Monday morning was an "orientation" with your horse. You rode the same horse all week. Up until this time I had never sat in a Western saddle (if you don't know the difference between Western and English go here http://www.equisearch.com/horses_riding_training/training/beginning_rider/english_western102200a/ )
But over all it was pretty similar. I think my biggest obstacle was new horse, can I control him? And after a couple of runs, he was awesome!!
My horse was a black combo of Tennessee Walker and Quarter Horse. Simply put - he was a great horse for me. His name is Nate, but I called him Nate Dogg after that West Coast Hip Hop artist. And just like the real Nate Dogg, Nate was cool, chill and easy going. But instead of smoking grass, he just kept eating it. :) We spent Monday on 2 trail rides. The morning one we had an encounter with 2 coyotes and they were NO WHERE as big as New England coyotes, so I didn't feel threatened at all. Then Monday afternoon, Tanya (our guide) Mum and I went on a trail ride and I got to do a couple of nice controlled canters on Nate. Horseback riding is all about being in CONTROL.
Monday night was a tour of the Lazy Daisy Ranch about a half hour away from Bonanza Creek. So all vacationers packed up in the back of this old pickup truck and cruised around this ranch. They had bison, horses, cows, llamas, sheep, chicken, ducks, peacocks and God knows what else. It was taking a little critter cruise. I wish I had brought a bottle of wine, that would have made it complete :)
See those tiny dots on top of the hill? That's pronghorn, North America's only antelope! I was so excited to see these guys ( I'm I wildlife geek, what can I say?) and had only seen them on TV up until this point. The pronghorn's defense is that they stay in large numbers and as far away from you as possible. As you can see here, they were succeeding.
Tuesday morning we did a trail ride into the woods to a campsite and had breakfast in the woods. Nothing like sitting among the wilds of the woods eating bacon! Then we did a trail in the woods along the actual Bonanza creek and did see a red tailed hawk pretty close up. Then the party divided in 2, those who wanted to gallop up the hill, those who didn't and took the low road home. Yes, I went with the gallopers!! It wasn't the speed that really got to me, but Nate's take off and the amount of power this animal was using to lunge himself up a hill was mind blowing. I just held on!
Tuesday we did some cattle penning. This was a TON of fun! We had about 14 or so cattle in the corral and the object of the game was to break 3 head off the herd and move them to the opposite side of the corral. Mum, myself and another vacationer, Joe, were the only ones who succeeded!
Wednesday morning was another lovely trail ride. The weather was cloudy and in the 40's and it felt more like October than August. I did see 2 whitetail on this trail ride as well. We bumped into 2 cowboys that were on dirt bikes herding some bulls. They needed 2 bulls pushed into another pasture and since it was on our way, our guide got them going and we pushed them for quite some time. I learned all about breeding black Angus that morning. These boys had some serious "jewels" on them LOL
Wednesday night was a wagon ride to the Hunting Camp. I got to steer the horses on the wagon too and it's not as easy as you might think. Saw a couple of mule deer on the ride as well. The hunting camp was very cool and the guys who organized it were awesome. They had beer, wine and a roast turkey dinner waiting for us! Then after dinner and dessert (peach cobbler and homemade ice cream) they sat around the camp fire and played guitars and sang some country tunes. I'm not a fan of country music but after a couple of beers, I was singing too.
After being at the top we rode down to the hunting camp, the same one where we had dinner the night before. Here we gave the horses and ourselves a much needed break!
Friday morning was herding 150+ head of cattle into another pasture. We each had to gather about a dozen or so head and then meet up at the pond with our herds. The small groups were scattered all over the property. This is a lot harder than you might think. Chasing cows through bushes and trotting over some rocky terrain. I have so much respect for cowboys now! When I got back home, I guy that I work out with, who is also vegan, asked me if I ever thought guilty about eating beef after being with these cows and um, no not at all. In fact, we ate so much beef that week and it was sooooo goooooood every time!
Friday afternoon was a small trail ride and then it was time to say goodbye to our horses.
After untacking and brushing them down, we led them into the pasture (40 square miles) and let them go off and be with the other horses. Bonanza has about 60 horses and after a week of riding they're then given a week off and another bunch will be gathered to work. As you can see from the picture below, I think they knew it was Friday too.
So thanks to Bonanza Creek, my Mum and my horse, Nate for such a wonderful week. I can guarantee that I will be doing this again!
For more pictures visit my Flickr site http://www.flickr.com/photos/11087728@N03/sets/72157624628393309/
For more info about Bonanza Creek Country go here http://www.bonanzacreekcountry.com/