Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Jessica's Horse Story, Part 1

There is a reason I've ended up in the horse world, being alternately overjoyed and frustrated by this horse of the silly lips.

My daughter (also named Katie) hit the horse-crazy age and even showed a bit in some local Western Pleasure schooling. On our vacations, we would find places to trail ride to accommodate her "phase." I even surprised her once by not falling off when my trail horse reared. My partner Steve loves horses, too. His main riding experience came from - many years ago - exercising grumpy horses owned by people who never rode them.

In late 2003, I found a one-page article in a magazine about a ranch up near Sonora that said they offered something beyond "head-to-tail" trail rides, plus something called cutting you could try. This was right around Christmas the year my darling daughter went from little girl to impossible-to-shop-for young woman and I thought this would be an interesting gift. If all else failed, there were nice hotels and mountains nearby.

Oh, and I wasn't going to ride much, if at all. I was going to sit and relax, read, maybe do some writing.

We got there and wandered around, taking lots of pictures of
cute foals, and then went down to the barn where I thought I'd take some pictures of Steve, Katie and her friend Phoebe before heading back to relax. Katie remembers Ike handing me a set of reins and saying, "Here's your horse." Well, I couldn't very well back out then, could I?

My first Slide trail ride had two particularly memorable moments: Ike saying casually, as we approached the stream, "Put her into a trot, she (Dandy) likes to roll in the water," and the grin on Katie's face as she galloped past me up the trail while I hung onto the saddle horn for dear life.

And why, some might ask, did we stay? Why did we keep going back time after time to ride such wild and crazy horses? Well, after that first trail ride, I met the horse ambassador - Cal's Eclipse. World Champion, gentle, intuitive, and an escape artist. Add that to Kathy Sierra's "I rule" feeling - which happened every time we went up to Slide - and we end up as the proud owners of our very own wild and crazy spotty horse.

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