Posted by: Waheeda Harris | July 9, 2012

Slow ride

I grew up in British Columbia’s interior – the Thompson Okanagan region – and cowboys were a common sight to me as a kid.

I knew many a kid who grew up on a cattle ranch, leaving highschool to make their way in life working as ranch hands to earn the money to buy their own land.

But I never learned to ride.

I used to go regularly with friends on trail rides, riding older horses who followed each other placidly along the trail, lured by the knowledge they would be fed and rewarded for traversing the same path every day.

Presented with the option to go riding on the Zapata Ranch in southern Colorado, not far from Great Sand Dunes National Park, I admitted my beginner status and got on a horse. But this was no planned trail ride.

We were on the open range of the ranch – where all you can see is the green grass, purple wildflowers and distant mountains. The horses were happily directed in any which way – but not on one path.

And the view was spectacular – and I sneaked a few photos despite trying to maintain control of the reins of my horse. I enjoyed the slight rocking feeling as we traversed the lands, in search of the bison herd.

Soon our guides wanted to know who wanted to go faster and who wanted to slow down – and I chose to stay slow. To meander and enjoy and ignore the pressure to ride like the wind. I didn’t have the skill and was happy to keep to a placid pace.

We headed back to our starting point, and I was glad after almost three hours, to stand on the ground, thanking my horse for being good to me and showing me a small part of the ranch.

I had no desire to ride the open range like a wild western, and my speed demon was kept well inside that day.

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