As many of you know… Hubby and I have been trying to move down to the Paso Robles/San Luis Obispo, CA area for a while now. Hubby works down there and either he or I drive the 5 hours (one way) to meet up each weekend.
Well, over this time of house hunting, I’ve met a few people in the area and managed to get onto an email list for The Work Ranch.
The below mailer came to my inbox. Hmmm. This might be a good way to meet some local horse people while donating to a horse charity – double bonus! So, I made the decision to drive down to Paso Robles on Valentine’s Weekend!
HORSE TO RIDE?
First, I called the Work Ranch to see if they had a horse for me to ride. They didn’t. So, I figured it was an omen and that I should really spend Valentine’s Day with Hubby and forget about riding.
But then I received an email just this last week saying there had been a cancellation and now a horse was available.
Yee-Haw! I immediately called Hubby to check in and he was totally fine with it. So, I moved things around on my schedule and made plans to go on the Valentine’s Day Benefit Ride!
THE MORNING OF THE RIDE
I was really excited… You know how you get when you haven’t been to a place and you want to make sure you aren’t late and don’t forget anything…? That was me. Checking and rechecking.
I guessed (incorrectly, it turned out) that I’d be the only person in jods and a helmet. I also knew that my gear wouldn’t really match the style of the ranch horse I was given… but so far, I’ve never met a horse who cared what I was wearing so I figured we would be good. No worries.
Personally, I love ranch horses. They are trained better than any of the riding horses I have now (I’m being totally honest with myself here) AND, they know the terrain.
As an aside, I have learned to always rent ranch horses on heavily attended trail rides. It has been my experience that when people bring their own horses to big trail rides, their own horses act very differently than they do at home… I think you all know what I mean. So, you have this big contingency of antsypantsy horses riling up all of the other horses and eventually, there is mayhem. Mayhem, horses and me don’t mix very well…
Once, during this exact kind of mayhem, I was on a ranch horse. I was the only one on a ranch horse. All the other people were stressing and blowing neck arteries, and I was fine. My horse was as cool as a cucumber. And from that day forward, I have always asked for a ranch horse on big ranch rides. It just makes sense to me.
Anyway, I was excited, to say the least! I really wanted to ride in the hills of the Central CA range, take in the sights, feel the history and relax – on a calm horse.
THE WORK RANCH
I had driven past the ‘Work Ranch’ sign on several of our house hunting expeditions. It is up Hog Canyon – fun name, huh?! Anyway, Hog Canyon is very beautiful. The roads are windy with rolling hills and oaks. My favorite.
But, I had never actually been to the ranch.
When I arrived, I knew the ride would be good. I was a half an hour early, and every thing was already in place, all the horses were ready to go and the truck parking people, registration people and vendors were all set and ready. All very good signs.
I was given a 20 year-old mustang named, Hank. I was totally fine with that. I figured he had been there, done that… and he was exactly what I wanted. Besides, he was short. I am short. We fit. PS: Bonus… they let me use my saddle!
I forgot to take Hank’s photo (Sorry, Hank, my bad)! Once it was time to go, it all happened fast. Everyone mounted and entered the HUGE arena (did I say, HUGE?!.. It is H-U-G-E.). There were 35+ horses in the arena and I didn’t feel any of them. Wow. I swear someone landed a plane while we were in there but I couldn’t be certain.
Anyway, they made an announcement that there would be two rides: One in the hills and one on the flats. We could choose. So, I waiting to see which ride had the most people, and then went on the other one. Hank and I ended up on the flats with only 5 other riders. Very Nice!
(Time lapse relayed in the photos below.)
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay after the ride for the lunch portion because I had to drive back to Grass Valley. But, I had a swell time garnering information about the area and meeting a few very gracious people. Exactly what the Doctor ordered.