When I was a teenager, I bought my horse Comanche, and I then spent a lot of the next two years exploring the Oklahoma countryside on horseback with my friend Kristy and her horse. The times I spent outdoors with Comanche are some of my fondest memories of childhood, and riding across the open country again has always been on my list of “Things to Do Before I Die.” That’s part of the reason I’m here at the beautiful Vee Bar Ranch near Laramie, Wyoming this week, at the “Land and Literature of the Horse” writing and riding retreat guided by author Page Lambert.
We are matched to horses according to our descriptions of past riding experience. My horse Lucky and I were in the beginning, slightly suspicious of each other. But now, after several days together, we have, if not exactly bonded, learned to more or less trust one another.
Yesterday, while learning to cut out cattle from a herd and move them, I completely forgot how rusty my riding skills were, and Lucky and I moved like a team. (At least that’s the way it felt; who knows how it looked.)
All the attendees are women (big surprise, right?). As we get to know each other, we discover that many of us have suffered losses of loved ones in the last few years, and three have had breast cancer. While those are sad facts, it’s a great reminder to work hard on making our dreams come true while we are still here on earth.
Like me, many of the other women want to relive the bliss they felt on horseback as a child, and one of us is riding for the very first time. We have all vowed to seek happiness and meaning in our lives.
I have to go now. Today we are taking the horses to another ranch to ride in new territory among cattle grazing there, and there will be a lot of smiling in the bright Wyoming sunshine.
Tonight we will share our joy and sorrow and wonder through our writing.
This is an amazing place to be, the Vee Bar staff couldn’t be more friendly and helpful, and Page is a kind, thoughtful facilitator.
I’m proud of myself and all these women for having the courage and taking the initiative to make at least one of our dreams come true.