Why I Couldn't Afford to Ride Horseback With Gene Hackman
We used to live in Tesuque, New Mexico, up on a long mesa behind the Rancho Encantado resort a few miles outside of Santa Fe. We lived at the end of a dirt road that ran along the mesa top, and Gene Hackman lived on the same road. (Ali McGraw lived just across the street, but that's another story.) Anyway, I played on the Santa Fe Polocrosse Team and was out exercising my polocrosse horse on the road one day. I was trotting along on the side of the dusty road when a big black SUV pulled up right beside me and stopped. I was a little nervous for a second about why some mysterious vehicle would stop in the road like that, but the dark tinted window came down, and I saw that it was Gene Hackman and his wife, Betsy. Gene introduced himself and her to me, and we chatted for a little while. He complimented my buckskin horse, and mentioned that he'd ridden a buckskin in Bite the Bullet- which was one of my favorite movies, I told him. So, being a friendly sort and because I'd seen him riding in Bite the Bullet and other westerns, I told him that my buckskin, Cisco, was just one of my two horses, and asked if he'd like to come ride with me sometime. He laughed and said, "Elaine, I don't get on a horse for less than a million dollars." I laughed, too, and said, "Well, I guess we won't be riding together very soon, then." So- turns out that Gene Hackman wasn't as big a fan of horses as the character he played in Bite the Bullet, darn it. But he was a nice and friendly neighbor, so I forgave him.