternative — one that enhances dishes with a pungent kick or more subtle fruity flavors.

Certainly the main attraction deserves a brush with oil. Savvy chefs have discovered that rubbing the turkey with olive oil mixed with dried herbs, salt, black pepper, and perhaps some crushed garlic, creates crispier skin, more aroma and overall a more tasty bird.

For the herbs, try a combination of dried sage and thyme — and don’t forget to apply it to the inner cavity. Then take it to the next level by upping the presentation, dressing the bird at the table with a robust olive oil. Just zigzag the fresh EVOO over the whole plate before the steam brings the sublime aromas wafting through the house.

In short, turkey meat loves extra virgin olive oil — but it’s useful in other preparations as well. So there’s no better time than now to get inspired by new ways to infuse a little olive oil into this year’s feast.

Tradition reigns at Thanksgiving, and there are likely a few untouchables — those dishes that have remained unchanged for generations. It’s probably not wise to mess with these, but certainly there’s room for a subtle twist.

An elevation of taste from a bland buttery base is one way olive oil really shines at the holiday table. It takes the expected holiday fare and enhances ingredients with a range of flavors and strengths. Where butter may disguise or dominate the natural accents of ingredients, olive oil accentuates and complements them in a way that is pleasantly unexpected.

Mashed potatoes are the perfect example of a Thanksgiving standard that traditionally relies on butter. But this year try substituting olive oil for the cream and butter. Find an olive oil that imparts a nice buttery flavor, not one with a lot of green notes.

Sweet potatoes and yams also benefit from a healthy splash of olive oil. Bake the potatoes, open the skins and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon, brown sugar or perhaps a Middle Eastern blend of thyme, sumac and roasted sesame seeds (called zaatar).

Olive oil is also a natural when paired with seasonal vegetables at Thanksgiving. Roast root vegetables and onions after liberally dousing them with olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Brussels sprouts or green beans also pair well with olive oil. Just par-boil the veggies (then slice the Brussels sprouts into quarters) and sauté each in a peppery EVOO. For green salads, try dressing with an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

For desserts, most people don’t think about using olive oil in their sweet baked goods. The flavor of a mild or light olive oil will not be detected and the fruitiness of it will complement the other flavors. 

 When making pumpkin bread, oatmeal cookies, cakes, or piecrust, substitute a mild olive oil for butter, and use about a quarter less than the amount of butter you would normally use. Or, if you’re a strict recipe follower, the Internet is chockfull of dessert recipes that incorporate olive oil — which makes cakes and breads irresistibly moist.

Taking advantage of the pungent kick or the fruity flavors of extra virgin olive oils is easy, and the possibilities are endless — especially during the holiday season. Kick the butter to the curb, and let the olive oil flow!


Thank The Ancient Romans For Our Wedding Cake Traditions

wedding cake

The modern wedding cake represents more than mere dessert for guests. The tradition dates back hundreds upon hundreds of years, before brides wore white and grooms kissed their beloved to conclude the ceremony.

Since the days of the Roman Empire, weddings always featured special cakes surrounded by custom and superstition. Ancient Roman ceremonies were finalized by breaking a cake of wheat or barley (called mustaceum) over the bride’s head as a symbol of good fortune. The newly married couple then ate a few crumbs in a custom known as confarreatio. Following the wedding, guests gathered up the bits of strewn cake as tokens of good luck.

When the Romans invaded Britain in A.D. 43, many of their customs and traditions became part of British custom. In medieval England, in an early form of wedding cake, small, spiced buns were stacked in a towering pile to test if the bride and groom were able to kiss over the tall stack. If so it predicted a lifetime of prosperity.

The earliest British recipe specifically noted for a wedding is Bride’s Pye, recorded by Robert May in the 1685 edition of “The Accomplisht Cook.” This was a large round pie with an elaborately decorated pastry crust that concealed a filling of oysters, sweetbreads, mincemeat, pine kernels and spices.

 In the 17th century, bride pie became bride cake, the predecessor of the modern wedding cake. Fruited cakes, as symbols of fertility and prosperity, gradually became the centerpieces for weddings. A bride cake was often offered to the bride upon arrival at her new home. After eating a small piece, the bride threw the remainder over her head to ensure that she and her new husband would want for nothing. The groom then threw the plate over his head. If it broke, the couple’s future happiness and good fortune were assured.

