Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saddle Up Your Horses

The song "The Great Adventure" by Steven Curtis Chapman was dubbed our trip's theme song.

Saddle up your horses we've got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace
Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other - this is The Great Adventure

Come on get ready for the ride of your life
Gonna leave long faced religion in a cloud of dust behind
And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored
This is what we were created for

We'll travel over, over mountains so high
We'll go through valleys below
Still through it all we'll find that
This is the greatest journey that the human heart will ever see
The love of God will take us far beyond our wildest dreams


Goodness, what an adventure it was! Thursday morning started off bright and early and I was a bundle of nerves as we loaded our last few things then fetched the horses. But my sister steadily drove our precious cargo on the longest freeway haul she's ever done, and got us safely over the mountain to our destination.

It was sunny and hot and we quickly found the boarder pens and put up our horses with their buckets of water and a flake of hay. Then we lounged in the shade by the pool and waited for everyone else to arrive.


We slept in tipis. Four of my cousins and I stayed in one called The Spotted Fawn. They were on raised wooden platforms and had cozy twin beds in them with wool camp blankets and down throws.

The tipis were out in the dry pine forest, a five minute drive up on the ridge from the ranch. We were in a naturalistic setting. I fell asleep each night under a full moon, to the sound of cicada and owls and coyotes, and awoke to the sounds of ravens and shrews rustling in the dry leaves around the camp. Every night we checked our beds for spiders and snakes and all things creepy crawly. One morning a chipmunk ventured halfway down a tipi pole.


We had at least at least two horse events planned a day, one of them being a themed and costumed trail ride. We did not plan for the weather. It was 104 degrees on Saturday and 101 on Sunday. What does this mean for horses and riders? Unbearable. Hot, hotter, and hotter still!

My Boy and I dressed for the "vintage cowgirl" ride.

Many of us wondered why we felt like we had heatstroke and red faces and headaches and couldn't stand the thought of saddling a horse if our lives depended on it. A few rides were postponed or cancelled, or some riders opted out. Hot weather riding tip: soak bandannas in ice water, ring them out slightly, and tie them around your neck to help keep yourself cool!

The few trail rides we did venture on led us on dusty paths up onto the ridge, through meandering pines. We crossed far back onto the property and into open territory and saw alpine meadows. We spotted numerous deer and at one point came across what we thought was a small herd of horses grazing in the trees, only to discover they were elk. They moved off quietly but not before our horses caught their scent and raised their heads and pricked their ears.

Returning to the ranch after a ride.


One event was an extreme trail course that we set up in the arena. Riders had to put on a rain slicker, back through an "L" of poles on the ground, shake a bag of cans, walk up to a blown up cactus (think Cinco de Mayo party display) and move rings from one arm to the other, back through barrels, walk over snakes (foam noodles) a tarp, and through hula hoops. My Boy did well and we placed 4th in this event (yes, we had ribbons! And trophies! Oh my!)

Another event was the pink pony breast cancer ride, to honor those in our family that have passed away from cancer. Because it was so hot and we had to wait until evening, we ran out of daylight to do both a ride and the trail course, so we combined them and rode in our pink outfits for the trail event.

Sunday morning started early with a heaven-sent cloud cover in the sky that kept things cooler for our rodeo. Many of us intended to trot our horses through the course (ahem, like this Pony Girl) but when we discovered there were both trot and lope events, we decided to see how the trot ones went and then, well, maybe we'd try the loping. As you can probably guess, most of us ended up loping! Nothing like a little cowgirl courage and competitive spirit during a rodeo to get even the novice horse riders crying "yah!" and galloping home. Yep, me and My Boy even did a lope/trot combination for most events. We placed 4th in Pole Bending/lope, barrel racing/lope, and the barrel racing/trot. We placed 5th in the champagne glass ride and the pole bending/trot. In the egg and spoon ride we placed 2nd. I even loped My Boy while holding an egg on a spoon! I was so proud of myself and my choppy loper. But our big victory was in the keyhole race. My spotted speedy boy won this event in 13.8 seconds! I don't know how he did it but I credit his reining training. We loped into the keyhole, stopped on a dime, and spun around and loped out. I really don't remember a thing about our run but someone got it on video camera and I can't wait to see it again.

