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Well the final day of riding had arrived. In some respects the holiday seemed to have sped by, but at the same time I felt that I had been there for ages, and that it would not be a hardship to remain, even though work would prevent me from doing so. The morning would be taken up with another ‘breakfast ride’ which meant an earlier start on the horses but a later start to the day, which suited me fine. I was sleeping very well by now, much better than at home!

Suitably attired we made our way on horseback to the cookout in the desert one last time. Unlike the other breakfast in the desert though most of us would be taking a longer route home afterwards as there was the option of taking part in an extended ride that went along the bottom of Panther Peak, one of the two main peaks that give their name to the road the ranch is off of. Yes, that would make it Twin Peaks Road for those TV and film aficionados.

We had an unexpected visitor at breakfast as can be seen below. I have no idea as to what type of bid that it is, but, to coin a phrase, it had a wonderful plumage! One of the things that some people come to the ranch for is the wildlife, especially the birds. I already mentioned the roadrunner spotted the day before, which I was told managed to elude a previous group who were intent on spotting them (sensing a cartoon flashback here). There are also owls and a whole variety of smaller birds that flit around the ranch quite literally gathering up the crumbs.

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The ride along the base of Panther Peak is always one that I like. It’s not a difficult ride like the mountain rides, even though it is in the shadow of them, but this ride, more than any other reminds me of the common scenes from westerns as the cowboy winds their way on a turning trail on route to somewhere. You even have the birds of prey (or at least I like to think they are) circling above, possibly ready for any mistake! The ride was also the last fast ride opportunity of the day and the week and it was nice, one out of the mountain foothills to get up to speed one last time.

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There’s quite a bit of downtime on the last day, purposefully I suspect, to allow people time to pack without feeling rushed. As someone who tends to pack used clothing as the holiday goes on, this gave me some extra chill time by the pool. I hadn’t spent as much time at the pool as in my previous visit, but now was the time to correct that, get some reading done and enjoy a penultimate day of lovely sunshine and warmth.

After lunch there is always the chance for a final slow ride before the rodeo. Again this is in the foot of the mountains and while most of the people I’d spent time with were opting out, I decided that it would be amiss to have one final ride and the chance afterwards to give Ice and wash and brush (even if he was going to just go an roll in the dirt straight after). One thing that I hadn’t appreciated until this ride was that Ice wasn’t actually the slowest walker! While he may have been slow compared to some of the other horses that did the fast rides, he more than held his own here, so it was nice to not be bringing up the rear for a change.  I even managed to get what might be close to a horse selfie!

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After getting back to the ranch and saying goodbye to my trusty steed it was time to find a good seat for filming, photographing and watching the rodeo. This is a chance to see how good some riders are. It’s not open to guests but is a wonderful display of skill.  In keeping with the fact that they fly the flag of the nation of anyone who’s staying at the ranch, they also have their flags ridden into the arena at the start of the show.

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The speed and angles that the horses get to on the barrel racing always amazes, as does the speed at which some of the roping takes place. Times of under 3 seconds from start to finish are not unknown, even in these non-competitive conditions. I was happy to look back at the photos from the rodeo to find that I had got some decent ones from the myriad that I took.

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This just left dinner and an evening where there was no planned activity. Having got my packing sorted I sat down with some friends and was introduced to a fun new game. I suspect the fact that I managed to win both games helped with the enjoyment, but it will certainly be on my ‘to get’ list. The game, Triolet, I hadn’t heard of before, but it’s sort of like Scrabble with numbers where the aim is to get totals of 15, but not more and with a maximum of 3 tiles. A particularly positive aspect of the game is that it doesn’t need any language skills to play it, so, providing it can be explained, people from any country can play together.

Given it was the last night, we all stayed up a bit later than previously before heading off. Sadly for me my neighbour was leaving early and had clearly decided to pack when they awoke at 3am. They also seemed to feel that it wouldn’t be an issue with opening and closing the front door a number of times, though why they were in and out so often still leaves me puzzled. Thankfully I did get back to sleep and thought that I could at least catch up a little bit the next day as I had a late departure and could get some sleep by the pool!

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