In another version of this tradition, a cake often welcomed a bride at a local inn, where she would arrive with her new husband for a celebration. Someone would cut the cake partially through. Then the groom would place a linen napkin over the bride’s head and break the cake over her. As the cake fell, the guests scrambled for their portions. As in ancient Roman times, a piece of the cake guaranteed an auspicious life.

 Other superstitions have long been connected with wedding cakes:

•  Sharing the cake with family and friends increased fertility and prosperity.

•  The bride who baked her own cake was due for some bad fortune.

•  A taste of the cake before the wedding meant the loss of the husband’s love (while a piece of cake kept after the big day ensured his fidelity).

•  The newlyweds were expected to cut the first slice together. And every guest was meant to eat a small piece to ensure that the happy couple was blessed with children.

At Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert in 1840, royal cooks used white icing to decorate her cake, and it quickly became known as “royal icing.” The multitiered cake (referred to as a “wedding cake” for the first time) measured more than 9 feet in circumference. On the second tier, supported by two pedestals, a sculpture of Britannia gazed upon the royal couple as they exchanged vows. A confectionary dog sat at their feet, symbolizing faithfulness, along with two turtledoves, symbolizing purity and innocence. There were also several sculpted cupids, including one happily writing the date of the wedding onto a tablet.

The first wedding cake most associated with cakes we know today graced the wedding of Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, in 1882. The prince’s cake was created in separate layers with very dense icing. When the icing hardened the tiers were then stacked (this method was a groundbreaking innovation at the time). Modern wedding cakes still use this method, but because of the size of today’s cakes, internal support is added to each layer in the form of dowels.

Get Your Coffee (Or Birthday Cake) Inside Your Wine? Yes, It’s Happening…

It’s toward the end of the workday and you’re dragging — torn between wanting a caffeinated jolt of coffee or moving right into a relaxing glass of wine.

Now you can have both — in the same glass. A company called Friends Fun Wine has introduced a new product to the growing flavored wine market, combining “the world’s most popular day drink with the world’s most popular night drink,” according to the company’s news release.

wine birthday cake

Adding flavors to wine has been around for centuries, since the first vintner invented vermouth, an aromatized fortified wine flavored with various botanicals. 

The history of wine culture includes widespread accounts of regional recipes combining herbs, spices, plants, juice, and spirits with a wine base. And who can forget the wine cooler explosion of the 1970s and ’80s?

But today’s modern mixologists and brand builders have really pushed the envelope. You can currently find wine bases flavored with coffee, chocolate, hazelnuts, even ice cream. And a company called Birthday Cake Vineyards has even bottled flavors of your favorite cake into the bottle.

This trend is not just happening in America. Last year, French Bordeaux-based Haussmann Famille introduced cola and passion fruit wines. The bold move, targeted largely to younger adults transitioning from soda to wine hybrids, appears to have been a huge success. Sweet inexpensive bottlings, such as those from Haussmann Famille, account for a large segment of the market among young French wine drinkers.

If it seems outrageous, even sacrilegious, to traditionalists who rant at the idea of these hybrid wine drinks, it’s an opportunity for a new generation of experimental marketers and consumers. Besides, the trend does not seem to be hurting the conventional wine market, which grew in the U.S. for the 20th year in a row in 2013 (Americans purchased a record 3.38 billion liters of wine last year, almost double the volume bought in 1993).

The largest segment of the flavored wine segment is reserved for fruit blends, but sweet additions such as chocolate are experiencing a rapid rise in sales, notably with ChocoVine, the original chocolate brand that now pushes espresso and raspberry spinoffs.

Birthday Cake Vineyards became extensive research and development project, spearheaded by two entrepreneurs and friends, Raphael Yakoby (creator of Hpnotiq and Nuvo) and David Kanbar (formerly executive at Skyy Vodka and co-creator of Skinnygirl). They shared the vision of creating a blend of confectionary flavors with fine wines, inspired by the tasting notes that one often hears or reads wine experts use to describe great wines, such as hints of cinnamon, chocolate, and cherry.