Congratulating my rodeo boy!

My sister did very well in the gaming events on her Arabian/Paint, Brandy, which was a completely new and unexplored territory for this quick little mare. In fact, they did so well that she collected the most points and won the Rodeo Princess trophy of the weekend! My sister even got a tiara!

We had intended to paint our ponies for the cowgirls and Indians ride. I love Appaloosas dressed in native costume. What better horse could I have to paint up with some Native American symbols? Unfortunately, that was the hottest day of the weekend and only a few went on that ride. The rest of us dressed in costume and met the riders up at the tipis for pictures. And when we got back to the ranch, as the sun started to go down behind the ridge, I had my sister take a few pictures of me and my Indian boy. I had even handcrafted him a suede braided cavesson with beads and feathers. I put it on under his halter but it wasn't quite the same effect.


The chuck wagon crew was amazing! We had a little cookhouse to ourselves and were literally rolling into our tipis with full bellies every night. It was hard to eat much during the heat of the day, so by the time we sat outside and ate alfresco by candlelight, we were too ravenous to carry a conversation.

We had lasagna and fresh green beans and garlic bread, blue cheese hamburgers and corn on the cob, and homemade enchiladas and cilantro and lime black beans. Oh, and a cheesecake to die for! Chocolate espresso swirl cheesecake topped with homemade chocolate Merlot sauce (okay, wipe off the drool. Do not even ask for the recipe as I can not give it out my cousin B is a pastry chef and she is hoping to open her own bakery someday.)


Our last morning, we packed ourselves and our horses and hit the road for home, beating the first few drops of a humid summer drizzle. When I unloaded My Boy at home and turned him out into his pasture, he immediately went to his favorite dirt hole and rolled vigorously, then galloped from one end of the pasture to the other in glee, happy for freedom.

The sun has set on our first annual Pony Cousins horse and rider reunion. But without a doubt, this will become an annual event. The time we spent together, both with our beloved horses and our family, was a memorable experience for us all.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.

Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.
Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here's a happy one for you.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.


  1. Too bad about the heat, but it still sounds like you guys had a fantastic time. The food sounded fantastic.

    Congratulations on being brave and loping the barrels!! See, it isn't so hard-LOL. All those ribbons? I see playdays coming into you and My Boy's future. ;)

  2. WOW!! That is quite the amazing weekend. Except for the heat, that sounds like a really fun time. Congrats on the success of you and your sister. Good job!

    Really pretty pictures.

  3. The heat was so terrible that we had to unfortunately cancel some rides. Probably alot of rides.
    I have never been in 100+ temps before and I never want to be in that hot of weather again. I hate rain but when we got home and it started raining I didn't care that all I had on was a tank top! (Oh, I did have jeans on, I just didn't care about a jacket!) It felt so good. I am sure the horses were enjoying it as well. And it is still raining.
    It was a wonderful trip even though we didn't get to do everything that was planned. There will always be another trip.
    I am very proud of my Arab Brandy for stepping up and performing in an event that she has never done before. And she did it WITHOUT crowhopping! I also never planned on loping any event but once we got out there I couldn't resist. It brought back memories of me on my Appaloosa Kitkat, whom I used to barrel race on, back in the days when I wanted to be a professional barrel racer!

  4. What a fun trip you had! Heat and all! When I figured out just where you were going, I was envious! I love that part of the state! Maybe next year won't be so hot for you all & you will get more rides in. Congrats to you and My Boy for your wins!

  5. Wow - sounds like you guys had a fantastic time even with the heat! What a fun way to spend time with your extended family. It is great that you guys went to effort to organize a mini-rodeo with all of those fun games.

    Sounds like your boy was a star as well!

  6. I have to admit the food has me entranced...dealing with heat like that is so hard, but just having been in it is good conditioning. Beautiful sleeping quarters! I'm so glad you had a good time and your horses were stars!

