Thanks to a chat with some new friends and a bit of good fotune I got to do something new for the first time, and what will be the last time. Every now and again the ranch would allow people to do a barrel racing lesson although they are stopping that option (hence it being the last time). This isn’t at any significant speed for most of the lesson as it is spent walking or trotting around the barrels. As with most things it’s a lot more complicated than it looks as it combines, changes in balance, direction, looking ahead in advance and reigning hands all while ensuring the horse is going in the direction you want, which isn’t actually towards the barrel, but just off of it so you can kick on at the exit point. Thankfully we had an excellent teacher and everyone came in completing the pattern at a time of around 30 seconds (much longer than she would take though!)
Having been busy riding I have got around to picking up my visit pin for this trip. I think its fair to say that 11 visits in 6 years makes me a regular and my 12th is already booked. Before the end of the visit, so will my 13th. Currently I see no reason to stop as I’m still enjoying it as much as ever.
Today I got to ride up and around what is called Lookout Point. It also has another name which is Movie Pass. I love the ride as its loping out (on the fast version) and you get to ride around the top of the viewpoint before coming back down. From the view it’s clear why it’s a look out as you can see for miles and the White Stallion Ranch is just off in the distance where the line of trees and buildings are just off centre. Its second name is due to the number of movies that have been shot there, two of the more famous ones being Winchester 73 and A Kiss Before Dying (the 1956 version).
I’m now back at the ranch that I have visited a number of time, White Stallion Ranch, and have been able to do what I consider one of the highlight activities of the week, team penning. In a group of 4 friends we had some wonderful runs and I was allowed to cut a number of times as others didn’t want to. We were lucky enough to have a totally blistering run and managed to pen the cattle in 14 seconds from the time we got to them. It’s not quite my fastest time, that being 13 seconds but everyone was delighted with such a wonderfully quick time. We don’t get to keep the trophy as it was donated by a guest for photo opportunities, but it was nice to have been winners.
When you leave the ranch the exit side of the entrance is different and expresses the message above ‘Vaya con Dios’. It translates as “Go With God” or “May God Go With You”. It’s a nice expression and as a Christian is something that is always a good reminder. Leaving the ranch can be a little sad. True most people come back, but even still, because it’s such a great place to spend time it’s easy to focus on how different the life you’re returning to is likely to be and that it might not be as enjoyable. This helps me to remember that God is there through the fun times and the less entertaining ones.
As previously mentioned, there are some Green Horned Owls currently at the ranch. Today I found out that they had a chick and that the ranch staff had helped build up the nest after the parent owls didn’t do a good job of the original and the baby fell out. It’s just a few palm tree branches to help create more of a barrier. The baby owl is sweet and once it had popped it’s head up (I had to wait for this but then that is how photography often works) it very comically would roll it’s head up and down and round in circles while not taking it’s eyes off me.
There had been a new birth at the ranch recently. The foal doesn’t yet have a name as the ranch will only name it once it has shown its personality. It’s very curious and was quite happy to walk away from it’s mother (still in the pen) and come over for some attention. I suspect that it will steal the hearts of a number of ranch visitors this year.
As well as riding there are daily walks organised at the ranch for those who want to do something different or aren’t riders. Each is different, but one that I’ve been meaning to do for a while is the walk up to the top of one of the local mountains. Panther Peak is one of the two peaks the local road is named after. (Yes, Twin Peaks Road!) As you can see the view is stunning and you can see for miles. It was a hard going walk, especially in the heat and I did need to rest for a bit once completed, as did everyone. However I’m glad I’ve done it and it’s another ranch activity knocked off my list.
Just as the riding group I was in was coming back from it’s fast ride the wrangler who was leading our ride spotted this on the ground and quickly picked it up and, being right behind her, very kindly she offered it to me. Its the feather from a Green Horned Owl, a couple of which have taken up residence at the ranch. It fitted nicely on the rim of my hat for the rest of the week.
So I’m back at the ranch (favourite holiday location) and I’m now officially into double figures for visits. First task on the first riding day is to collect my new pin badge for the visit. I’ve always felt it was a nice touch that the ranch did these for people to be able to track their visits. Not only is it useful at the ranch but it’s a nice added memento.