Spur of the Moment Ride

'… on the trail we listen to the snow squeaking under the horses’ feet.'

Elmore Leonard’s #1 rule of writing:  Never open with the weather.  However, for outdoor activities in Santa Fe, it is all about the weather.  We have been waiting to pick the best day for a snowy trail ride at Galisteo Basin Preserve.  In the past few days, 18” of new powder has been dumped on the Sangres.  Daytime temperatures have been in the high 20s low 30s.  Picking the perfect time in the day is also important; the middle of the day offers the best window of warmer temperatures and the greatest abundance of sunshine.

But it’s all about the wind.  The last 3 days have had moderate wind – tolerable but not enjoyable from the back of a horse.  We had been waiting and watching to pick a great snow ride day.  We wake up Monday morning and look out the window.  The trees are perfectly still.  Ron says, “This is the day”.   It’s today or forget it, because a new storm front is moving in and snow is expected again tomorrow.

We emailed 5 or 6 people that could be up for anything and love to trail ride.  Most replied quickly that other plans prevented them from riding today.  Undeterred, Ron and I head for the barn to load our horses.  Piddling along and expecting not to see anyone, we get a phone call as we drive past Eldorado.  It’s Jarratt asking where we are.  He lives close by and has ridden over to Cowboy Shack expecting to find us there on schedule. Since he had a lead on us, Jarratt went ahead to ride, but said he would swing back and find us somewhere on the trail. 
We arrive at Cowboy Shack and saddle up. The horses seem to like this plan of tromping through the snow.   Two joggers arrive at the same time.  We exchange greetings feeling that we share this secret time and place.  Our horses are barefoot in the winter, so snow doesn’t pack up in their hooves.

As we mount up, here comes Jarratt.  It is always a pleasure to find fellow horsemen out enjoying such a sparkling clear day.  The first thing Jarratt says is, “I think you picked the perfect day!”  It’s in the mid-30s, not a cloud in the sky, and thankfully no wind.  Hat, gloves, jacket, chinks, scarf, and we are warm and cozy.  Not even my toes or fingers are chilly.

The snow covered ground provides a different take on this spectacular scenery.  Jarratt has already spotted a fox and a doe mule deer.  Jarratt says, “I feel so lucky to be able to ride here.  It’s the best place in all of Santa Fe County, and it’s right out our back door.”  As we follow along on the trail we listen to the snow squeaking under the horses’ feet.  Off in the distance a pack of coyotes starts howling, causing a ruckus.  The horses prick up their ears to assess the situation, and then relax.

We feel the temperature starting to drop.  Its 2:30 already; time to head for the barn.  As we reach the trailer, the two joggers are also returning to their car.  We exchange waves and smiles and head home to a warm fire and hot supper.

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