So, I begin at the end - as you've seen through my picture-posts, I'm home from my summer at the ranch. It is hard for me to explain what the ranch means to me, but it means everything. My entire life has been shaped, melded, and profoundly changed by a single place. Sometimes I feel like I've been a puppet, or a pawn, in it's games, other times, I have felt like it was a sanctuary in which I was allowed to grow in peace, and sunshine. So, with this duality in mind - a constant tug of war of good and bad - i've been thinking a lot about the place that raised me.
This summer was hard, in a myriad of different ways, but it was also an amazing summer at the same time. I had the lows, and then highs of losing my horse, and losing my mind about it, and then finding him, and having him home. Nothing is better than being with him.
There were hilarious moments...
During one of our group orientation rides my horse Cash and I were in the river, waiting to get up onto the bank. I was letting someone pass when Cash turned and looked at a muddy cliffside (much like this one in the photo) and thought to himself, "Hey... I could just help Louisa out by climbing this". So he did. Insanity. So, here I am, on my horse, totally vertical - literally holding onto the horn with both of my legs hanging off of his bum, kicking him because either he was going to get up, or fall down on top of me. Realistically, I was more worried he was going to fall on top of me, in the river, and break my new saddle's tree. I bailed at the last minute, and he went down onto his side like a drunkard. He stumbled back up, I still had the reins in my hand, and stumbled up the nice, soft bank, and then looked down at me with a look of, "Uhm, I'm really sorry about that." Poor boy, you can't fault a horse for being too willing, can you? Both of us walked away unharmed, and I am happy to say that was my worst "wreck" of the summer.
There were tough moments, attempting to run the barn without the guidance of my FHGM was hard, and really tested me - my confidence, my abilities (or lack thereof), my patience... In the end I walked away feeling stretched pretty thin, and pretty battered and abused. However, in situations where you are highly stressed, but still functioning, and proud of the things you accomplished; you learn, you grow and you change. This summer changed me in many ways.
The ranch is so full of beauty, as you probably saw in those photos, but I can't really convey the perfection of some of our rides, how perfect and crystal clear the water at the springs tastes, how amazing life is out there.
Finally, the friends....
Somewhere, between sharing dorm rooms, sharing rides, sharing everything, as corny as this sentence is, I found a family in a bunch of misfits thrown together that loved the same things as me. My life has changed so drastically since I met so many of these wonderful people that I can't bear to think about life without them. I've struggled with maintaining friendships the last couple of years, I'm selfish by nature. I like to spend a lot of time alone, and I like to be busy - with jobs, school, activities, and when i'm not busy, I like people to seek me out, or I choose to be alone. That is a really horrible trait. Somehow, I've found people that come hell or high water continue to be my friends, through everything. I've found people that I can talk to for hours, and hours, and hours. I've found people that like my photos of Jingle, that like to talk to me about my horse, even if they also think i'm crazy - they allow me to share my passion, and that means the world to me.
So many of the people i've met through the ranch have influenced me, made me laugh, spent hours talking to me, had amazing, memorable, unforgettable times with. However, there are a handful of people there that are my absolute best friends - the type of people you want your kids to call "Aunty and Uncle" because they are so wonderful, and you want your kids to grow up under the gaze of such amazing people. It still stuns me that in the entire world, I was able to find so many friendship-soulmates at a tiny little ranch, at the end of Grand Valley Road. I am blessed, and am bettered by them.
Honestly, I still don't like how the words have assembled themselves in this post, i've only scratched the surface, and I can't seem to convey anything deeper than that. I think, in life, there are some things that words will just never be able to explain.
Thank you. A million times over. To the people, who created the place, that defined me.
& finally, the whole purpose of this blog, I figure between taking the kids out for trail rides - 6 weeks straight, riding my own boy, chasing horses, searching for horses, losing horses, and everything in-between, I probably rode over 200 hours, so out of the two months I was there - 8 full days were spent in the saddle. Pretty cool! So, to leave the sad, mushy stuff behind - here's too a pretty amazing, eventful summer, that allowed me to spend over 200 glorious hours, horseback. What is better than that?!