Yup. I’m sunburned and sore… but fat (lots of food here) and happy!
It is now Day 2 and I’m beginning to get the swing of things.
You see, I am THE ONLY ONE here who hasn’t been to the R Lazy S previously. Hmmm. That’s saying something, eh? Out of the 36 guests this week, I am the only newbie. In fact, a few of the families here have been coming here, during this same week every August, for over 30 years.
So everyone knows each other and knows the ranch drill – except me.
I watch a lot… and orbit around the outside… which is kinda how I am anyway – so it is perfect.
One observations… I gotta say, the employees here are drinking happy juice or something… they are all beyond accommodating and answer all of my questions with that early morning genuinely happy smile you only get at Starbucks.
For example, I just marginally complained about my pillow this morning (sounds so vain now…) and Voila! – A softer pillow arrived at my door. I felt a bit sheepish but I took it…
OK, anyway, I’m getting off topic. Let me tell you about Day 2!
I had set my alarm for 7:15 because breakfast was at 7:30. (Yes, I know… cutting it close…).
But, instead I woke up around 6:30.
Brrrrrr. Who turned on the refrigerator last night? OMG. The room was freezing. Yes, Dorothy, we are in Wyoming – clearly!
So I hopped out of bed, turned on the floor heater and made my pot of fresh coffee (no packages – nice).
Outside, some woodland creature was calling an auction or something…
Chatterchattachattersquuuuuuueeeeek, chatterchatter CHHHHATTER, squeeeak! (run furiously around the cabin, climb up the sidewalls, run across the roof and then repeat!)
Finally, I had to look and see what in the heck was going on and as I peered out my front curtain, there was his little fuzzy butt, careening down my front path and across the footpath to wake up the neighbors.
I pulled on my sweats, washed up and poured a mug.
Hmmmm, I said to myself. It is really, really pretty out there (understatement). I should take a photo.
So, I stepped outside with boots and no socks to take a pic. As I was stumbling around, trying to find the sweet spot with the exact right lighting, the old ranch truck drove by.
It stopped, backed up and the window crank rolled down.
“Wanna come with us as we run the horses in?”, said the head wrangler sent out from Central Casting, I’m sure…
Me: OK! (not having any idea what I was agreeing to), Sure!
So, I hopped in the truck and we ambled down the lovely interior ranch road, towards where the 75 pardners were grazing for the night.
RUNNING THE HORSES IN
Head Wrangler Dan (from Central Casting) showed me how they bring in the horses, daily, from whichever pasture they were gobbling the night before.
Pretty easy, really… the trick is to close the gates where you don’t want them to go… and open the gates where you do. Then, put a truck in the way of the other escape route and add a wrangler on a saddlehorse “Whoop Whoooping” behind them.
Wrangler Dan: Count ’em, wouldja?
WD: Shud be 75, I think.
And then they all came… not quite thundering down the pasture, but ambling quickly.
WD: Rocky, Cisco, Duke, Tequila… (he’s calling them by name as they come through the gate).
I’m just trying to keep count. I haven’t had my coffee yet and I’m a bit fuzzy.
WD: OK, that’s all of ’em. Let’s get back.
So that was my introduction to the 75 horses who live in luxury, against the spectacular background and are all fat and happy.
Oh yeah, another tidbit… as WD was driving us back to the ranch, we passed a herd of horses.
WD: Those are the Rockefeller horses.
Me: (using my best nonchalant “oh really…” humph voice) MMMMmmm hmmmmm.
YUP, we aren’t in Kansas anymore…
The bell rang and we all went to breakfast. I was still wearing my sweats…
The meal was Lovely. Good. Tasty… so much variety.
We all sat at the family style tables which makes everyone get to know everyone else – and in this case, since everyone else already knew everyone else – it was them getting to know ME!
And then, after breakfast, it was time for Rider Orientation.
I had decided to wear what I would normally wear on a trailride. Comfortable in a yoga class sort of way. I wear tights with deerskin inserts, half chaps (well worn), layers of tech fabric wicking tops and a helmet.
Needless to say, no one else looked like me. But, then again, no one else looked like anybody. Only the Wranglers looked like each other.
The guests had varying riding abilities. Two of the sisters had grown up eventing. That was a bit intimidating.
I figured they knew what they were doing…
Everyone else was pretty much, been there/done that, so I just went with the flow and watched…
Susan, the been there/done that woman wrangler who has worked here for over 30 years, gave the orientation to the kids and the newbie – me.
I listened and she cracked me up.
It was like having Ellen DeGeneres and Annie Oakley all wrapped up in one cowgirl package. I smiled throughout her schpeel. She got her points across (horse safety) to all the kids through humor and I totally appreciated her.
