Tis the season. The statement means different things to different people. Some people shop, some people get bronchitis, some start singing carols, and some leave creepy little elves in random places around their home/office/classroom. To each his own I say.
For me, I like to enjoy the Christmas break in ways I hope my family will remember. Through the years, I have discovered that no matter what amazing, up to date, coveted gift I give my children for Christmas, they have forgotten it by St. Patrick’s day. Because of this, I started several years ago giving my kids the gift of ‘adventure’ for Christmas. We have gone sledding in the mountains, traveled to Colorado, and this year….dude ranching.
It’s funny….my parents and I have thrown the idea of a dude ranch trip around for years. It has always been on of those ‘way out there’ ideas we had. Lucky for me, I have a father in law that jumps at opportunities to do things with his grandkids. I mentioned it and he booked it!
What is a dude ranch? In a nut shell, it is an opportunity to get up close and personal with a horse for days on end. At this particular ranch, you are assigned a horse for your stay. Saguaro and I have been a good team. He is a pleaser, a snuggler, and the first in line to head home right before it is time. HE has come out of this unscathed. I, on the other hand, have trouble sitting without whimpering and feel as though my butt has completely disappeared.
Because I dated a cowboy a few years ago, I foolishly thought I would qualify as an intermediate riders. This was not the best choice I have made in my life. I also decided I didn’t need a lesson until day two….after going on two slow rides and two fast rides. The slow rides were fine. Slow. The fast rides should have been called something more appropriate like….’rides that will cause you to bounce around in the saddle so much you will want to cry but won’t for fear the tears would blind you and you will fall to your death in the God forsaken desert of Tucson.” Seriously….fast ride left a LOT of information out of the adventure.
I have to give the ranch props though. On the sign right outside the horse pen, it says very clearly that riding horses is an adventure that involves risks. There should be some fine print describing these risks….’risks to body, mind, spirit, self-esteem, tailbones, knees, hair, certain death, etc.’
The good news is, no one has died. No one has been seriously hurt or maimed. We convinced Ben to get on the horse THREE times (boredom and lack of all technology does wonders for motivation). The cowboys and ‘wranglers’ have all be super awesome.
Like most things, when I first start out and I’m having fun and all is well, I start daydreaming about changing my entire life to become this new adventure person. Sitting atop a mighty steed, I picture myself moving my kids to a ranch, buying horses, hiring capable(sexy) cowboys, planting fields of … corn?, living in a rustic, yet modern, log cabin….yada yada yada…..
Then, we try ‘loping’, which is fancy cowboy talk for barely getting close to a slow run, and I realize all my bones have changed their position in my body and I want more than anything to climb into a hot bath and read my book. It looks so easy and smooth when the cowfolk ride..I wonder why it hurts me so much. So, I take a lesson. After listening to the 67 basic things I need to ‘remember’ but not ‘think about’ in order to make my ride smooth and effortless…? I realize…maybe I am just a city slicker that isn’t meant to be atop a horse more than a few times a year.
The real clincher for me was at the end of my lesson today. My ‘wrangler’ told me, “don’t worry about it. You are doing fine. Just remember, if it feels good, you are doing it right.” Holy heck. I haven’t done anything right this week! Cause I said so.
Photo credit: Actually me, iphone 5, selfie with a cooperative horse…not Saguaro…I feel like such a cheater….