I had come to Rendezvous Ranch to attend a women’s horse camping clinic, but instead ended up on an unexpected horse camping trip with the owner of the ranch and her friend. It didn’t even enter my mind to be disappointed; I thought of it as an adventure and jumped right in!
I followed Chris and her friend as they drove the living quarters horse trailer with the three horses we would be riding. We were heading to Ancient Lakes near the Columbia Gorge in western Washington. We pulled into the campsite, a grassy field tucked behind a ridge with horse pens. We got the horses settled, watered, and fed, and I set up my little ALPS Mountaineering tent next to the horse pens. The next morning we would set out on the trails.
It was beautiful out there–the dirt trails wound between spring-green sagebrush and craggy cliffs rose up out of the landscape. The three of us rode for miles every day for the next two days, giving me a first good dose of what endurance riding was like–we trotted and cantered for long stretches, and went at least 10 miles one day. I’d never done that many miles on horseback before, but it was what I had hoped to do with Raven someday and it was fun!
As we walked up one trail, Chris asked me about my mare and how it was going with her. I told her about rescuing Raven from the feedlot, doing groundwork, but that we were having trouble and that she had bucked me off a few weeks before. Chris then told me that since I had put down a deposit for the clinic but didn’t get to attend, she would help me with Raven. If I could get her up to the ranch this summer, she would work with us for a few days. I was elated. This was a way forward. I needed help after our setback and here was someone offering to get us on track again.
That night I snuggled into my little tent and listened to the horses munching in their pens nearby. I read my book by lantern light and heard coyotes yipping out in the open terrain. Later I fell asleep to the sounds of rain. I was loving every second of it; I felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
The rain continued to pour into the next morning, cutting short our last day of riding, so the horses were loaded up and I said goodbye to Chris until next time–we would set up a good date for me to bring Raven up, and I no longer had to wonder what I was going to do to gain my confidence back with her. I wouldn’t have to go it alone. I had a plan and it felt good to have some hope when I needed it most. This unexpected adventure had helped open a path forward for me and my little rescue mare, and I was grateful.