Things are starting to thaw around here. But don't mistake that for Spring, I'm certain there's more Winter waiting around the corner to burst our bubble.
With the thaw comes plenty of mud and thoughts of summer horseback riding. Dan's been thinking about who's going to ride what horse this summer, and he decided that for Lily to improve as a rider she needs to move up in horse. Apache is a great kids horse and ideal for learning to ride on, but for competing in barrel racing and learning to be a better rider on the ranch (accelerating and turning a lot and being able to "cut" cows to separate them), Lily needs to advance to the next level. Dan says she needs to get an "intermediate" horse that's better than Apache but not quite as good as a 4H quality horse because we can't afford one of those right now. I'm not sure at this point what an "intermediate" horse is, but Dan is on the lookout.
We've always planned for Amelia to inherit Apache when Lily outgrew him, but Amelia's only 3 and not quite ready to ride Apache. So Dan put the word out that he was looking for an older, gentle horse that he could mostly just lead around. A buddy of his from Idaho, who Brian does a lot of horse trading with, said he had a 20-year-old horse that he mostly used for pack trips. Because of the horse's age, he couldn't really sell him for much of anything and he didn't want to pay to feed him anymore, so he just gave the horse to us. The horse's name is Mouse and we'll share him with the Nates. He is an awesome little horse and perfect for getting kids used to being in the saddle. As you will see from the pictures, Mouse gets his name from his large stature.
On Saturday morning Dan took the girls riding.
Amelia was nothing short of giddy at the opportunity to ride a horse all by herself. Equipped with her bike helmet she was all ready to ride Mouse with Daddy guiding them with the lead rope.
Dan and the girls did a little "ride-by" so I could take their picture as they headed around the block to the dirt road that runs along the railroad tracks.
This abandoned trailer sits across from our dirt (mud) driveway and although it's an eyesore, it faces east and has the one advantage of reflecting nice warm light into our back door window early on summer mornings. We keep hoping the owners will donate the trailer to the fire department so they can burn it down in a training exercise. If you look on the left you will notice the nice dish mounted to the side of the trailer. It always makes me chuckle; I wonder how much the cable bill was in relation to the rent? Them folks loved 'em some TV!
"I riding all by myself!"
Mouse is still nice and furry with his winter coat.
And here's Lily, the old pro. That girl would be happy riding a horse 8 hours a day.
Riding past our little white house with the red roof. Amelia had to hold on tight with her hands because the stirrups were way too long for her legs. We're going to have to find a different saddle!
Lily has fantastic posture and holds the reins just right. She's really quite a confident rider. Mouse is the ideal horse for a really young rider because he just follows the other horses, you really don't even need to steer him.
This picture really shows how small Mouse is. Apache is a fairly small horse and he totally dwarfs Mouse!
I love this picture of the ranch dogs, Millie and Skyley, chasing after the riders. They've always got to be chasing and herding someone or something!
These pictures represent one of my very most favorite things about living in rural Wyoming. My kids would have never had this opportunity living in the city, and it gives Dan great joy to teach them to ride and spend time with his kids on horseback. I often smile and think of my Gram and Grandad and how they surely are smiling down from heaven on the next generation of cowgirls and future cowboys.