The weather is crisp with a nice breeze. The horses are as excited as the riders.. but no worries.. If any of the horses are acting a bit silly, we can warm up in the covered riding arena before we take out to the open fields!
Our beloved family friend, Father Joseph is on hand to give thanks to the Lord for such a wonderful occasion. He will bless each of us, our horses and our adventures! My heart swells with appreciation and excitement!
Are we all ready? A shift of position here and a last minute girth adjustment there and we all make eye contact, smile and nod at one another...
We line up and walk through the barn and out into the back pastures. Each horse pricks its ears, raising their heads a bit to observe the surroundings. A whinny and nicker are heard as the horses whisper to one another...
As we get a bit further away from the barn, the world just opens up. I hear one of the girls from the middle say 'let's go'! I agree, we start to spread out enough to be comfortable and move out into a nice canter. The wind brushes around my face and I think I shall never stop smiling!
Each area is set up for an option to either jump or simply canter around so everyone is comfortable. We all stay relatively close .. and as the day goes on, friendships develop that will last a lifetime. We randomly walk as we get to know one another. I get to learn about the struggles Laura has as she is trying to persuade the American Quarter Horse Association to let her show riding aside as she learns how difficult it has been for me to compete against astride riders. Elly brought a Paso Fino and has regaled us with so many wonderful stories of her riding expositions. Laughter is as common a sound as the birds song.
We encounter wildlife .. a bunny scurries out of the thicket and a duck paddles to the opposite side of a pond as we ride by. Grace is the only one who remembered to bring her camera along. I do hope she took some good pictures for us all to enjoy!
As the afternoon comes to a close and we start to head back to the barn..I shut my eyes for a moment. I draw in a deep breath hoping to imprint it all into my memory for life... for this day has been so surreal that it almost feels more like a painting than reality.
The ladies get a bit quiet as we walk back into the barn. Although the weekend has just begun, we did not want this ride to end. The horses however, have earned some rest in warm deeply bedded stalls and a rack full of fresh green alfalfa!..not before getting bathed though. The grooms await to take each of them here.... to the wash stalls, where both hot and cold running water are available, along with an ample rub down!