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Tuesday morning started off with the nice combination of a later start, an earlier ride and a later breakfast. The ability to enjoy this option only happens twice in the week and is the combination that gets you onto the breakfast ride. It’s nice to have a lay in that early in the week, especially when you have travelled so far and may still be suffering from a bit of jet lag. Thankfully I was over mine, but it’s been useful in the past. There aren’t as many options with the breakfast in the desert, but you get options there that you only get there. For that alone I feel it’s worth it.

As ever the sun was out and the temperatures were already rising and it was going to be another nice day. I strolled out to the corral and readied myself for an easy and uneventful walk via horseback to the breakfast site. While it wasn’t dangerous, eventful it was. We were lead out by another wrangler and halfway there our small band of riders picked up an additional member.

I had never seen a live coyote in the wild before. I had heard plenty of them on my previous visits to the ranch, and as the week went on there were a few occasions, day and night where we would hear them very clearly. This however was a lone animal. It posed no threat to us. However it did pose a threat. One thing that wild coyotes do is send one of a pack to make friends with local dogs, lure them out to play and then get them to a place where the whole pack can then set about them. This one wouldn’t enter the breakfast site, there would be too many people there, but what it might do is have the ranch dogs, of which there are several as they take lots of them in, chase it out of the area, and that would be the danger. It took a bit of persuasion but the after quite a few attempts our unwelcome guest was encouraged off by the wrangler. The speed at which they can run across the desert is impressive and it was a struggle to keep track of it.

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Coyette just behind the creosote bush.

Unwelcome member of the group gone, breakfast was an enjoyable feast. Our number were still quite small despite the new arrivals, many of whom were not riding, which leant to a nice small group where you could chat to everyone. New friends arrived bit by bit in the various groups that we set out in, but there was enough space to move around and chat with whoever you wanted to. Suitably filled for the morning, we all headed back to the ranch.

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The cookout site for breakfast

One of the nice things is that with a number of the slow rides, there is also the chance to do a fast ride during that morning or afternoon as well. I don’t always do this as I know that it’s hot for the horses and they do work hard. The breakfast ride is slightly different as they do get a good rest while we all stuff ourselves. With that in mind and eager to test out how my lesson had benefited me, once back at the ranch it was a quick refill and then back to the coral for the second ride of the morning.

At the start of the ride I was once again reminded of the nature of the place where the wrangler checking my horse before we set out remembered me. Admittedly there was probably a better reason for this memory. Last time I had ridden with her I had come off. Thankfully this time there wasn’t going to be that issue. The fast rides had changed a little from last year. There had been a heavy monsoon a couple of weeks prior to arrival and it had washed out a few of the trails and made some of them too dangerous to ride through so it was nice to have some variation from the normal. With riding often the timing of things is key and timing was important here, and we arrived back at the ranch, just in time for lunch.

Given that I had a bit of after lunch until my next ride, the only sensible option was to spend some time at the pool. After all this was likely to be the last bit of serious sun that I was going to be in the presence of until next year and knowing Britain, possibly till I went to the ranch again! Unusually there were some unwanted guests at the pool as well. It seemed to be the day for it. I’m not sure if it was a friends food or drink, or if the insects had decided to have their own party, but just at the end of my time by the pool, as I headed off to get ready for my next ride, they decided that I was going to be one of their dining options. Annoyingly one of the bits was just at the flex point of the foot. Thankfully the office came to my rescue with a band aid to prevent any risk of it rubbing.

Despite how wonderful the day had been so far, despite becoming a delicacy for some insects, the best part was yet to come, and that was the team penning. This has always been the most fun part of the holiday for me. The fast rides are good and it’s nice to practice riding at speed through the desert, but the team penning is something else. Given we still, wonderfully, had small groups, there were only a handful of us that had experience of team penning already. I teamed up with some friends that I had made during the first few days and with them being new to penning helped reassure them that they could both do this and enjoy it. We took it in turns to cut and as is always going to be the case, had mixed success as you would expect with live animals.

An hour or so later, with an extra round of penning thrown in due to the small number of groups, we all left the arena, as ever with smiles on faces and those who were new to the penning had gained an understanding of why this part of the holiday was raved about so much, even to the point that some were talking about wishing they could have more time at the ranch.

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Cattle penning with the wranglers (in blue)

The day was drawing to a close and after a shower and a change it was time to enjoy the happy hour with some free snacks and some good margaritas (the prickly pear was particularly easy on the taste buds). After dinner the evening entertainment was line dancing and after a lot of chatting we made our way over to a wonderful new area to join in. Normally the line dancing is on a Sunday and being the arrival day I often either miss out or, having had a 24 hour day already, find I’m too tired to enjoy it as much as I would like. This time I was more awake and with it. With the groups that were at the ranch, again the line dancing was small in number, which was a shame as it’s more fun with more people, but we all enjoyed ourselves anyway. What was unusual was we had in the group a couple who new a load of their own dances, so everyone was learning new stuff. I even got to run through some steps in the Cha Cha Cha at the end.

With line dancing done, so was I and it was about time to call it a night.

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