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Well the answer to the question above is me, and in a number of ways, sadly not all good.

Arizona is 8 hours behind the UK, it’s enough of a time difference to mean that you need to be careful when making contact. Sadly some people had forgotten where I was so when then called me at midday, I, hopefully understandably, chose to reject the call. Trying to get over the jet lag and the time difference is hard enough, but phone calls at 4am don’t help. It was something that people had a good laugh about at breakfast the next morning.

Despite my rude awaking, I was still up relatively early, but thankfully there is coffee on tap, and while it comes from a dispenser, it was still enjoyable and helpful to get me through the early morning. Take away cups meant that I could stroll around enjoying the early morning sun while I used a few cups of coffee to recover from little sleep. Heading back to my room after a couple of refills I came across a wild jack in the garden area just outside my door. Despite quite a bit of caffeine already, it was far more jumpy than I was, but at the same time clearly wanted to hang around and have something to eat. Fortunately I’d got my camera with me as I’d wanted to get some general photos of the ranch while it was quiet, so, after a bit of hide and seek I managed to get to the point where I could get some nice photos. He was quite a brave one as normally they scarper as soon as they see anyone, but maybe some that have their warren near the ranch as getting used to the human interaction.

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While I never have to start with a slow ride, having been to the ranch before and having passed the fast ride test that they have, I like to get to know what the horse is like, let them get a feel for me as a rider and, hopefully, to let them realise that I do, more or less I hope, know what I’m doing. This, of course, was my second opportunity for getting up, but obviously up onto a horse.  For my 4th visit I would have another new horse. That was fine. I don’t dislike any of the horses I had ridden before, but hadn’t yet found a horse that I might request on a return. My horse was an ex-trail horse called Canyon and as you’ll be able to see, was a red and white paint horse. I realised early on that I would be getting on well with him. He had a good walking pace and responded well to my reining. My other first day activity that is a must is a lunch time lesson. It helps with getting used to the horse and is a chance in a small controlled area to see how they lope and hopefully get some sense of rhythm for the fast rides.

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The afternoon ride was one of the mountain ones and this was a good opportunity to get out how Canyon was on the mountains. While there were plenty of more difficult mountain ventures on offer, this didn’t seem to be his strong point and to a degree it would then tailor my plans for the rest of the week in terms of the rides I would do. It could have simply been just a bad day for him, but given he took a few stumbles I felt that the mountains may not be his favourite playground. It wouldn’t matter as there are always plenty of alternatives and it would give me an opportunity to try out some new stuff. The ride for me was quite uneventful, thankfully, but that wasn’t the case for all. Half way along we came to a grinding halt when the horse behind stopped and refused to go on. With the ‘leave no one behind’ motto we all stopped and waiting for the wranglers to find out what was happening. It took a little bit of time to sort out but apparently the horse had decided to sniff one of the jumping cacti and managed to get the needles stuck up his nose. Needles removed we carried on the ride till we got back close to the ranch. There’s always a point at which we stop to allow for the horses to relive themselves. Not always sure as to why this is done as it seems to be that as soon as we get moving again that they choose to undertake this. Maybe they know that the wranglers will have to come back and clear it all up at the end of the day. However this time the pit stop was a little more exciting. A hat came loose and this causes one of the horses behind to spook quite a bit. There was a knock on effect and Canyon spooked a bit but thankfully I was able to bring him back under control very quickly. It was reassuring to me that I was able to do so quickly.

Despite the stumbling on the mountain and the spooking issue I was comfortable and having had a good lesson of loping earlier I was tempted to go out on the fast ride. However, with the early start and the time difference starting to take its toll, I opted to call it a day. If was my holiday after all. There would be plenty more time to ride and it would be silly to overdo it and have an accident early on. The sun was something that I hadn’t seen a lot of back in the UK so relaxing by the pool was going to be the order of the day. The pool had been totally redone since my previous visit and it was a lovely expanded area and the pool itself was crystal clear. It was also of a temperature that was very refreshing and probably helped me to see the rest of the day out.

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The White Stallion at the bottom of the new look pool.

I would be able to have a lay in the next day as it was the breakfast ride with a later start to the day. It would be needed as I was, by this point of the day quite tired again. Dinner was taken it was time for an early night. The entertainment would be missed in favour of sleep. It wasn’t long after putting my head on the pillow that I was out like a light. This time I also had the comfort of knowing that with the phone alarm not needed, it was on silent and I wouldn’t be bothered by people forgetting where I was!

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