Sun streams through the trees, warming your cheeks and glinting off the snow flakes floating in the air. You hear the soft snort and feel the girth of the horse blow up and release beneath your legs. Your horse picks it up to a trot and you bounce along to the rhythm. Do you remember the first time you rode a horse? The look of joy in my children's faces as they sat on these beautiful animals this past weekend is now seared in my memory.
I mean, the joy of it!
Honestly, I remember loving horseback riding from the first. Didn't you? My parents sent me to a dude ranch as my first sleep away camp. Why they thought this was a good idea, given that I had never ridden a horse before, I'll never know, but I loved it all. I thought my horse, Dot, and I would be connected forever. Such strong emotions and animal attachment from the get-go.
Think about how big horses seem to those little people. The big eyes, the velvety nose, the hot snorts, the warm neck, the mane and tail, and don't forget the ucky teeth.
My kids were enraptured and frankly, I was again too. I forgot how much I loved it, the views, the movement, the feeling of freedom as you lope down a country road. It has been a while since I stayed at a real dude ranch. Sure a "trail" ride here or there, but not a full working ranch. What a great weekend to celebrate my mother-in-law's 70th (gift tutorial for her coming up soon)! We got hit with a mild snow while we were there. Even living in Colorado, where the ranch was located, it was impossible not to bask in how "western" it all felt. Rustic and rough in all the right places.
The ranch was fit out with those special spots and views that make a place snuggle down in your brain as one to be remembered– a kids' barn with a peek-a-boo window, a leaning wagon wheel, an abandoned cart, a working water pump, and a hidden room with a wall-board that opens up to let you pet the massive moose head in the dining hall.
Lost Valley Ranch made everything seem special. Located smack in the middle of the remains of Colorado's largest wildfire (140,000 acres), the ranch's valley remained remarkably untouched. The expansive views dappled with aspens, pines and recovering forests were awe-inspiring
and eerie at the same time.
The kids were with their cousins which allowed lots of relaxing time for the adults as the kiddos frolicked, adventured and generally did things they maybe shouldn't be doing and lots they should.
It was a great weekend, and the kind that won't be easily forgotten.
Happy trotting. Peace out.