When it was my turn to mount, I met up with a lovely mare named, Splash. She looked at me with dewey eyes. She seemed very kind.
And then the ride started.
First, we had to trot in the outdoor ring.
I haven’t been in a Western Saddle since the last time I was in a Western Saddle and I cannot remember when that was.
To say I’m not comfortable in a Western Saddle would be kind…
I held the reins wrong, I posted and I didn’t give the right cues. However, we did it. Splash and I graduated onto the majestic trails.
But… as we were riding, I couldn’t help but feel that she was not having a good day. She seemed very unenthusiastic. Yes, she crossed water perfectly, yes she went through mud perfectly, yes she crossed a narrow wooden bridge… but she wasn’t happy.
I felt badly for her.
So, when the 2 hour initiation ride was over, I talked to WD.
ME: She did everything right, but she just seemed… not into it.
WD: Really? Most people who ride her want to take her home.
ME: (feeling sheepish and like a failure for not wanting to ride the horse that everyone else wants to take home.) Well, in my gut I think I’d like to try another horse for the afternoon ride.
WD: Sure thing! I’ll give you Sky. He’s an Arab, brand new here, young and has a lot of GO. The only thing is that he doesn’t like to stand still…
Me: Ummmmmm.. OK, sounds good.
Gulp. I had never ridden an Arab.
As we were all milling about post-ride, pre-lunch, I had mentioned that I had a sore throat and thought I might be catching a cold.
Well, a lovely couple from New Hampshire (most of the guests were from the East Coast) jumped at the opportunity to give me several packets of EmergenC and some Zicam.
They’d been here before (25 times) and clearly had thought this packing thing through… and were very gracious to try to make sure I didn’t get sick and not be able to enjoy the ‘best week of the year’.
Lunch was wonderful, quite filling and way more than I needed after that breakfast.
Afterwards, I ran back to my room to clean up and prepare for Sky,
While organizing myself, I was tracked down by the owner of the R Lazy S. It seemed that my request for sunglasses was heard. There, before me, was a pair of sunglasses so that my squinty self could continue the week without going blind.
Thunder and Lightening.
I walked over to the barn as I was being drizzled upon and I asked if they rode in these conditions.
But inside I was reliving the Radio warning I had heard just the day before from the Weather people of Casper.
“GO INSIDE, THE GODS ARE ANGRY.”
Sigh. I trusted the wrangler and figured that they had probably done this before…
My afternoon mount was the Arab Cross named, Sky.
He came to me with Zinc Oxide schmeared all over his muzzle. The poor boy had been sunburned.
WD told me that Sky was new this year and was having trouble fitting in… He hadn’t made many friends in the herd. But, he was a good horse, full of pep and he was honest.
He’s a newbie, too?!
We should be a good fit, I thought. We had something in common. Perhaps we could bond… I placed my mouth near his cream caked muzzle and blew.
SKY: WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR LUNCH?
ME: Mostly veggies, why?
SKY: Just wondering… so, are you going to ride me.
SKY (fidgeting): Well, let’s hurry!! Let’s go! I hate to stand around.
ME: I AGREE!
And we were off!
Never in my life have I ridden an Arab nor a white horse. And, today, I was riding a white Arab.
And it was very fine.
I liked him, a lot.
We rode past so much beautiful country, I just kept pinching myself. The streams, the mountains, the quaking aspens… lovely.
And he was into it.
As for me, I loved it all except the trotting. I could do without that Gatling gun.
How in the samhill does one trot in a Western Saddle without getting the bejeezus shook out of him?
I posted, I sat, I two-pointed. Nothing was comfortable.
But, whatever… we were a team and I told him he was a “good boy” – because he was.
And tomorrow, I get him again. We are going on an all day ride to somewhere. I signed up and I really have no idea for what… but it is all day and it has to be good. How could it not be great?
Previous to dinner, I sat on the porch swing of my cabin (yes, I have a porch swing). Hummingbirds zoomed by as that dang ground squirrel ran around collecting the nuts he would undoubtedly barter in the early morning hours.
I then walked around, in a bit of a daze, wondering how anyone could live here and not pinch themselves black and blue.
Another scrumptious meal was served, family style, and the families brought lovely wine to the tables for all to share. We told stories and got to know each other. All the servers called me by my name. Nice touch.
Kelly, the owner, stood up and made a very comical announcement about goings on and then presented a belt buckle to one guest who had reached the 10 times mark.
With cheesecake on my lips and a little bit of wine in my glass, I tottered back to my cabin while the rest of the group watched the kids play a rousing game of kickball on the huge, pristine lawn.
Life, at this very moment, is good. Really good.
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