They liked the idea of combining the decadent nature of Birthday Cake with the enjoyment of wine. So, the flavors were developed around a Birthday Cake theme (Coffee Cake, Cheesecake, Cake Batter, Black Forest Cake, and Strawberry Shortcake), without “cloying, rich or overly sweet flavors,” according to the company website.

Then there’s the wine slushie. The company Tropical Wine Mixes sells bags of different tropical flavors that consumers add to a mix of equal parts water and inexpensive red or white wine. Just put everything in a gallon-sized, sealed plastic bag, freeze for 4 hours and, presto, wine slushies at the ready.

The new product message: Any combination is fair game. Bacon, barbecue and taco flavors in wine. Why not? The potato chip industry has gone full out to market the bold category of chips (Lay’s just introduced Chicken and Waffle flavored chips). Wine with bacon? Wine with olives? Wine with brie cheese? All in the same bottle?

It could happen sooner than you may think.


Fairy Tales Come True, Even On A Weekday


When couples decide to get married, the first thing they normally do is open a calendar and choose a date. And that date almost always falls on a weekend.

Next they choose a venue to hold the ceremony. But with only 52 weekends in a year — and high demand for the best venues — couples often have to settle.

It turns out that “weekday” is not such a dirty word anymore. More and more couples are opting for a formerly unfashionable midweek wedding date to ensure they get to marry in that historic house with large grounds, or that prime golf course on the ocean.

Surveys show a record 1 in 3 couples are spurning expensive weekend weddings to save money by hosting their nuptials on days when rates are generally cheaper — as much as 40 percent cheaper in some cases.

The study, which questioned 500 modern brides, found that the number of women walking up the aisle on a Saturday or Sunday has fallen to 67 percent of all weddings.

Aside from saving money, other factors that may cause couples to favor a midweek ceremony include convenience, an ability to hire the best wedding professionals, nostalgia (choosing a grandparent’s anniversary, or a quirky date such as Leap Day), intimacy (midweek works best for smaller, more personal weddings) and the fact that no other wedding or large event is likely to fall on their big day.

The honeymoon is also a consideration, with 17 percent of couples surveyed taking advantage of midweek flight deals by jetting off straight after the wedding.

Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley is a highly sought-after venue, so weekday weddings have become a huge hit, for the following reasons:
1. Savings. Holman Ranch offers a very reduced site fee for weekdays, and couples can expect the same from their vendors. Holman recommends that couples use that extra room in their wedding budget to splurge on that dream dress, or other extras that may have been budget busters before.
2. Flexibility. Times have changed, and more and more people work unconventional schedules, telecommute and are able to work anywhere with the right technology in place. Hotels usually offer discounted rates plus flights and car rentals are cheaper during the week.
3. Availability. Weekend dates can book up a year or more in advance, leaving weekdays as a viable option. And the sun shines just as brightly in Carmel Valley on weekdays as it does on weekends.

Holman also points out that weekday weddings naturally whittle down the guest count, therefore reducing costs. You can still invite the “B” List, but with more assurance that not all will be able to come due to the weekday. Couples score bonus points with the kind gesture inherent in an invitation, but are able to keep the guest list to a more manageable number.

Traditionalists might argue that the sense of occasion is lost on a weekday afternoon. But a wedding should be able to transcend its date, with hope that a couple’s loved ones will be just as excited to witness true love midweek as they would be on a weekend.

From Shaving Cream To Cat Tonic, Olive Oil Has Many Uses Outside The Kitchen

It’s well known that olive oil is a key ingredient in delicious vinaigrette, is integral in any marinade and coats every great chef’s sauté pan.

It’s also no longer news that olive oil is a major component of a healthy diet. Nutritionists have long touted the heart-healthy benefits of extra-virgin olive oil, which can significantly lower the risk of having a heart attack, suffering from a stroke or dying of heart disease, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. It can also help lower cholesterol and control insulin levels in the body, and research also suggests it helps prevent some cancers.

holman olive oil

But would you ever rub olive oil on your face, or your hair? Or treat a squeaky hinge with it? Outside the kitchen, olive oil has some other uses, some of which may surprise you.

