Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Pandora's Box o' Fun

"A vacation is what you take when can no longer take what you've been taking."
Stealing a kiss from the handsome-est dude on the trail ride.
Four years ago, I was drifting. Flatlining, to be more precise. 

Raised a wonderful daughter, sent her off to college and then knocked around a big, empty house, for an entire year, with nobody to talk to but... me. 

Heading into the Chuchillo Mountains, near Truth or Consequences, NM.
Kept asking myself the same question over and over again: Now what, Kate? Now what?

Me and my wonderful borrowed horse, Baby Rain.
'Twas my next door neighbor who saved me. She and I lied to the horse owner down the road from us. Lied, big time.

That unsuspecting woman had advertised that she leased horses to "experienced riders." So, we told her we were experts. (How hard could it be? :)

My good friend Nancy. We would never have met, were it not for our love of horses.
The fact that I put the halter on upside down was a dead give away, though we somehow cajoled this gal into leasing us two horses for the summer.

A sneaky move that opened a pandora's box of fun.

Carol. My roomie on this ride and - dig this - she wears Harry Potter pajamas. I was so jealous!
Horses, whether male or female, behave like impetuous teenage girls. They are frustrating, stubborn, moody, and ~ quite often ~ for sale! Because they don't always behave themselves when you need their undivided attention.

They bring out the Mom in you... Suddenly someone needed me again.

There's always one show off in the bunch. :)
In the beginning, everyone called horses my midlife crisis. And, they were probably right.

But, here's the deal. Even when it comes to an alleged crisis, there's safety in numbers. On my very first trail ride, I met a fun group of women who called themselves the SADDLE SORE-ORITY.

And, whaddyaknow... These women had been looking for something new to do ~ their kids, like mine, were away at college, making it much harder to meddle in their lives.

Los Alamos nuclear engineer. Cowgirl at heart.
Beginning a new hobby opens more doors than you'd ever imagine. I joined an entire world of like-minded people I'd never have met, where it not for this new-found passion.

Our handsome guide and his sidekick apprentice.
Have you looked into horse vacations? How long did it take to recover from sticker shock?

Here's a little known secret: 
It does NOT cost a fortune to enjoy this type of adventure. 

You simply need to Google your little heart out ~ search for true benefit trail rides vs. tourist traps looking to make a fast buck. (These benefit trail rides often rent horses.)

In a town of 12 people (not kidding)... we discovered this tiny Catholic Church.
I rode a borrowed horse. Stayed in a comfy lodge. 5 days, meals included, live entertainment and dancing nightly. (May I just say that learning the two-step is harder than it sounds??? I kept turning it into a 3-step.) And the total cost was..... $475.

All of which went to support the Black Range Horse Camp for kids.

* Full Disclosure: The food was terrible. I mean really and truly terrible. (Leftover spaghetti for breakfast.) But, the camaraderie made up for everything. And, hey! I lost a pound or two...


Janie said...

Well, I guess you even found a bright side to the bad food! Sure looks like a fun ride and some beautiful riding country.

Melospiza said...

This is the most inspiring post I've read in quite a while (and it gives me something to look forward to when I'm done going to a million kids' sporting events. Besides being able to hear myself think, which I am looking forward to very, very much.)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hmmmmm I wonder if there is anything like this around here. I know the scenery wouldn't be the same but hay, it sounds like so much fun.

D said...

Fabulous! and I hear your enthusiasm. Wonderful photos, Kate, and so pleased you had a great time. Had we been closer, I could have invited you to dinner. ;)

Laurrie said...

You are living my dream. Many years ago I cajoled my family into a horse vacation at a dude ranch in Wyoming, and it changed my life. We went back every summer, and I was a total DUDE there. Loved the horses, all of it. I went back after my husband died, and I took my new husband there years later. If I am ever alone again, I will find a group like yours and some balky teenage-acting horses and I will be off and galloping.

You found your center. How wonderful.

Marguerite said...

Kate, somehow I had this impression that you've been riding forever. I've loved horses since I could walk but have never rode. I've often thought I'd like to take it up but rather thought I was too old. Hearing that you took up riding not so long ago makes me realize there's still plenty of time for me to learn.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Janie!
This ride was near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Just gorgeous! Some of the best riding I've ever experienced. Though I will confess I was a little weary of bologna sandwiches by day 5!! :))

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Melospiza;
With any luck I'll still be riding when you send those monkeys off to college. We'll do a trip together...

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hey, Lisa;
I'm pretty sure you can find some. The gal in my first picture was departing New Mexico, on her way to Western Kentucky for the next one. :)) Oh, how I wish I was retired...

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Diana -- I hope you know I'd drive all night to join you for dinner. With or without the horse! :D

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Thx, Laurrie;
It has certainly enriched my life.. :D And, you'll always have a cowgirl friend out here, should you get a wild hair to come riding.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Marguerite;
I've loved horses all my life but never had the time (or money) to pursue this crazy passion until my daughter was finished with college. Sign up for a few riding lessons! The saddle sore-ority needs new members!! :)))

Snowcatcher said...

I love how you can make even the worst breakfast sound... well, gross! But what an adventure, and look where it took you! Look at you now, Girl!

Greta said...

I loved your post and your pictures. It shows taht you have really enjoyed yourself a lot!

Unknown said...

What a wonderful story. I have a long distance friend who threatens to get me into riding. I would be inspired if I had such lovely places to ride.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Oh, Snowcatcher... you haven't heard the half of it. Velveeta took center stage for the... ahem... appetizers. :D

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Thx, Greta!
I only see the people in these pics when we meet up for trail rides. (They're from all over the U.S.) It's like a reunion, of sorts. And, everyone had a fab time.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Well, Tufa...

You're only a day's drive from me. Come for a visit and I'll show the ropes. (Pun intended. :)

Carolyn ♥ said...

Who needs good food when you're having so much fun!