So I went to visit my family for Christmas as I do every year. My family is not located anywhere near where I live. For one week a year I trade in green rolling hills for the vastness of the Southern Arizona desert. Even though I am Mexican I do not speak Spanish. I am a very bad Mexican. This can create some family tension at times so I am not particularly close to any of my relatives down there. My Uncle and his wife have horses, but we don’t talk a lot about them. This year I decided that I would really make the effort to get to know more their horsey side (they do have 5 after all).
I was not sure how to break the ice, but my uncle (for the first time ever mind you) asked about my horses. They saw a picture of Phoenix and I at a show which peaked their interest. We got to talking and they kept wanting to see more pictures so I showed my flickr account slide show to my Aunt after Christmas dinner. Poor thing sat through 200+ pictures of everything ranging from the sores on Gen’s legs to my competition photos. At some point during the slide show she asked me if I wanted to come to the barn with her and go for a ride! It was tough for me to contain my excitement. They have never even offered for me to go look at their horses let alone go for a ride! I am not sure what changed, but whatever it was I loved it!
That is my Aunt (who is also a gringo like me) riding her 7 year old quarter horse mare. As you saw from the pictures yesterday it was a totally different kind of trail ride then I am used to and it was WONDERFUL. I was riding my uncles (as Michelle called him “the cute chestnut”) horse who is a good egg. I mean, a horse named Gary had to be good right? The horse doesn’t spook at anything and is a smooth and easy ride. I loved the feel of a western saddle beneath me. It felt like I was riding a couch. The horn did get in my way a few times when we went up the hills. I am ashamed to admit that I did indeed take a saddle horn in the chest on more than one occasion. I am not used to leaning to the side, normally I just lean down! My Aunt got a kick out of that. What can I say, I am a Greenhorn out west! I have ridden western many times before but nothing recently. In fact, I would say it has been a good 10 years since I rode western so it was a great change of pace. So much so that I want a western saddle now 😛
What I loved about the trail ride was how calm it was. We rode mostly at the walk, although we did jog a little bit. We also rode on a flat rode so it was easy to see where we would be going next, not like how I am used to with a trail that zig zags all over the place and has tons of trails coming on and off of it at all times. It was just a totally different world out there. So peaceful. It honestly felt like a dream, especially since my trail rides with Phoenix as of late have had a lot of extra excitement (bad baby horse). We were out for about an hour and a half and I felt like I could have ridden for another 4 hours. Between the comfyness of the saddle, the easy gait of the horse, and the good company of my aunt it was just a wonderful time.
Now you noticed yesterday that there are no pictures of me on the horse on this trail ride and there is a reason why. My Aunt and Uncle do not ride with helmets. Not only that, but there was not even a helmet to be found at the barn for me to borrow. I pride myself in always riding with a helmet, even though it is not a very DQ (dressage queen) thing to do. I am ashamed that I rode without a helmet and did not want any record of it. The trail ride was wonderful though and so I am glad that I went and that nothing bad happened.
The funny thing was that when I got off I almost fell over. Why? Because the stocky Quarter Horse I was riding, Gary, was much closer to the ground then I am used to! My Aunt got a good laugh out of that also. It was like I took my feet out of the stirrups and swung off straight to the ground. I had no hang time like I do on my dressage Appy. Even with my few moments of being “special” it was still a wonderful trail ride and I am going to cherish my moments on the open range for a long time to come.
Oh, and if anyone is looking for a place to board in Southern Arizona this is where my aunt and uncle keep their horses. If anyone does cutting in southern Arizona I am sure you know where this is. The horses all looked like they were taken care of very well and we ran into some other boarders who were also very nice. I had a WONDEFUL time pretending to be a cowgirl for a day.