By Jan Westmark
It’s 2016, which for many people means it’s time to make their New Year’s resolutions. I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions — probably because I don’t keep them. Sometimes when the New Year rolls around I decide to stop eating chocolate because I’m the first to admit I have a serious chocolate addiction. But then I realize that life without chocolate is difficult (and ridiculous) so that resolution only lasts a few days — or hours.
This year, however, I am making one New Year’s resolution — to ride more often during 2016. I’ve been horseless for a while, which doesn’t work well. As most horse people know, once you’ve been bitten by the horse bug your life changes forever and a horse becomes a necessity.
Toward the end of 2015, I went to the Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Idaho, a fantastic dude ranch that gave me a great taste of the West. And it rekindled my desire to ride more often. (Don’t miss my full story on my dude ranch trip to Red Horse Mountain Ranch in an upcoming issue.)
The ranch assigns each guest a horse for the week, and I was thoroughly smitten with my big black horse named Oreo. He would make a wonderful amateur hunter or foxhunter, and I spent several days trying to figure out how to bring him back to North Carolina with me. Oreo was willing to lope along the trails as calm as could be, even as other horses galloped wildly past him. (You can’t call it cantering when you’re riding the rocky Idaho trails.)
One big difference between riding in Idaho and in Wellington, Florida, where I used to live, and even in North Carolina where I live now, is in Idaho the ground is very rocky. And the trails go straight up and straight down and are covered with large rocks. The terrain didn’t bother Oreo; he just picked his way along the trails while I clung to the saddle and gasped at the views and the giant drop-offs on either side of the trail.
When I returned from the ranch, I spent several weekends at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. If that doesn’t spark the desire to ride again, nothing will. The show is filled with one gorgeous horse after another and it certainly kept my itch to ride alive.
So here’s to a New Year filled with horses and riding. I wish that for everyone — whether it’s riding your own horses, riding a friend’s horses, taking lessons or maybe just working alongside horses — I think 2016 is the perfect year to get back in the saddle. And stay there. Happy New Year!