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Today was going to be a combination of the old and the new for my visit to the ranch, or at least that was the plan. Having skipped the fast rides the day before I needed to check that I would now be fine to carry on with the fast rides. This was especially important for my plans for both later in the day and the next. (A half day ride and a full day ride). If I couldn’t cope with an hour long fast ride, the other two may be out of the question.

With the mountain rides on offer today there were two fast rides I could opt for, but the one to Lookout Point, through Movie pass is one that I like. The chance to ride up to where famous western film shoot outs had taken place is always a must for me. Not just for the history of the place, but also for the incredible views that are on offer. Lookout is an apt name as from the outcrop you can see for miles and anything coming through the desert at speed would be easy to spot from the dust clouds. With relief the fast ride was relatively painless, or at least as painless as any riding was likely to be for me during the rest of the week. I felt comfortable that the rest of the week, in terms of riding, would go as I had originally planned! This was not quite going to be the case, but for reasons that I wasn’t expecting!

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Lunch was out at the cookout location where all the guests are transported over there on the back of two carts with hay bales for seats. It’s not a long journey, but it’s fun. I have allergies and I suspect that doing something like that at home would have me in trouble for a number of days, not just the duration of the ride. However here in the dry heat it wasn’t an issue. That said I chose to sit on the back of the cart rather than bales themselves. No need to take a risk! The lunch, which normally has all the guests on the ranch that day, is also an opportunity to hear more about the ranch’s history. Some of it I already know, but, like any story telling from memory, there were new nuggets of information that were great to hear.

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My afternoon would be a challenge for me. On offer was a half day ride (combination of walking and loping) out to Javelina Canyon. This would be the longest I had ever spent in the saddle in one go, at about 3 hours. If I couldn’t cope with this, the idea of a whole day ride the next day would be out of the question, regardless of how steep a learning curve I might have set myself. The ride didn’t start well. On the first lope my horse took a big, stumble. I’m not sure how far down he went or whether he was on his knees. I came off, but in a very controlled way (according to both fellow riders and wranglers. (One even said that while it’s never good to look round and see someone coming off their horse, what they saw didn’t fill them with worry!) I was offered a change of horse, but declined. These things happen and besides, according to the unofficial cowboy code I still have three more visits in that direction awaiting me before I can claim to be a rider! To give an idea of the control in the dismount, I think I scuffed a boot slightly and had a small mark (not even a graze) on my hand. I think only the ground felt hard done by in the lack of a blood offering! After a short pause to check (more importantly) that the horse was ok and that I was ok, I remounted, got the heart rate under control and carried on. The canyon is named after the Javelina which live there. These are small, pig like animals. I would love to have a photo of them to show you all, but we were advised beforehand that they would see and hear us coming long before we would see them, and as a result, we wouldn’t be likely to! True to form, one was not spotted on the trip. However the canyon was an incredible gorge and I doubt the picture does it justice.

Pan 9 - Javalina Canyon

The evening entertainment after dinner was Loop Rawlings. He performs regularly at the ranch and his skills are impressive. At the time of writing he may, or may not have appeared on America’s Got Talent. I normally steer clear of such TV shows as they aren’t to my taste, but when it comes to the UK I will have to keep an eye out.

Tomorrow was going to be a long riding day with the all-day ride. I wasn’t put off by the fall and as with most things, when you come off, the best thing is to get back on. Given this, and that others were wanting an early night as well, I headed to my room after the show and hit the sack.

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