Friday, September 14, 2007


Last weekend, after a slight delay (it was a Christmas gift), I found myself in the saddle again. Quite literally! I think most people have their own idea of a fantasy man – police, sailor, fireman – oh wait, that’s my list. Unless you are a straight man, then off course your thoughts wonder to those of a dream woman - nurse, French maid (that counts as a uniform right?) or bikini model.

At the top of my list is a man in boots, jeans and a cowboy hat. Throw in a saddle and a horse and my dreams have come true. Of course, I am talking fantasy here – the cowboy in question would of course be masculine, handsome and gay. As far as I can tell however, Brokeback Mountain does not exist.

The next best thing is for me to don the above described attire and mount a steed. And thanks to the Boyfriend’s present, last weekend I did just that. Rising early (as cowboys are wont to do) I headed north for an hour and a half to Rawhide adventures.

When I called to book my trail ride, Crusty (no kiddin’, that is what he goes by), suggested a nice leisurely ride out to a lake with lunch over a camp fire. Sounded good to me – if a little generic package deal-ish. He asked if I had ever ridden before and I said of course. I started to tell him about my excursion into the rocky mountains with my dad and sister when I was cut off. My first glimpse of where ‘Crusty’ came from.

He asked if I would be interested in something a little different. They were going to move 100+ head of cattle to ‘greener pastures” and wondered if I would prefer that. It would even be cheaper as I was technically ‘working’. I jumped at the chance! It was not until I entered the field and saw ALL those cows that I began to understand the appeal of a picnic lunch.

When I arrived Crusty asked if I rode English or Western. The blank look on my face said more than my words ever could. “Look” said he who was crusty “if you don’t know something when I ask, just say so, it’ll make things a lot easier”. Well good morning to you too grouchy pants! I quickly learned the difference and can now proudly say I ride English style.

He gathered the 14 or so of us around him while he propped a small whiteboard on his knees. Just like a play in football, he mapped out what we were to do. Four Xs in the front would lead, 4 Xs on the right would keep the cows on the road and the rest would close up the rear.

I was the fourth X on the right and was responsible for 25 cows – and one BIG bull. Once mounted on Nitro, I felt completely in charge – them there cattle didn’t stand a chance. For 10 miles we yelled at, kicked and pushed those four legged hamburgers. One of the other cowboy-for-a-day-folk aptly described them as the only animal you can hunt with a hammer.

Unfortunately we had to pass a ravine that had wild apple trees in abundance. As soon as one cow went, they ALL followed. The trees were close together and most people dismounted and started whipping cow butt with an improvised switch. Crusty had a few choice words for those who had let the off roading adventure begin (luckily I was not lump in with that lot). I decided to stay on Nitro and plough in head first. We managed to get the bovine back on the road, and after pulling leaves and twigs out of the saddle, we were back in charge.

3 hours after setting out, we closed the gate on the new pasture and the cows were free to do as they pleased. What followed was a leisurely 2 hour ride (not as the crow flies) back to the ranch along the Bruce Trail. It was shady, cool and perfect. I had crusty free chat with our fearless leader and found out he loves to dance and that his wife is the perfect partner. I was quite impressed with his softer side.

Before saying goodbye to Nitro, I feed her 3 apples I had picked along the way, a handful of sugar cubes and a carrot that I had brought with me. As I put my saddle away I leaned in for a good whiff of eau du leather. That raised an eyebrow or two, but I didn’t care – I love that smell. Maybe I will make myself a leather pillow? Ummm, maybe not.


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