Marsha Maulhardt bought a horse in 1981 to assist her dad.
Her father worked for a family estate at what is now the Marbella Country Club but did not inherit the property. Maulhardt saw her dad become depressed over the exclusion, so she purchased a horse that she thought she could breed and show at horse shows to make money.
She never saw the horse before and when the horse was delivered, she was in for a surprise.
“I got this horse off the trailer and I was shocked,” Maulhardt said. “What come out the trailer was this terrified, scrawny horse with bad hair.”
Maulhardt knew then she couldn’t rescue her dad with the horse but formed a bond with the animal anyway.
The relationship with the horse and her dad forms the basis of her autobiographical book A Horse Named Goofy. Maulhardt will host a book signing at Mother Earth Flowers on March 24 from 4-6 p.m.
She ended up self-publishing the book since publishers she talked to told her they didn’t have the necessary staff for it. Maulhardt was adamant about her family being able to hear the story before they die.
Her father was a chauffeur and gardener for the estate owner. Maulhardt alleges her father was mistreated and unappreciated by his employer.
“My dad worked 24/7 and, in 10 years, had no vacation,” she said. “He was paid $300 a month until his death in 1989.”
Her father was 74 when he died and, according to Maulhardt, broke down when he learned he would not get his employer’s house after years of service. She was 40 at the time of his death.
“It still breaks my heart to know what my dad suffered,” she said. “I would have done anything to help him.”
Maulhardt’s mother also worked at the estate and was in charge or organizing the house and changing linens. She died of pancreatic cancer, two years after Maulhardt’s father.
She grew up in San Juan and was raised on a ranch. Maulhardt mentions working as a kid at a pottery shack across from Mission San Juan Capistrano and at a hardware store, which is now the restaurant Bloom.
She was 13 when she purchased her first horse.
“We rode our bikes and horses everywhere,” Maulhardt said. “I would ride from the ranch all the way to Doheny (State Beach).”
She also described learning how to rope cows from the vaqueros in what is now Rancho Mission Viejo and attending a one-classroom school inside the Mission grounds.
“It couldn’t have been a better childhood,” Maulhardt said. “Everybody knew everybody. It was a magical town.”
She now lives in Ventura after moving there with her husband, who was in the Air Force, though she still has family in San Juan.
Copies of A Horse Named Goofy can be obtained at the book signing or directly from Maulhardt. It is not available online or in book stores.
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