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Life and Times of a Working Cowgirl

A Not So Quiet, November to Remember

Normally November is a quiet month on the ranch with Thanksgiving as our one flurry of activities in an otherwise bucolic month. This time of year has just enough sunny days to finish the pre-winter work and just enough freezing temperatures to let you know what you’ve forgotten to do. As the days grow shorter the time between feedings seems to do the same. Our routine becomes feed, work, get warm, work, feed, get warm. With the fire continually burning in the living room, Smokie and I make our annual migration from the chair in the kitchen to the chair next to the wood stove. I spend my afternoons reading, writing and planning my next big adventures while Smokie lies on his pillow next to the fire perfecting his snoring skills. However, this year has been different.

Thanks to some fantastic fall weather we’ve had lots of gorgeous sun soaked afternoons to ride and ride we have. Our guest calendar has been full and our personal riding has been extraordinary. We’ve ridden in parades, with friends, for training, for fun and for transportation and for any other reason we could come up with. On the first day of the month I was lucky enough to meet a young man named Filipe Masetti Leite and his lovely girlfriend Emma Braizer. He began riding his horses from Calgary, Canada on July 8th and is heading to Brazil. Now I ride a lot but 9,000 miles in the saddle seems daunting to even me. I began following Filipe’s trip while he was still in Montana. He is young, exuberant and full of so much life you couldn’t help but want him to succeed, but knowing what I do about horses and mother nature I was concerned for him from the start. As he traveled through the Rockies I checked his posts more frequently to ensure he hadn’t fallen on hard times. He adventure wasn’t without trials and drama but for the most part he trekked along with great success. It was fantastic to read his posts about all the ranchers and cowboys who supported him along the way. From Canada to New Mexico, right through the heart of the American West, Filipe was riding through and reporting on the America I had begun to fear was lost to partisan politics and religious intolerance. As his travels continued and his experience with real Americans was documented, my faith in America grew. This crazy Brazilian boy and his adorable Canadian girlfriend were bringing out the best in everyone they met. So on the 1st of November, on Filipe’s 26th birthday Barney and I went to Santa Fe to buy him a beer and soak in all the star-dust left on him from the trail. Our encounter was brief but left both Barney and I impressed and aching for more. Over the course of the month Livi and I have snuck off and joined him on his ride whenever we could.

Thanksgiving presented a wonderful opportunity for our family extend some kindness and hospitality to both Filipe and Emma. With a certain amount of secrecy and as quietly as possible, we arranged for our friends and neighbors to watch the ranch and the critters for a few days while Barney, Livi and I headed south. After a grueling day on the ranch and a four-hour drive we spotted Filipe and Emma alongside the road. In a flash we had the horses loaded and headed off to a casita we’d rented on a nearby ranch. After a short night’s sleep we began the preparations for Thanksgiving. We opted for a late lunch, early diner so we could enjoy a lazy afternoon. Somewhere in the middle of making lunch I noticed Livi had disappeared. It didn’t take long to find her, straight out the window of the casita I could see her galloping bareback on Blue in the roping arena. As the dust and her blonde hair flew a smile crossed my face. Livi rides for herself, she seldom competes and hates to be judged on her riding, she rides for the sake of riding and for the joy she feels while doing it. From the kitchen window I could feel the connection between her and her horse and see the joy. Allowing your children, even encouraging them to take part in risky dangerous activities is hard for me as a mother, seeing the strength and self-confidence they gain allays my fears and fills my heart with joy. At that moment I was so thankful for our lives, for the ranch, for the horses and for the opportunity to share all of it. It really was Thanksgiving Day.

We spent the next day relaxing, checking tack and equipment and making sure Filipe and Emma were ready for the next leg of their journey. Livi taught Filipe some EPR moves for his horses feet and we made a trip to town for supplies. Our time was far too short but we headed home with our hearts and our bellies full. Each of us had given freely of our time and resources and each of us had gained so much more than we had given. I wish everyone could understand that life, love and happiness are not like a pie,the pieces do not get smaller the more you share them. Life, love and happiness grow and expand to fill any space we leave for them. Thank you to everyone in our lives who has provided space for life, love and happiness. For all of you I am truly grateful!


One Comment

  1. So glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots to share and be grateful for. So envious of your rides with Felipe and Emma! They rode right by me on their way through Alb. and I missed my chance. I almost went to the parade in Corrales, but decided it would be a little much for Atsili yet, and didn’t want to take Yiska and go by myself. In retrospect I wish I would have.

    It was good to catch up with Jen over a Thanksgiving meal of our own with close friends and hear all about the parade and your ride with Felipe and Emma.

    Still hoping to get to ride with you myself one of these days. Happy Holidays.