It seems winter may have begun to move in here in the northern panhandle of Idaho at the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. It is a beautiful day from where I sit here at my kitchen table, warm and cozy. My view of the foothills of the Cabinet Mountain Range and the valley full of the ranch pasture land is missing one thing today: the horses. Our herd of 50+ horses just made their last run up the county road from the field to the barn for the winter. They are all tucked away in their winter housing close to the barns and an abundant supply of hay. Bringing the horses in from their summer pastures marks the official end of the riding season on the ranch. For me, it is more bitter than sweet because it means very little time in the saddle for the next few months. Thankfully the ranch has an indoor arena that makes winter riding possible when it isn't housing sleighs for the winter sleigh ride season.
The last few months of horseback riding have been very different from any other time I have spent on horseback. I have been riding for as long as I can remember. Before I could walk, I rode. I have been happily married to my husband for 7 years and in January we will have been together for 11 years. Landon loves the outdoors. Landon loves climbing to the highest peaks in the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains, biking, hunting, and camping. But for these 11 years, he has not loved horseback riding. Living on a guest ranch, our guests always assume he is a rider, but our response to them is always, "no, he is the technical support and mountain bike maintenance man on the ranch". Sure he would humor me and go for an annual horseback ride just to make me happy, but he didn't enjoy it. He even used some of the stereotypical, anti-horse husband comments like, "I don't have to feed my four-wheeler" and "It's just a dumb horse". Now don't get me wrong, he knew what he was getting into when he married a horse-crazy girl. He has always supported my horse activities and equine profession, but he was never interested in getting into it himself. I also never pushed him to get into the horse "thing" because I knew it just wasn't his thing.
The last few months of horseback riding have been very different from any other time I have spent on horseback because Landon has been with me! Yes, Landon has caught horse fever and he has got it bad. Sometime at the end of September we started riding together and just never stopped. I read a blog once from a horsewoman who said she did not like being in a relationship with a horse person, rather she preferred to date non-horse people. I wholeheartedly do not agree with her. Because of Landon's new found horse habit, we have spent many more hours, together with our children, in the barn and on the trails. I cherish these times together.
For the first two weeks of riding almost every day after work, I was holding my breath, hoping this wasn't just a weird short-lived phase. But the weeks went on and he continued to want to ride with me. Projects at home went unfinished and the cleaning I should have been doing went undone because we were spending so much time at the barn. Then came the day that we bought him his own saddle. It was officially official: my husband was becoming a horseman.
Not only did he have the desire to ride and improve his horsemanship, but he was also good. I don't just say that because I want to get brownie points with him because I know he will read this. He was really, genuinely riding well. Those nearly 11 years of watching all of us on the ranch ride must have soaked in. His hands were soft and quiet, the notorious "heels down" was never an issue, and he seemed to catch the "feel" of each maneuver that I taught him very quickly.
On November 12, we had Jenni Grimmett come out to teach a small, one day Cowboy Dressage Clinic. Landon participated in the clinic with me and although it was frigged cold and my Smokey horse came up lame so I had to switch last minute to my 3-year-old Zeus, it was a wonderful day spent with the love of my life and my horse.
Time in the saddle has slowed down as the colder weather sets in and we must attend to adult responsibilities like collecting firewood. I look forward to many more days that we will spend together with our horses, doing what we love as a family. What more could a girl ask for than two beautiful children, a great man, and a good horse for each of us.
I have always thought that Landon is quite a catch, but now he is the winning combination of quite a catch and quite a horseman.