  7. What an awesome adventure. No doubt it will become an annual event. Such memories now and more to come.

    BTW Steven Curtis Chapman is from Paducah, Kentucky where I work and used to live. I can't say that I know him though!

  8. I have ridden in that kind of heat before and afterwards wondered how in the heck I was able to do that. You are correct about the bandanas. I wear one around my neck and also put one around my wrist in order to wipe sweat off. My husband is always amazed when he sees me riding in that type of heat. But you gals know too well, when you love something you do what it takes, even if you have to go a bit slower!

  9. Nothing like that blasted heat to mess with horsey plans! It sounds like you had a blast! Congrats on the key hole win!

  10. How absolutely inspiring. Can I be you & MyBoy when I grow up?

    That's neat!

  11. That sounds really amazing - and I am so jealous of the scenery you got to ride in - very special.

  12. Sounds like you all had a great time dispite the heat! Of course I'm used to that kind of weather here!

    You go cowgirl! I knew you could do it and winning ribbons woo hoo! I agree with BECG play days here she comes!

    BTW-the question about ground tying your horse. This is how I do it~I ride in spilt reins, standing on the ground, I take the closest rein to me and drop it on the ground, tell the horse to stay, then move away from the horse. Start slowly increasing your distance, I also walk around them as well. If they move or want to follow you, start the whole process over. Take baby steps till you have worked up to the distance you like. I go back pick up the rein and give them lovings and praise. Good luck~I know you and My Boy can do it!

  13. What gorgeous scenery! Welcome back, Pony Girl!

  14. I think I need one of those tipis for a guest house.

    Traveling with horses can be a real challenge - glad everybody made it there and back safe and sound. You and your family are such planners...trophies, theme rides, menus...perhaps you and your sister should hire yourselves out to organize these get-togethers for others.

  15. My Auntie J was the "Trail Boss." She and her daughter were the key organizers and should get most of, if not all of, the credit! They had to purchase and haul the poles, pop-up barrels, trail course props, order the ribbons, etc. My sister and I were the trail boss assistants and came up with some of the playday games. But they did most of the work. And it was A LOT of work! My aunt has gladly passed the torch on to my cousin Jac next year. We will have to have a rodeo because someone will want to try to snag that Rodeo Queen tiara from my sister! ;) Right, Jac?

  16. What a beautiful place, and it was HOT wasn't it???
    I love the picture of you patting your rodeo Boy on the neck.

    You guys were really organized...ribbons and trophy's??!! How neat is that??!!!

    Too bad it was so hot though. I really wanted to see My Boy and Brandy all blinged out...lol!!!

  17. One more thing....I am usually the picture snapper at all events! I took a lot of pictures, but not nearly as many as I wanted. I'm telling you, the heat literally shut down my body. Looking back, I can't figure out why I didn't do all the things I wanted to do. I was really upset I didn't trail ride more. It's easy to wonder that when you are back home in 60 degree temps and rain. But at the time, it was physically impossible and probably better than I didn't risk sun or heat stroke. Also, I probably baby him a bit, but My Boy is not acclimated to that kind of heat either and I didn't want him to get overheated.

  18. That sounded like so much fun!!! You're a lucky gal. Thanks for sharing your adventure story with us and the great photos. Will there be a video posted? :)

  19. That looks like a blast!!! Great pics and a good time had by all.
    I need to go do that!!

  20. Thanks for sharing your trip and story! Did your new chaps make you hotter?

  21. I loved it all!! I want to go! The sleeping accomodations were so cool! The food sounded fun and all that horsey fun!! I wish I had horsey family members!! I would love to go on a trip like that!

    Congrats on loping!! That is a really big step! Good job!! And he should have rocked that key hole event, go reiner!!! I bet he sure can sit and spin!!

    I am glad you had a great time and I am glad you are back!

