Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society and Pistolero’s Scoundrels team up in saving horses at annual Wild West Casino Nights

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Dressed like a schoolmaster, but maybe hiding a ruffian, the man’s glittery blue eyes are staring from behind his spectacles and a black felt Stetson brim with a sparkling silver band. He’s pulling a card from the “shoe,” used by “Faro” bankers to keep their hopefully square deck of cards. Grey vest, long wool black coat, teal blue printed tie, long piano player fingers dancing between the abacus look-alike “case keep” and the loosing lady’s copper on the table; so who is this fast “Faro” gambler?

Dressed like a schoolmaster, but maybe hiding a ruffian, the man’s glittery blue eyes are staring from behind his spectacles and a black felt Stetson brim with a sparkling silver band. He’s pulling a card from the “shoe,” used by “Faro” bankers to keep their hopefully square deck of cards. Grey vest, long wool black coat, teal blue printed tie, long piano player fingers dancing between the abacus look-alike “case keep” and the loosing lady’s copper on the table; so who is this fast “Faro” gambler? Maybe Wyatt Earp’s or Doc Holliday’s reincarnation in one and only Pico Pistolero of Los Angeles who brought his equally mischievous scoundrels to smooth talk the ladies and sprinkle their charm in exchange for gold. Well, fake gold. None of this is real-real, but real enough to wildly entertain the hundreds of people who joyfully made it to the sixth edition of the Wild West Casino Nights 6 presented by the Victorian Rose Ladies Riding Society last Saturday at the Rodeo Grounds in Lakeside.

The Wild West Casino Night is the largest fundraising event in San Diego with donations more than $30,000 to local horse rescue non-profit organizations. Guests were pouring in, many of them loyal donors coming back every year to enjoy wearing Old West costumes, playing long forgotten games, have dinner with good food, good wine and exquisite friends and maybe win one of the many awesome prizes up for silent auctions and raffles. Lisa Wood has a horse ranch in El Monte Valley and is dressed for the part tonight, ready “to support horse rescue efforts, especially during these trying times when we have so many fires and hurricanes and many animals are being displaced.” Wood ended up in a bidding war with the Victorian Rose Ladies’ “Coachman Rose,” (real name Sioux Munyon Swart) to win a Mo Parga Horse Training certificate. Coachman Rose is well known in Lakeside for her beautiful carriage, famous dogs and six Belgian draft horses making long acclaimed appearances during parades, fairs and other shows. 

The Victorian Rose Ladies are up to 23 members already (invite only) after being in existence for the past 11 years. They can chose their own “rose” name and have the newest member on board tonight, wearing a borrowed lovely coral dress with burgundy and silver accents and a bright red feather in her hair. Elaine Pickel had horses for almost three decades and participated in multiple shows and Western pleasure classes with her now two horses, Casey and Flame. “I am learning to sew now, so I can make my own dress next year,” she said.

Co-funder and co-president Deana Wallace Sommerville can’t complain either, as her dress is truly fabulous, after she changed the design five times before giving it to somebody else to finish it. “This year, we have more Old West games, a new horse rescue organization we support and yes, more people attending. We want to give back to the community, especially during these times where horses don’t seem to be a priority.”

The four horse rescue organizations benefiting from this fundraising effort are Blue Apple Ranch, Horses of Tir Na Nog, Baker Ranch Equine Rescue and Falcon Ridge Equine Rescue.

Pico Pistolero is dealing a new hand for Kathy Danforth from La Mesa, who is badly loosing. Why? Danforth says the game is easy, so it must be the banker’s tricks. Pistolero denies any foul play and points out “the old Westerners weren’t rocket scientists. If they were able to play Faro, everybody can.” Pistolero built the table himself and it looks fantastic. He is whispering his real name (“with an Y, not W”) in exchange for an oath that is going to remain a secret forever, or else. Across the room sits one of his numerous “Scoundrels”, Denver-born Walter Keller by his real name and a “Grand Hazard” master player, wearing a tall crown black hat, green silk tie, customary 1800’s brown-striped vest to hide the gold and the Colt and red sleeve garters. Keller is enthusiastically applauding a winner, which is not a rare sight here tonight, where humans win if horses win and the horses won big.

Victorian Roses Ladies Riding Society and Pistolero’s Scoundrels team up in saving horses at annual Wild West Casino Nights