After a night filled with jumping and screaming, we were up early the next morning to try a different activity. One that we had not done before and one that actually had Barry nervous instead of me for a change. I’d booked us on a horse trail ride. I’d ridden horses for years at home when I was younger, but the last time I’d been on one was about 15 years ago. Barry on the other hand had only ever been on one twice and that was only for a total of about 30 minutes. Horse riding was about to become interesting!
From San Antonio we had to drive to the Northrup Pipe Creek Ranch near Bandera, where we were going to meet Ron and Nancy from Cross-G-Ranch Trail Rides. As we made our way down the country roads to the ranch, we got our first glimpse of the wildlife in the area when we had to wait for a couple of white-tailed deer to bound across the road.
Once we reached the ranch gates, it wasn’t long before Ron pulled up with a box full of horses. We followed him into the ranch where we parked up by a beautiful little stream. It was a very chilly morning at 48 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest temperature we’d seen since leaving Alaska, so we were sure to throw on our hoodies.
The horses were all brought out of the box and lined up. They were all kitted out in their Western style gear with big leather saddles and coloured, patterned blankets. Ron called me over to mount the first horse – Dee Dee. As soon as I hopped on I grabbed the reins like I would have on a horse at home. Straight away Dee Dee started backing up. Ron soon told me that wasn’t how you hold the reins here. You had to hold them right at the end and give the horse a really long rein. This was because they were trail horses so they needed to have their head down to follow behind each other. It took me a while to get used to; it went against everything I had ever been taught. I barely had to even move them to get Dee Dee to turn or stop, she was very responsive.
Next up was Barry who was riding Riley. He managed to get himself up in the saddle easy enough and with no real experience; he easily took a hold of the reins ‘Western Style’. Once everyone was up on their horses, we got on our way. The horses all naturally started following each other, which also went against what I was taught. I was always told to make sure there was a horses length between you and the horse in front, otherwise the one in front would kick out behind it. These horses couldn’t get any closer to each other. It made me nervous at first, but when the horse in front didn’t even flinch, I soon realised they didn’t seem to mind.
For the next two hours, we rode our horses all over the ranch. Alongside little creeks, through fields, we ducked under trees and stopped at lookout points to check out the amazing vistas. Every now and then we’d have a little ditch to walk down into and then have to walk back out. It made me laugh every time we did this, as the horses would go into a trot and Barry looked like he was clinging on for dear life. What would he do if Riley decided to gallop off? They were amazingly calm though so luckily for him, he never had to find out.
Once the two hours were up, it was time to dis-mount. That meant another challenge for Barry. He’d managed to stay on his horse all the way round, even though Riley was a bit of a gannet, putting his head down chomping on the grass at every opportunity, but could he get off without falling off?
Needless to say he managed it fine and as much as he enjoyed the ride, I think he was happy to have both feet safely back on the ground. The ride was great and for me, it felt good to get back in the saddle. The scenery was amazing and it was good to explore the ranch and see the views from atop a horse, rather than on foot like we would normally. The horses were so well behaved and calm, I would happily recommended it to anyone who has never ridden a horse before.