I’ve been horse crazy since I was a kid. With long blonde hair, I pretended to be a Palomino. And my bedroom was full of plastic horse figurines. They were collectables, ya know.
When we went to our Camp as kids, my sisters and I would gallop stick horses through the pines, whinnying and tossing our manes. We’d even snort, paw the ground and rear up on our hind legs. I found my horse fix any way I could get it!
That’s why it was such a treat when my sister, during a recent family reunion, asked me to go horseback riding. We drove up to Poncha Pass near Salida, Colorado and pulled in at Granite Mountain Outfitters. A nice lady named Sue is the owner.
It’s been years since I’ve ridden. In fact, the last time it was mosquito season and we herded cows through the sage and all over the ranch. I couldn’t sit down for days.
Anyway, we told them about our riding experience and my sister was paired with a quarter horse named LeRoy. I ended up with Houdini…
Now, before you go and get all judgmental on me, you should know that Houdini was one talented critter, fully capable of opening any gate. In fact, we were told that Houdini recently opened seven gates and let out so many cattle it took hours to round them all up.
So I swung into the saddle and sat proudly upon my mule.
And off we went with our personable guide, Andrew.
Just us and the great outdoors! We rode through meadows with wildflowers, tall stands of aspen and an old logging camp. No stress and no noise.
Except for my mule. He liked to groan. He did it trudging up the hills and he did it when “nature called.” No braying. No snorting. Just groaning.
But he was sure-footed as a goat.
When we got to the mountain top, our guide took pictures of us from every angle.
Then my sister’s horse took a selfie.
On our way down, there was more groaning. This time it was from me.
“Um, Andrew? How much longer till we’re back at the ranch?”
Bones in my bottom were competing for attention with the spectacular scenery. The late afternoon sun lit up a few deer butts on a distant hill, like spotlights in the sage.
Everything glowed. I wanted to bottle it.
Then all at once, our two and a half hours were over. I dismounted my mighty steed and dropped to the ground with legs quivering like jello.
It was one of the most memorable rides of my life. The good folks at Granite Mountain Outfitters gave is a little piece of heaven that day.
I got my horse fix — on a mule.
And I tossed my mane a little as we drove away.