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Getting back on the horse

Sunday, September 21, 2014

In 1990 a year before Billy Crystal classic film "City Slickers" hit the scene, our family went to a dude ranch outside of Gunnison, Colorado. My sister and I have very formative memories from our week "riding range". We caught and cooked fish, rode horses, had hot breakfast over the fire in the mountains, we square danced, swam in cold rivers, and saw bright stars in the dark mountain sky. Powderhorn Ranch played an important role in our developing our enthusiasm for the great outdoors... and thanks to our dad, we also learned an important lesson about courage.

According to Wikipedia dude ranches (or guest ranches) arose in response to the romanticization of the American West. At a dude ranch westerners were able to visit and enjoy the advantages of western life for a short period of time without needing to risk life and limb. In 1990 the internet wasn't invented and my dad apparently didn't get the memo about not risking life and limb.

Day three was overcast, but we hopped on our horses and headed out for a morning trail ride with several other families. It started to rain and the wranglers instructed us to get the rain jackets that were tied to the back of our saddles. A few of the adults were asked to get off their horses to put them on, as not to spook their horses.

Lightning struck and my dad's horse reared up, he grabbed the reigns and got kicked in the forehead. He fell into the woods. Someone came in a truck to take my mom and dad to the hospital. A wrangler escorted my sister and me back to the barn. We spent the rest of the afternoon with nice woman who was staying in a cabin close to ours.

Sometime after dinner my parents got back. Everyone at the ranch was pretty sure that our family would be done with horseback riding for the week, some people thought we would go home - but the next day my dad swaggered back to the stables with his gauze wrapped head and hopped on a new horse.

It was pretty traumatic experience... but it would have been more traumatic if we had gone home. My dad knew that he needed to "get back on the horse" - if not for himself, for his daughters. We all finished out our week at Powderhorn Ranch with lots of special memories that clouded out the scary ones.

It has been a hard month filled with sad and scary moments... but there have also been lots of "noted moments" - moments that I want to record and remember forever. Like the time that my dad "cursed the damn horse who gave him brain cancer."

There is a lot of laughter and joy happening in this place and it's time for me to "get back on the horse" and start writing again.

1 comment :

  1. It would have been a joyful family visit on a ranch had the lightning struck after you and your dad rode the horses. But then, lo and behold your dad went on and rode another horse the very next day! How brave of him to do that especially after what happened the day before. Thanks for sharing a "noted moments" with us. I hope to read more happy moments from you! Take care!

    Darren Lanphere @