1. Moisturize Skin
Olive oil makes the best moisturizer, especially during the dry, cold winter months. It soaks easily into your skin and doesn’t leave it feeling greasy. And if you soak herbs (such as lavender, rosemary or mint) in the oil you’re left with a very subtle, delightful scent. Packed with good fats and nutrients, a little bit of olive oil soothes crusty cuticles, relieves dry skin.

2. Polish Furniture
Don’t waste money buying chemical-rich wood furniture polish. Instead, use olive oil because it’s highly effective and more eco-friendly. It also works well for polishing silver and copper, or to clean and season cast-iron skillets.

3. Control Hair Frizz
A bit of olive oil can transform bad hair into manageable hair. Pour a few drops on your hand and rub them together once or twice to evenly distribute the oil. Lightly run your hands over your head to control the frizz. Olive oil can also be used as a deep treatment for dry or damaged hair. Comb a few tablespoons of oil through your hair, rubbing it in well. Cover with a shower cap and let it sit for at least half an hour before shampooing.

4. Ease Stuck Zippers
If your zipper is stuck, run a cotton swab soaked in olive oil along the metal teeth. It can help ease it back on track.

5. Use as Shaving Cream
Forgot those high-priced creams and gels, just rub a bit of olive oil on your face (or legs for that matter) and enjoy a smooth, clean shave.

6. Fix Squeaky Doors
Instead of wasting money on solvents, apply some olive oil on squeaky hinges to quiet an irritating noise without harsh chemicals or a toolbox.

7. Shine a Stainless Steel Sink
A light coating will make your sink gleam again, and prevent future water spots from showing up.

8. Remove Paint From Hair
If your home-improvement weekend leaves your head matching your freshly painted wall, use olive oil to ease the color out of your strands.

9. Care for Your Cat
Add a teaspoon of olive oil to your cat’s food to help prevent hairballs, and provide a shiny coat.

10. Lice Treatment
Apply olive oil to your youngster’s hair, and leave on for at least 40 minutes. Shampoo twice, and then re-apply as a preventative.

The Fight Goes On Between Equine Purists And Advocates Of Cloning

Argentinian millionaire and polo superstar Adolfo Cambiaso found it impossible to say goodbye to his star horse Aiken Cura after he broke down during a 2006 match.

So he cloned him.

Sounds like science fiction, but equine cloning has been discussed in the popular press since the birth of the first cloned equids (three mules and one horse) in 2003. Cambiaso saw an opportunity, and went into partnership with Texas oil tycoon Alan Meeker, who had purchased the cloning technology.


Today, Cambiaso has created around 100 clones of his favorite horses to ensure he continues to have the very best animals on the polo pitch, creating debate and controversy along the way.

Americans don’t care much for polo, but the success of Cambiaso’s cloning venture may have huge implications for what was once one of the most popular sports in America — horse racing.

There has been a subtle shift in perception of cloned horses worldwide, underscored when Federation Equestre Internationale, the international equestrian governing body, reversed an earlier ban on clones in competition. Clones will now be allowed to participate in the Olympics beginning in 2016. The FEI’s decision is based on the belief that clones are not 100 percent identical and also that the rider and environment make a difference in a horse’s performance.

In America, the controversy is playing out in court. Two Texas breeders — a rancher named Jason Abraham and a veterinarian named Gregg Veneklasen — sued the American Quarter Horse Association in 2012 after the AQHA refused to register eight cloned horses. The AQHA, like all other horse breed associations, has policies against registering cloned animals, and bans them from participating in races and other official association events. In its official policy statement on the lawsuit the association argued that cloning is “not breeding” because “clones don’t have parents” and said cloning does not improve the breed but makes “Xerox copies of the same horse.” AQHA also said that selected breeding was the only way to ensure the strength of the breed in the future.

A jury in a federal court in Texas ruled that the AQHA’s ban on cloned horses was a violation of anti-monopoly laws, and ruled in favor of Abraham and Veneklasen. The AQHA has appealed, however, and a resolution has still not been reached.

The AQHA, which bills itself as the “world’s largest equine breed registry and membership organization,” has more than 750,000 quarter horses registered.

Other U.S. horse-breeding groups are watching the case closely because it could set a precedent. No U.S. horse-breeder group allows clones to be registered. Breeders worldwide could be affected because semen could be transported to other countries, though some international laws might not allow the use of clones.