  22. I only wore the chinks for the first part of the rodeo, the morning it was overcast and a lot cooler. But by 11 a.m. the clouds burned off and I peeled them off (literally! :)

  23. Wow, your appy is stunning. The DOR says that appy butts drive her nuts.
    Nice blog

  24. Hey girl, I am the offical Trailboss....lol Just kidding of course. It is easy to think of what I should have/could have done when you are back inside and cooled down. Like you said, My Boy is not used to that weather and you were wise to not push him. You are a good horsey mommy!

  25. Glad you're home again. I missed reading your blog and seeing pics of My Boy.

    Those tipis look spartan but much bigger inside than I imagined. And they look cozy. I bet some wonderful conversations were shared each night inside :)

    I almsot didn't recognize you in your costumes. You looks so cute. But I can always find My Boy. He is one stand-out horse.

    Congrats on all the wins. What a fabulous team you two are. I figured you all would get first place with how much My Boy loves his tarps. hehe

    Congrats to Paint Girl and Brandy for the special win, too. I bet she looked beautiful in her tiera!
    Did Brandy get to wear one ,too?

    Chocolate espresso swirl cheesecake topped with homemade chocolate Merlot sauce ........
    I am going to pass out in envy and dreamy thoughts about that lucious cheesecake!

  26. You better believe I'm coming after that tiara! Even if I have to rig some events! Don't you think it would be cool to do a perpetual trophy or plaque with each rodeo queen's reign etched on it? We have a guy who does trophies for moto x, and he does really nice work and for a fraction of the cost because we give him so much business. I might look into that for next year.

    I'm getting very excited for our next get-together...if we can ever pick a date!

  27. Excellent post Pony Girl! Thanks for sharing your Pony Cousin weekend. I love the photos and see... You and My Boy are very photogenic! :)

  28. Welcome Home Cowgirl!

    Looks like you all had a BLAST, despite the heat there. Glad you didnt run into any bears ;)

  29. Oh I'm so jealous!!! it sounds and looks like you had a great time. Your just missing one thing, me and my appy! J/K.

    Glad that it was fun and it looks like you had a blast. I love the sleeping quarters, looks like something that I could enjoy.

  30. OMG! That sounds like an absolute blast! Hot weather and all! Oh what fun!

  31. Your camp trip looks amazing! So well organized and the tents are too cool. Thanks for sharing! Too bad about the heat. I melt in the sun and would not have lasted an hour out in that heat. I went camping too from Mon-Wed but we had nice cool weather. Are you'all planning another trip sometime soon? It would be nice to go in the fall.

  32. What a great weekend! I envy you your close family ties.

    I'm not a cheesecake fan, however, THAT one sounds devine - chocolate, espresso, and Merlot. Yum-E!

  33. Even with the heat, sounds like a fabulous time. What a cool weekend.

    Your chaps look great in the rodeo event pictures, and what a cool tenting experience!

  34. What a great family and what a great week-end - I wish I'd been there - Even with the heat, you managed to enjoy yourselves. Good thing that you took it easy with My Boy, but he sounds like a rodeo champ in the making. Love the photos!

  35. Sounds like you guys had a fab time (other than the heat!)
    Congrats to Paint Girl & Brandy :)

  36. Hey, Pony Girl - you got some great photos! You have a real artistic eye when it comes to selecting your shots. You and My Boy did great on the trail rides and the arena events. I think that he is just a great horse for you. And i like his quiet nature around the other horses. What do we get to plan next?

  37. Wow you will need a vacation to rest from your vacation!! How fun and congrats on your wins! I am glad you didn't dehydrate! What a memorable time! I love those tepees!! And your jammies!! Glad you had a safe trip and are back home safe and sound!

  38. Great pics of a what sounds to be a wonderful trip/event. You do look like a vintage cowgirl with the belly-tied shirt and bandana. Will you borrow your sis’ tiara one day??? LOL
    Congrats on the loping/trot you did. Sounds like way too much fun. I would love to do this once in my life. I will place this on my wish list!
    Oh, And I want a chuck wagon crew here at my home every day when I get home from work… hehehe
    Thank you so much for sharing, I loved this post and the pics!
    Happy horsin’ around!


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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