At Long Last.

Now for some fun stuff.

I have to say, I am more than happy we were able to have this year’s annual ladies hill country ride. If we were unable to have it, which we were in danger of not being able to, I would have very likely had a complete breakdown. I mean, OK, I am using that term a little flippantly, yes, but only really a little given recent events that you are now privy to. I needed it so bad and so did everyone else.

Last year the year 2019 and that year’s ride feels a life time ago, both in actual time and in events as so much has happened since we were last able to ride together. Those salient details we do not need to belabor as I am sure each and every one of you are grateful for.

So, back to the ride. I will admit, I do not have overly much to offer you in words (good thing I did take some pictures!). Most of that week now seems a blur to me. Quick to arrive and quick to go. I spent most of my time on horseback up front by myself, in my own little world (sorry, K!). Just me and my Lito. Who, by the way, was absolutely fabulous. Part of my lack of words is that there really are none to describe how great he was.

Given how, um, ‘eventful’ our drive up in 2019 was, I was just overly grateful to have an uneventful trip this year. I did not even care that we could not stop to shop at the big tack store that is on the way.

For a horse that really does not generally enjoy being in a stall, Lito quite likes his tent stall while we are there. He gets the five star treatment. A deeply bedded and banked bed. Unlimited fresh and clean water. Salt block. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed. Spa treatments. Room service and turn down. How could a guy not like it?

I did do a funny thing.

You see, this ride is more than just for fun and vacation with your friends. More than just an escape. It is a chance for us to be like kids again. To be that horse crazy girl again. To get in touch with that horse crazy girl if you have forgotten.

Each year I seem to take that to a new level. This year was no different. Although, you might not believe me as there appears to be no photo evidence.

I brought out the Twinkle Toes. You heard me. Yes I did.

Let me tell you something, the glitter is more fun than it used to be! They have more products than they used to! They also have some more subtle color options! It is just that little something extra that catches your eye and then adds a twinkle to your own (see what I did there?!). The copper body spray for Lito’s coat is where it is at. I also got some gold feathers to put in his mane and tail. Which I did, but again, I somehow do not have it in any pictures! Oh well, I did it, OK, and trust me, it was all worth it. Even to end up with glittery reins. I also got the glitter hoof polish, but I never did get around to using it as applying it out there is a little tricky. Anyway, if you are looking for something fun just because, go and get some glitter! It will be fun, trust me.

You can maybe see just a hint of the copper glitter in his mane here.

We were blessed with great weather. It was not too hot, not too cold. Not too humid. It rained some, but it did not get in the way of the riding…even if we did get a titch wet the first morning. It was foggy and then the skies cleared to brilliant blue.

I wish I had been wearing a go pro camera to catch all the butterflies that serenaded us.

A lot did happen that week. Sisterhood and friendship. Fellowship and blessings. Horses, horses, and more horses. Fun and silliness. Memories and sadness. Grief and togetherness. Beyond that, I can not say, dear readers. That is for us and nobody else. Secret society and all that, you understand.

Each year is a blessing and this year was no different.

The sunset at the farm the first night back was as stunning as usual. This photo really does not do it justice. The sunsets here are something that is almost as comforting as a hug from a family member or a close friend.

After looking through the photos I was able to get that week on my phone, I was somewhat gobsmacked at how the view from Lito’s back has changed since I started riding him. From age three to now a little over eight and a half, the view has changed a lot! And I am not talking about the scenery.

You see that photo there on the left? That was when he was four. It was from his first big trip. It has been my phone background ever since then and I smile every time I see it. Anyway, I was scrolling through the photos from this most recent ride on my phone and I stopped at the one there on the right and admired it for a while. I quite liked it I thought and wished we could go back. After a sigh, I closed the photo app and saw my phone background. My jaw practically dropped. I had to blink a few times to reorient myself. To my eyes, he looks like a different horse. And he is different in so many ways, but he is also too that same baby boy in so many ways. Look though at the differences. His ears. His neck. His way of carrying himself. It has been quite the journey and I am blessed to still be on it with him.

I was forced to get a new phone recently and I went ahead and made the new photo my new phone background. I smile every time I see it too.

Walk in love, dear readers!

God’s Country Ride

Where do I even begin. I truly am not even sure. The Monday blues were real and hardcore on the struggle bus yesterday.

Years 1, 2, and 3 were all so different and this year was, well, no different! It was indeed the best year in my estimation and I believe in several others’ as well.

I suppose starting at the beginning is the natural way of things. It just seems so long ago!

I was able to skip town pretty early on Friday. I already had my things packed and Merle with me at the office. All I had to do was drop him off (more on that later) and I was off scot-free! Well, as scot-free as one can be in Friday traffic, but hey, I was on my way!

There were only a few stops I needed to make on the way for necessary long road trip things. Shavings for Ronan and Lito in the trailer and breakfast kolaches (both sausage and fruit) to go and nacks (that is ‘snacks’ for all you people without a cute niece) for R and me.

R and Ro made it to the farm Friday evening with just enough time to get Ro settled and for us to get into town for a Mexican food dinner. We were both starving and decided loading all of my stuff could wait till the morning.

Morning came quick enough, as it does, and there was plenty left to do before we could leave, but we got it all done in not much time or having to rush too badly. After loading Ro and Lito and before pulling out, R warmed up the sausage kolaches while I turned the rest of the horses out.

Our farm cat, clearly a bit miffed that he was going to be missing out on the fun and the kolaches, decided he would take matters into his own paws by snagging and eating our fruit kolaches off of the truck dash. He clearly enjoyed them! After having a good laugh, the first of many, we were on the road by around 10 AM. 

