Riding my little reining mare on the Wagon Wheel Ranch was a new adventure.
By Katie Frank
When my little red mare saw cattle for the first time, I could feel her body tense in excitement. Her ears pricked forward, her head lowered with curiosity, and her gaze followed as the herd passed in front of her. Her cowy bloodlines were showing, and I knew she was hooked.
Ranching Heritage Weekend, hosted by the Wagon Wheel Ranch, featured the ranch’s annual colt branding and production sale in Lometa, Texas. Western Horseman and guests joined the event, and it proved to be a successful experience for both attendees and hosts. My mare, Lucy, and I were no exception. Guests were treated to trail rides across the ranch’s cedar-speckled land, a short cattle drive, and a two-day horsemanship clinic by Craig Cameron and his son, Cole, and nephew, Bruce. The sale ring boasted impressive numbers—eight 2-year-olds each sold for $4,000-plus—and everyone dined on juicy barbeque and sweet tea.
On the drive to Wagon Wheel, I admit anxiety caused me to be a fretful horse owner. Having owned Lucy for just six months, this was our first outing anywhere other than rides around the property at home. What if Lucy colicked? What if she bucked me off from spooking at a goblin in the cedars? What if we looked like fools? Clearly I was the one to be worried about, because she adapted like a pro.
For being a reining mare mostly ridden in the arena, she handled the rocky terrain with impressive adaptability. There was no doubt the new experiences freshened her mind, and as a result, our relationship strengthened.
Talking with other guests, we were not the only green ranch riders. Many had new horses and were holding their breath on the outcome of the weekend. Everyone from ropers to barrel racers used the event as an opportunity to overcome personal challenges in their riding. To some they may have seemed like baby steps, but to the person riding it was a big deal. From gatekeepers to chuckwagon cooks, there was an endless supply of encouraging words and good will.
Each obstacle Lucy and I faced this weekend, we crushed. We opened and closed gates, drank out of a watering tank with the bridle on, trailed a set of heifers into a remote corral, and rode past super scary, sure-to-eat-a-horse bleachers. Everyone starts somewhere, and I thank each person this past weekend for all the support. Here’s to the next horseback adventure.