Currently it costs about $150,000 to clone a quarter horse. The chromosomes of a cell from the donor animal are transferred into the cytoplasm of an egg, and the egg is signaled to develop an embryo. Given the current state of science, it’s difficult to produce a clone with the exact same attributes as the original.

But if you clone the same horse a number of times, a near-exact match is almost assured — and that prospect has really opened Pandora’s Box.

Near-Historic Drought Stresses Grapes Just Enough To Make Delicious Wine

Winemakers across California’s famed regions picked and crushed grapes ahead of the usual harvest time this year because the near-historic drought has ripened crops early, one symptom from a lack of water.

But wine fans should shed too many tears. Vines don’t require nearly as much water as fruits and vegetables do, and the best vineyards have extremely efficient, environmentally correct irrigation systems. Even the vineyards that are dry-farmed have not been not overly stressed by the lack of rainfall.

What’s interesting to consider is that some stress is good for the vines, because that struggle to survive produces smaller, more concentrated berries and a somewhat higher sugar content — both results often coveted by winemakers.

If, however, California’s drought extends into 2015 and beyond, there could be significant issues in the vineyards.


Extreme water stress can have detrimental effects on both the vine and on potential wine quality. To conserve water, a vine will try to limit its loss through transpiration. The plant hormone abscisic acid triggers the stomata on the underside of the plant leaf to stay close in order to reduce the amount of water that is evaporated. This limits the intake of carbon dioxide needed to sustain photosynthesis.

When a vine has been deprived of water it can go beyond what is known as its permanent wilting point, and can become catastrophically damaged beyond recovery — even if later watered.

Some symptoms of severe water stress include: flaccid and wilting tendrils; wilting of young grape leaves; and berries shriveling and falling off the vine.

The Paso Robles wine region has been hit especially hard, and has actually forced some growers to abandon vines. So far, Monterey County vintners have not had to resort to such drastic measures, but they are hoping the new rain season, which began Oct. 1, brings much needed precipitation.

State officials are urging residents and businesses to keep conserving water as the state ends another extremely dry “water year” with no guarantee the coming year will be any wetter.

The 2014 water year was one of the driest on record, with the state getting less than 60 percent of the average precipitation, according to the state Department of Water Resources. The state’s major reservoirs collectively held only 57 percent of average water storage on Sept. 1.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency and called on residents to reduce water usage. The state and federal government have drastically reduced water deliveries to Central Valley farms, and the state water board approved fines of up to $500 for wasting water.

In 2012, California produced 89 percent of the wine in the U.S., from boutique labels such as Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley to corporate-owned giants.

Producing that much wine puts pressure on the state vineyards to adjust to environmental changes while keeping the quality high.

Holman Ranch always “stresses the vines” of its fruit with emphasis on reproduction, which in turn, stops growth and ripens fruit, so the overly dry year was nothing out of the ordinary. The valley configuration at the vineyard also allows for fog in the morning, which brings some natural moisture. But the fog rapidly moves out as the air warms, which is great for grapes, especially Pinot Noir.

Holman strives for balance and structure in its grapes, while aiming for three tons per acre at harvest, and it uses no herbicides or pesticides, which is in line with its sustainable and organic designation.

There’s Nothing Pedestrian About A Leisurely Hike

The word “pedestrian” describes a person walking, but it also means “prosaic, plain, commonplace or uninspired,” and for centuries that has cast a negative light on walkers everywhere. From the Latin pedester (on foot), the word once caused much derision (a foot soldier paled in comparison to a cavalry man, for example), meaning not to be on a horse or mobile in any way other than by foot, was to be utterly unremarkable.

The idea of walking through the countryside for pleasure developed in the 18th-century, and arose because of changing attitudes to the landscape and nature, associated with the Romantic Era. Before this time period, walking generally indicated poverty or vagrancy — and was, well, pedestrian. The Romantic Era launched an appreciation of the outdoors, and a slow, leisurely, up-close method of viewing it.

We called this pastime hiking, which in North America is the preferred term for a long, vigorous walk in the countryside. The word hiking is also sometimes used in the United Kingdom, along with rambling, hillwalking, and fell walking. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping, while Australians often call it bushwhacking.

fell walking

Whatever the term, mass mechanized transportation began to erode what the Romantic Era spawned, and greatly curtailed the love of walking and hiking, especially in the United States — which is a shame because the U.S. has more state and national parks (and open space in general), than any other country.