Lito in his road gear. Am I ridiculous? Maybe, but I do not care.

The drive was going smoothly enough.

Long time horse people never actually think that thought though because it is just a matter of when something will happen, not a matter of if.

Is that not so subtle foreshadowing you read?

Spoiler alert, there were incidents.

This was the first incident. Blown tire.

Doesn’t that just look like a party?

There are several great things about this incident. Both the horses and us were just fine. We had all the things we needed to change the tire. AND, go figure this, a friend just up the road to help. We were on the road in very little time at all. By all accounts, this part really could not have gone any better.

That was the first part.

Once we got to the next town about 45 minutes down the road, we spent the next hour trying to find someone to check the rest of the tires and replace the blown one. After trying three places, we finally got the others checked and decided to get on down the road. We started the drive with two spare tires and knew we would have better luck replacing the one in a bigger town or come Monday morning.

Feeling pretty alright about our good fortune, but still someone shaken, we drove on.

I will spare you some of the details of what happens next, but we almost got in a bad wreck…Like slam on the breaks and horn and basically come to a stop on a major freeway bad. And feel the horses get smacked around in the trailer behind us bad. All because someone was not paying attention and was entering the freeway incorrectly! (Let us all make a pact to help educate people on driving the road with horse trailers, OK? Thanks). It could have been much, much worse. I do not want to focus on that.

The point is, we were and are still OK.

I have shown you this cross before.

I can tell you one thing, we were praising the Lord during and after this drive.

Us humans were pretty shaken by the day’s events and we have never been so happy to unload horses in our lives. Oh, and bless these two boys of ours. They unloaded calmly and seemed to comfort us and not the other way around! I think at that point we would have been happy to never leave that hilltop ranch. At the end of the day, the drive took about twice as long as it should have.

We put the horses in their pens to settle and went to settle ourselves. That later on included an evening stroll with the horses before dinner with some of the other early arrivals.

Lito wanted to make donkey friends, but they were not so inclined.

The Sunday sunrise the following morning was stunning as per usual. R and I climbed on top of the trailer with our coffee for a better view. This basically set up the rest of the day.

I stayed in my pajamas until 11 AM. This will likely not be a shock for you to learn, but I never do that. Ever. It was glorious. I probably had four cups of coffee too.

Lito and one of his many girlfriends, Jazzy.

The longhorn wanted to make friends too.

Later on, in real clothes, we went for a much needed ride.

I have shown you this cross before too!

We then watched the sunset before heading down the hill for dinner in town with friends.

At dinner, our great friend and hostess read that day’s devotional aloud.

Boy howdy, if that did not speak right to me, I do not know what does.

It was a great evening and we all awoke on Monday morning rested and ready to make it to our final destination for the main event! …Sans incidents!

However, R and I first needed to replace our blown tire which took some time. This was actually kind of nice because we got to have a nice breakfast in town while we waited. Once that chore was finished, we went back to the ranch, loaded up (again, I praise these boys that loaded very well despite how their last trip went!), and headed out!

I am happy to report that we made it without any problems and got our ponies all settled for the week of fun!

And fun we did have in a big way.

Fun. Fellowship. Sisterhood. All with our horses. I can not share too terribly much because it is all, you know, secret and stuff, but here is a little taste of what went on.

Just look at my cute boy. He looks happy, yes? He had this face on pretty much the whole week.

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We enjoyed a movie out on the lawn after dinner the first night, complete with popcorn and candy…under the full moon! It took me right back to childhood and camp. We watched The Man From Snowy RiverGreat movie if you have never seen it!

I had late night and early morning hangouts with my guy.

Lito striking a pose while looking for the strange animal that made a scary noise.

We rode the hills together.

Those are my friends R and H. And Lito’s friends Ronan and Chica.

We crossed a lot of water and we loved it.

We rode through the shady, idyllic groves.

We hung out in the river and watched the fish.

Lito took many naps. I did not. I did not sleep much all week!

We saw, experienced, and felt God’s creation from the back of God’s gift to us. It could not have been any better.

We caught the sunrise each morning and the sunset each evening.

I felt transported to a different place at times. Which was much needed.

I do believe my Lito had as good of a time as I did.

My horse. My Lito man. He was amazing and seemed to be very happy (even if he did get bored and frustrated when we were going too slow or stopping too much). He wanted to be friends with everyone. I could not be more proud of him. He is not the horse for everyone, but he is for me. We have our own thing.

I lost count of how many times I laughed until I cried with my fellowship and horsemanship sisters. My stomach and my eyes hurt! Y’all have no idea how much I needed that. How much we all needed and still need that.

We rode together. We prayed together. We laughed together. We cried together. That is what it is and was all about. That is what IT is all about. AHAmoment. They call the Hill Country God’s Country and it sure did feel that way!

Now I can not share any more about that! BUT. I do have one more thing for y’all.

Did you wonder about my Merle while we were away? Well, wonder no more. He was in excellent care. I had to board him because all of my people were busy or out of town. He did not seem to mind and clearly had fun! Does he look like he is practicing his face for Halloween, missing baby teeth and all?!

By the time we got back to the farm and unloaded, I wished R a good safe rest of her drive, took a much needed bath, and then took a two hour nap (another thing I do not do).

I still have not caught up on sleep! We are all happy to be safely home even though we were not quite sure we wanted the trip to be over. This week is major catch up and now I just want to go back!

Walk in love, dear readers! I sure missed y’all!