This past Friday we got to meet some of my parents friends, Steve and Robin.
They own horses out on a ranch about 40 miles from Wyoming.
They invited us out to come for a ride and roast hot dogs over a fire.
So Mom and Dad, Chris and Traci, and Scott and I loaded up the 6 kids and drove out to the ranch. In the rain.
But when we got there the sun shone down on the ranch, its rocky hills shaded with red rocks and tall grass, like a little patch of heaven. Louis L'Amour country.
The children were immediately enamoured of Trouble, Dixie and Molly, the horses.
Chris, Dad and Steve led the first batch of cowboys up into the brush.
They took to the horses like flies on jam.
(I feel the need to use some country-like euphemisms in this post.)
Cool Hand Jack.
The Curly Kid.
And Slow Draw Addie McGraw.
They soaked it up. Addison cried that he only got to have one ride.
Addie says he no longer wants a puppy and kitten. He wants a horse....and an alien.
(a sudden love of aliens has sprung from a late night viewing of Chicken Little...)
The clouds were coming up and it was time for the big people to ride.
So while the kids jumped off hay bales in the barn and looked for bunnies,
Traci and I rode off into the sunset led by Steve.
The horses were amazing taking the rocky slopes and picking their way up and over brush and stinging nettles.
We pretended we knew what were were doing and clung on for dear life.
Despite some horse riding on the beach when I was doing a kids summer rec program in college, I have never actually ridden a horse out on the range.
We started to get the hang of it by the end of the ride and felt pretty proud of ourselves.
We traded out our horses for Scott and Chris to ride. Dixie wasn't down with Scott and kept balking, eating grass and proceeded to gallop up a slope to catch up with the other horses.
Scott said he simultaneously pulled a muscle in his chest and rear as he careened up the hill to his certain death.
He may or may not have yelled out, "I'm going to die!" during his ride.
He will neither confirm or deny this rumor.
He said he rode that way to make Chris look good.
I felt bad for him but thought I may have handled the situation differently since I had 15 minutes more riding experience than Scott......until my second ride.
I went with Dad and Steve on the last ride of the day as the rain clouds closed in.
I was on Dixie. She held back to take care of some business. She's a lady like that.
But on seeing that she was a bit behind Steve she took off loping up a hill.
Did you know that horses can gallop up a hill and all you have to cling to is two ribbon thin pieces of leather?
I thought for sure I was going down.
I grabbed frantically at the reigns and all I could yell out was,
"Whoa! WHOA! WHOA!"
The jarring of body parts that went on during that short uphill charge was indescribable. I'm still tender as I sit here typing.
I heard dad take off up after me as Molly got excited to see Dixie galloping.
This was accompanied by a manly yell of "Help me, Jesus!" as she sashayed down the enbankment and up the hill to follow us.
Steve was tickled. He said he had never seen anyone's eyes get as big as mine and wished I could have seen my own face.
I laughed nervously. Dad recovered quickly, master rider that he is, but he seemed a bit nervous since the jog had taken him closer to a saddle horn than he ever wanted to be.
Steve turned the horses loose into the darkening night and the clouds opened up.
We finished our evening out in the Carriers kitchen eating hot dogs and some of the best oatmeal cookies ever.
And laughing. A lot.
Even though, lo, I saw my life flash before my eyes as I crested a mini hill on a ranch in Colorado and Scott thought he was going to meet Jesus early, I can't help wondering, if we'll get a chance to ride again next summer.