Statistics show that these days Americans prefer not to walk much. Experts recommend that a healthy human take around 10,000 steps per day (that’s the equivalent of about 5 miles). The average American takes about 5,100 steps a day, an embarrassing total when compared to Australians (9,695), Swiss (9,650) and Japanese (7,200). A rural South African woman takes an average of 10,594 steps a day (many while carrying a load), and an Amish man takes about 18,425 steps, making everyone else on the planet look downright sedentary.

There are still plenty of folks who love to hike. For them, there’s a simplicity in walking into the woods to commune with your surroundings. With no distractions or modern conveniences, you can learn a lot about yourself on a hike.

The Central Coast of California is a hiker’s dreamland. From the gorgeous coastline along Highway 1 to Big Sur, to the protected lands of Point Lobos, inland to Carmel Valley’s Garland Ranch Regional Park, hikers can find a range of views, topographies and wildlife.

After the sheer beauty, what makes hiking in these parts so appealing is the weather; dry summers, sunny and warm fall harvest months, a fresh, mild spring that produces verdant hills replete with wildflowers, and temperate, green winters. It creates a long season for those who want to explore.

With 400 acres, Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley specializes in multi-day retreats and single-day off-site events that feature unique event spaces and amazing activities, including hiking on property, where you’ll encounter vineyards, agriculture, mountains, olive groves, horses, flora, fauna, and so much more.

Nothing pedestrian about that.

Dancing Can Lead To Romance — And Wedding Bells

Going on a first date can often feel a lot like a job interview. You sit down to dinner, ask and answer awkward questions, squirm in your seat and try not to look nervous.

Instead you could be dancing.

Alex and Alyssa Pagonis know the power of dance. The two met on a mission trip to Figi and “it was love at first sight on the dance floor of the resort we were staying at,” said Alyssa.
Their first date upon returning home? Dinner and dancing (of course) in San Francisco.

After many dates and many dances, Alex proposed while the two sat overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. “I was living in San Francisco while we were dating, and we grew to love the city together,” she said.


Alex and Alyssa married on Aug. 4 of 2014 at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. They chose Holman Ranch for its beautiful grounds, friendly staff and the couple’s ability to customize the wedding with vendors of their choice.

Of course, they had DJ and plenty of dancing.

“During the dancing, we played a couple of Greek songs,” said Alyssa, a decision to honor her husband’s heritage. Alex’s mom and his theias (Greek for aunts) baked some delicious Greek cookies for the dessert bar, too.

For Alex and Alyssa, it all started on the dance floor. So why waste another evening at a restaurant or in the movie theater when you and your date could be grooving to some music? Dancing is a great way to discover any potential chemistry between you and your date. You become one another’s partner, instead of just two people on a date. And participating in something active like dancing releases endorphins that elevate mood and generate positive feelings. Combine that with some fun music and you’ve got an experience that will curb any first date jitters while allowing people to be themselves.

Other reasons why dancing is a good idea for a date:
• Dance is the universal icebreaker. No talking is required because the music fills the airspace between you. All you need to do is smile and be natural, not trying to do too much — especially if it’s beyond your skill level.
• It can ignite passion. Dance is an exciting way to get to know each other. It fosters respect for both partners and forces you to let your guard down by just having fun. Being in close proximity to your date, making eye contact, and learning the way each other’s bodies move can be very alluring.
• It’s easy. People of all ages, sizes and experience levels can dance. Dance studios host private and group lessons for every level of expertise from beginner to expert.

Couple: Alex and Alyssa Pagonis
Wedding Date: Aug. 3, 2014
Guest Count: 182
Other Vendors
Wedding Planner: Dreams on a Dime, Jessica Goldblatt
Caterer: Paradise Catering
Photographer: Dave Medal Photography
Videographer: Ellay Films
DJ/Band/Musicians: Sound in Motion
Bakery: Gizdich Ranch Pies
Hair and Makeup: M.U.A.H. Makeup and Hair
Florist: Loop Flowers and Event Arts


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