Monday, December 13, 2010
It's Sunday and the spouse is throwing a "hot pants" party. Mr. Wheat called to save me, offering to let the boys ride one of the horses he tends on a local ranch. "Do they have rubber boots?" he asked. "Sure do, matter-of-fact, Sage has his on right now!"
We met Ron at the Ranch about 20 minutes later. I picked up my Pops on the way and grabbed him some boots too. John, the Rancher, wanted to give vaccinations to some of his calves as they were getting runny noses. The boys and I tried to stay out of the way and let the real cowboys round up the cattle.
When the horses were all saddled up, Sage got to go first and the grin on his face was pure joy, the most genuine smile I have ever seen him conjure.
Tanner was next and the resulting grin was identical. He got a little more excitement though as a passing car slightly spooked the horse and Tanner got to go for a brief trot. Ride em' cowboy! You can tell Ron has been around horses his entire life. The horses obviously respect him and he moves about them fluidly, without a wasted movement, brushing, saddling, strapping and leading.
After the boys got their fill-Ron showed his experience dealing with competing brothers and let them ride tandem-it was time for yours truly to saddle up!
I hadn't ridden a horse since before Tanner was born but I was much more excited than nervous. After being reminded that you always mount a horse on its left side, and having Ryan help me into the stirrup, we circled the corral and headed for the hills of Southampton. After crossing a slippery bridge, Ron led me up the hill and informed me, "They like to run up hill." About half way up, my saddle started tilting to the right. Being the novice, I tried to wrench it back into place with my hands on the pommel and the next thing I know, I was eating dirt.
The horse obediently stood there as I dusted the mud off my face and Ron re-settled the saddle. I thought of the old saying about "getting back on your horse" as I swung my leg back over the saddle on the slippery, muddy slope. We headed back up the hill and I used my legs as instructed to stay centered and balanced.
The view from a horse in the hills evokes images of the wild-west to be sure, but also this feeling of royalty. Like sitting on top of the world with a beautiful animal at your beckon call. I could instantly see how Ron commits himself to these horses everyday. They give back everything they get and then some. After reaching the top of the saddle, we head back downhill. This time I really put the brakes on and we pick our way down the trail, back to the reality of town and family commitments, leaving the majestic hill top and it's misty diversions at our backs.