It's been in the negatives consistently here, so earlier this week, when it was 40 degrees out, I kid you not, I wore flip flops and a tee shirt to the post office. It was the perfect weather to go on a cattle drive with Greg and the boys, well and the girls (aka cows).
The morning of the cattle drive, I woke up early and waited for the call from Greg letting me know when to meet them “in our front yard” which is about a mile drive.
I had a few hours, so I went out on my usual routine, thankfully not having to break water. As I stepped outside I was slapped across the face by a 15 mile per hour east wind (okay, maybe it wasn't an east wind, which is supposedly very rare, according to Greg, but it was a blowin, east or not).
I started to second guess my decision to go on this five hour, 12 mile journey. However, Greg was really excited to get the first ride in on his new saddle in, by none other than little ‘ol me. It was super sentimental for him to let me have that. Sort of like letting your best friend wear a new outfit before you do. It was a big deal.
So I decided to suck it up.
I also decided hot chocolate was in order. So I whipped up a pot of my favorite recipe (sans the amaretto) and as it
I considered adding snow pants, but then thought I might get looked at a little funny showing up in a snow suit to a horse ride. So I resisted, but did grab two pairs of gloves.
I finally got the call from the boys around noon, so I headed out the door in my multiple layers, Bog boots, and hot coco.
When I arrived, they were all busy saddling up and putting their chaps on. I made a mental note to add chaps to my list of “unnecessary things I think I need, but probably don't, but really want” and snapped a couple photos of my husband strapping his on. It was a little risqué, and I liked it.
It was finally time to go, and in that moment, I realized it's pretty difficult to get on a horse with three pairs of pants on. I was glad I decided to leave my snow pants at home.
We go to goin’, and as we went, the boys started hootin and hollerin (quite literally) for the girls to “get on up”. It was like a real life western movie. And this is life.
As we pushed the girls through the fields and up into the canyon, Greg told me more about his saddle. To me, it's just a leather saddle, but to everyone else around here, it's a Bentley.
“THE saddle” was ordered by Greg’s uncle Rodney (yes, the Coop Man) in 1994, and was made this past September. If you do that math, you can figure out the guy had a 20 year waiting list for his saddles. I think I'm in the wrong business. But on a real note, his saddles are some of the most well known in the world amongst Cowboys.
When Rodney received the call from Dale Harwood, the saddle maker, that the order was ready to be filled, Rodney decided to gift the order slip to Greg. A huge sign of respect, as if to say, “I trust you with the future of this operation.”
Greg was ecstatic and drove to Idaho to meet with Dale, and design the saddle. He opted for a full flower (the most intricate kind of saddle you can get) with brass stirrups and a 5” horn. A few months of patient waiting later (with nightly dinner conversation consisting of, “I wonder what it’s going to look like!?”), he drove back to pick it up. During that visit, he learned that his was one of the last saddles Dale would ever be making; he would only be completing two more before retirement. What an honor!
The saddle has been sitting in our guest room as if it were a piece of art, which it sort of is, just waiting to be ridden in. I guess he really loves me to let me have the first ride eh?
As we rode, I was reminded of the song “The Ride“ by Chris LeDoux, “sit tall in the saddle, hold your head up high, keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky.” Which was a helpful since I am used to riding English, and was not used to having giant stirrups or a giant horn in my stomach.
The sun was starting to set, so we whipped out the hot chocolate and skillfully passed it from horse to horse trying not to spill. We had pushed the cows through the canyon onto the road, and were dodging cars left and right, we laughed as we made up songs and cursed in Spanish (which is so much more fun than cursing in English, probably because I have no idea what I'm saying, and generally throw in a “margarita” or “horchata” in for extra umph).
We made our way into the valley, where the cows would now call home, and galloped our horses up the long snowy drive towards the barn. The horses were happy to be home for the night and snack on some hay, and I was ready to be home for the night with a glass of wine.
I was happy that I had gone on the ride, regardless of that nasty wind, and grew a new respect for my husband for doing hard, cold, unforgiving work like that day in and day out.