A Rare and Exciting Visit

After my first week of taking care of the ranch on my own, Richard came up to visit, which is always fun for me. I spend quite a bit of time talking to the animals (Whistle and I have lengthy conversations each day!), so it’s a treat to get responses in English when Richard comes to see me. This visit from Richard was particularly exciting because it coincided with a visit from Walt and Mandy as well. Walt is Richard’s best friend from high school, who worked on the ranch for many years and actually met his wife, Mandy, while working on the ranch. Mandy comes each year to assist at our TTEAM Young Horse Training Clinic with her aunt, Linda Tellington-Jones and mother, Robyn Hood. She is also an esteemed horse clinician in her own right: www.intouchwithyourhorse.com. They were driving back to Canada from Colorado, where they had been visiting Walt’s family, and they stopped to spend a couple of nights with us.

I must say that my life on the ranch is quite routinized. Animals are healthiest and maintain weight the best when fed at the same time each day. As a result, there is not much variation in my day when I have so many different critters depending on me. Walt and Mandy’s arrival injected a welcome dose of spontaneity and excitement into our lives. After the morning chores, Richard announced that all he wanted to do was go sledding. We dusted off Richard’s childhood sled, co-opted a few of the sleds that Mel uses to pull flakes of hay to the stallions and sheep, and we were off to the hill in the sheep pen. The sheep spend their summers on the side of a steep hill that goes to the bench, where the horses spend their nights. This hill acquires a coat of ice each winter with a layer of snow on top, ideal for rocketing down on a sled. Here we are climbing to the top and getting ready to sled down:

The dogs were clearly fascinated by the whole situation. They had never seen people on sleds, nor had we ever climbed that hill during winter– it was all new to them!

Sledding down the hill was fun, but also exhausting, as the climbing was tough and slippery. Richard then upped the ante by suggesting we tie our sleds to the back of the car, for some (dangerous) car-sledding. Richard, no dummy, decided he would drive while Walt, Mandy and I were towed behind:

Although entertaining, the sleds were unwieldy tied up in a line, so we could only go so fast before a sled would topple over, or the front person would be forced to let go of the line. We then perfected the art of car-sledding: two people in one sled. Excited by our discovery, we headed to the switchbacks to sled down behind the car. Now, is it a smart idea to sled behind a car down a very steep, icy road with dangerous curves, hitting over 20 miles an hour at times? Let’s put is this way: I would sooner let my six-year-old niece, Lizzie, drive the car unchaperoned than climb aboard that plastic sled. BUT, was it fun idea? Absolutely.

Here we are, successfully reaching the bottom of the switchbacks, with the dogs in hot pursuit!