Friday, August 31, 2012

I'm Not Annie Oakley, But...

I went horseback riding today. What a privilege. I have a friend who lives outside Elgin Arizona (about an hour and half southeast of Tucson. 3,000 feet higher and 10 degrees cooler) on her horse property/ranch (aka "paradise") with three horses, two dogs, a cat and some very loud cicadas. We had been talking about doing this ever since we met on a trip to Tanzania two-and-a-half years ago. 

I haven’t been riding in years and I’ve always been a novice (although pretty comfortable and I have managed to stay on at a full gallop not of my choosing). So we decided to try a “trial trail” ride. It was great. 

The first half of the ride was in a flat bottom ravine full of mesquite trees. Then we went up (nothing dramatic) to the (gentle) ridge top for the way back. Gorgeous. Have you ever seen those western paintings or post cards – rolling grasslands dotted with scrub oak, wide-open vistas, 360 degrees of mountain ranges - layering all the way into Mexico, bright  blue sky with huge white clouds? It was like that. Only way better. I was actually there. Stunning. Southeastern Arizona is grasslands and with the above-average rains we’ve had it was green everywhere – not Ireland green, but that soft, well...grass green. Truly lovely.

Susan gave me all kinds of tips (she is a real horse woman and runs outfitter/trips in Copper Canyon in  Mexico so she’s really good at pointers). There is a lot to pay attention when riding a horse in regards to what you are doing with your body and the reins and the effect on your steed (Arabian/Quarter Horse mix – smart, responsive, heat-tolerant and just the right size – not so small that I feel like a burden and so big that it looks like a ladder is needed to get up there). And you need to pay attention to where you are going. With all that, and the stunning (did I say gorgeous) views, it was really mind-clearing…very in-the-moment.

Susan said I did good. Which is great for me because I kinda have a crush on DC (the horse to which I refer) and I want to do that again. Horseback riding on a week day. Now THAT's my idea of living.  Cowgirl up!

 P.S. I met Susan through my friend Chris, from whom I have learned and experienced much about the natural world. Chris just started a kick-ass blog: Wild Mountain Soundscapes. I’d like to think I inspired her just a teensy bit. Check it out:

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