Of course, you know that after a day of riding in the cold fog, we'd wake up on Sunday morning to brilliant sunshine, and not a cloud in the sky.
Oh well, live and learn.
But as the day went by, I kept thinking "Oh, if only we'd gone on a sunny day... wouldn't that be a better fun time?" and by the end of the day, I'd convinced myself that there probably won't be many more (if any) sunny Saturdays between now and the end of the year. We had a dinner party Sunday night, and while we were sitting around afterwards, digesting, I suggested to Toni that maybe if the weather looked as good on Monday as it had that day, that we take the girls out for the Early Bird Special. At first, she was a little hesitant. She really likes her sleep-in chances. But I was persuasive, and you should've seen how excited the girls looked when we suggested that we 'say goodbye to summer' with a beach ride the next morning. I took Toni and Carrie home (it was a game night, too, and things finally finished up at the various game tables at QUARTER TO FOUR) so they could get an early night, and then packed it in myself.
Once again, I awoke to Kelly standing over me with her entire riding kit put together. Except this time, she was holding my phone, and said "Toni just texted that she's on her way". Whoops. A little bit of over-sleep. But I was able to gather my crap together, and be ready to go before she arrived.
I drove over, and we got to the ranch by 8am, or a few minutes later. Whoops. Who knew that other people would have the same idea as us? The place was packed. We were standing in line, and the folks in front of us said "Oh, did you come over from the other ranch, too? They ran out of horses and sent us here."
Sure enough, as the folks in front of us got to the front of the line, the ranch foreman said "Sorry, but we've run out of horses. I can give you the early bird price, but you'll have to go out on the second ride of the day."
Well, they were good with that, and so were we, and so were the folks behind us. So we all signed up, and then agreed to return to the ranch by 10:15, so we'd be ready to go by 10:45, once the horses had returned and had a bit of a rest.
The folks behind us in line had 2 daughters, aged 9 and 10. Perfect little friends for Kelly, who swept them along with her joy of horses, as we all went out to the pasture (after asking, of course) to give carrot treats to the horses that have the day off. They also had an exchange student who had just arrived from Taiwan. He'd never been to California, and had never been on a horse, but he was a great sport, and had a very good grasp of English. Our girls did the 'hard sell' for Horse Camp, and it looks like they'll be joining us there next summer. The dad was really happy with how his girls were becoming comfortable around the place, and he complimented us on our girls, and, as he said "I teach middle school, so I know Middle School Girls, and your girls are both gems". Yay!
After playing in the pasture for a bit, they headed off to show their Taiwanese student a bit more of the coast, and we went to Starbucks so we could use a clean bathroom.
We decided to go back and park at the ranch, and then go for a bit of a hike for some exercise before the ride. There was still a lot of time to kill.
"Oh, let's visit the ponies first!" Kelly and Carrie asked, as they filled their pockets with broken carrot bits and went to the pony pen.
Just as the girls finished up giving all their carrots away, the ranch foreman showed up with a rope. It was time for the ponies to earn their keep, and he was going to have to rope them to catch them. They were scampering around, trying not to get caught. They're all lazy as stink. Teenagers, if you will. If they can make someone ELSE do the work, they'll avoid it at all costs. Kelly said "Oh, Jorge, if I'd known you wanted the ponies, I could have brought them to you. I was just walking them around."
He laughed, and said "Ok, help me catch them and bring them to the pony ring." So Kelly and Carrie ran back to the van to get their lead ropes, while Jorge showed off his cool roping skillz.
And before you know it, all the ponies were heading off to the ring.
The girls got a lesson in knot tying...
And then they were responsible for getting the saddles on the ponies while Jorge dealt with the customers.
Better test out the saddle, Kelly...
Yup. Sturdy Godzilla is ready for a little rider.
Oh look! The horses are back from the first ride. Kelly and Carrie gladly go to work taking bridles out, and watering the horses and putting them back on the line, or in the back pen for a snack break.
The girls are asked which horse they would like to ride. Carrie makes her choice of one of the horses that has just come back from the ride. Kelly hesitates... her favourite horse is Eddie, but he is in the pasture.
Jorge looks at her. "Do you REALLY want to ride Eddie?"
Her face brightens...
"Hold on..." he says, as he takes off his hat and fills it with grain. "I'll be right back"
Fifteen minutes later...
Kelly is leading the line as they leave the ranch. See those white-white arms on that child? Yeah. we put on sunscreen while it was still cold, so her face and neck are well protected. Her arms? Well, she was still wearing a jacket when it was Sunscreen Time. They're gonna be a bit sore at bedtime.
But she's not thinking about that.
She's thinking about Eddie.
And when they got back to the ranch, their camp instructor was there, getting ready to give her own horse a bath. Kelly and Carrie immediately volunteered to help. What a treat!
It was a longer morning than we had originally planned. But the girls got to make so many great memories.
And now it feels like fall.