We ascended the ridge behind the corral to begin our search for 3 missing weaners in Blackjack Pasture. I hadn’t ridden for 2 days, but I was on Seago, so I knew I was in good hooves. I was riding alongside Keith, so I knew this wouldn’t be some tame, leisurely ride, but before I could think twice about it, we were off! Cantering up and down slopes, crashing through live oak, dodging prickly pear, ducking under juniper branches, with catclaw snagging my shirt and mesquite scratching my hands. I dare to lift my head when I think we’re clear of vegetation. Birds are shooting out of the shrubs before us, a cottontail zips across the path, the wind is thrashing against us – what chaos! This took place during maybe a 20 second time span. Cactus needles are sticking out of the toes of my boots. I can feel Seago’s heart pounding, moving my entire body. But she’s constantly ready to go again. We were walking up the creek at one point on the big flat rocks of the creekbed. Stepping down into a small pool she slipped and wiggled and splashed, and in hopes to avoid her falling on me, I jumped/slid/fell off while pushing off of her shoulder. A moment later all was quiet and we stood, staring at each other, on opposite sides of the pool, wondering how the other got there. You can’t think too hard about these things or imagine what to do in a situation – it just works out, instinct’s got your back.

Cantering today for the first time was liberating. We were trotting up the mesa early on and Seago being Seago was trying to catch up to Smokey and the trot briefly turned into something else. Something smooth. But fast. And I was scared and confused. I think it was a brief canter! But I wasn’t ready, so I slowed her. And I still wasn’t ready when Keith and Smokey galloped up and down a few hills through the trees. But Seago was.

Later we cantered on the driveway too. I smiled… even laughed! Because I was on the back of a (probably slowly) running horse. In Arizona. Under the sun. In February. 2,000 miles away from Domino, the first horse I sat on in 3rd grade, anxious as hell, never wanting to touch those animals again. I love to watch Seago’s ears swing around as she hears things. She seems to understand that I’m not afraid to run anymore… she never tried it the previous days, but today she did it quite a bit. I’m starting to get to the point where I’m actually useful on horseback, whereas before everyone else would be looking for cows and I would be looking straight ahead, concentrating on where my 4 extra feet were taking me. My first few rides I couldn’t stand when Jean would talk to me, let alone point out things that I was supposed to look at. I will FALL OFF this horse and DIE if I break my concentration to listen to a word about some missing cows! That’s funny to think about now.

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We rode for 5 hours today and painstakingly brought back 2 weaners. The time flew by. I love the feeling when I’m sitting next to Dink during happy hour after a day like today – my thighs are sore, knees ache, my brow is damp and I feel the weight of that desert sun on my shoulders… these beautiful aches and fatigued limbs make me acknowledge how full and rich every day is here. We didn’t only bring in 2 cows, Seago nd I spent the day together engaging in a conversation that I was not even fully aware of at times, but it’s there. My understanding of these creatures has deepened today. If we could have such relationships with our other modes of transportation there’d be a lot less car crashes I reckon. Side note – driving a car is a really weird concept after only moving by horseback… vehicle does not respond to “whoa.”

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