Thursday, October 27, 2016

30 Before 30: Go Horseback Riding

So, I actually have been horseback riding before. I was 12, at my aunts house. She lives on a ranch with all sorts of farm animals. Her kids - my cousins - were always feeding the animals, riding the horses.

This city girl wanted in on that fun. So I went for a trot on one of their Chestnuts. I wasn't on him long... the trotting seemed a little boring for me, so I gave him a swift kick to the side. No no, he didn't like that. He lifted his front hooves in the air and buck me off, running the opposite direction.

Ouch. It didn't hurt and I wasn't injured, just a little.... shocked. I pulled my now sore body off the ground and headed back into the house. You know that thing you do when you're fine, totally fine after a physical or emotional experience but then you see your mom, or someone else you care about and that's when the waterworks come.

My mom came outside as I was walking in the house and I.Just.Lost.It.

After she dried my tears, I swore I would never get on one of those beasts again.

Fast forward 16 years.

There's nothing that's necessarily drawn me to horses, nothing in particular that's piqued my interest. I think it's more of a challenge, more of a conquering my fear situation.

A few years ago I bought my mom and I a Groupon to go horseback riding in Estes Park that we never used, I was busy when some friends went horseback riding through Garden of the Gods, and I missed the trip my parents went to the Breckenridge stables.

The chance to go horseback riding came unexpectedly but perfectly.

Dan has a college friend that owns a town... yes you read that correctly, a TOWN. It's called Hillside in Southern Colorado, population 100.

Read about their story to buying the town here.

The town has a post office, a event hall and a handful of cottages. Chris renovated these cottages and turned them into vacation rentals. A few of them weren't booked for the weekend, so he invited us down to stay and catch up.

Wow! These cottages are gorgeous- they did an amazing job renovating them, turning them into rustic, modern cabins!

That night, we drank wine, chatted and got caught up on the recent happs. Chris mentioned that he was getting up early to meet his brother at their grandfathers ranch (just up the road) to go horseback riding. He asked us if we'd like to join.

Um... yes.

The next morning we got up early and headed to the ranch. I had moccasins on, and Chris informed me those were in no way proper riding shoes, so I had to wear his oversize running shoes. It was hilarious.

We arrived at the quite ranch where Chris grew up coming to. You could tell it had a special place in his heart. The horses we were going to ride were out in the pasture, so we brought some rope and a bucket of feed to lour them to us.

We walked about 200 yards through the pasture of horse poo (thank goodness I wasn't wearing my moccs) when they came trotting towards us. Chris showed us how to loop the rope around their necks in order to lead them to the stable.

Back at the stable, he gave us each a brush to use on our horse. My horses' name was Sancho and he was a beautiful chestnut brown. Being so close to such a giant animal is very surreal. These animals are used to people, are ridden frequently, and are use to this interaction. But for me it was a whole new experience.

I am an animal LOVER so I didn't mind giving him brushes and pets and pep talks.

After getting pampered, Chris showed us how to saddle our horse. After that, it was time to hop on. This is when things got a little scary for me, but Chris was an amazing teacher and oozed calmness, which I tried to mimic.

We gently trotted through his grandfather's ranch, even up through the trees and woods, up and down hills, across small streams. It was amazing.

At one point I got emotional at the sheer beauty and calmness that surrounded us. It was a grey morning, but still, so incredibly peaceful . Not to mention we were nestled in the beautiful Sangre de Cristos.

My horse was very silly. I nicknamed him Hungry Hippo because he would try and eat anything in his path, dipping me down as he did. Also, Dan's horse was his brother, so they always had to be riding next to each other. It was adorable.

We rode for about 2 hours before heading back to the stable. It was an incredible experience that I will not forget. I also think it's such a unique experience. It wasn't guided, the horses weren't constantly ridden by tourists, they weren't following a pre-planned route.

We were free and open and in their world. It was simply beautiful.

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