The full moon came blasting through my window, and I knew this would be the best day yet. I carefully slipped my legs through the dogs, off the bed, and into my jeans. As I grabbed my boots and crept quietly out the door, I realized I would have to hurry to get the horses fed so we could beat this February 80 degree heat.

Last year I sold everything I had to buy a small, secluded finger canyon for my horses. Patagonia’s Young Riders meet out there most mornings for a new adventure. We might just ride to town for coffee, tying up at the new hitching post, or head out from the barn in any direction into the miles of hills and forests that surround us.

With the sun an hour up, we choose a horse and saddle up, sometimes quickly, sometimes not. Then check cinches, and, oh yeah, check again, ‘cause something is bound to be upside down or backward. After all, there are a lot of important discussion going on (mainly with the horses), and even though we are masters at our trades—lawyer, educator, editor, detective, architect, author, taxidermist, and gemologist—we are just 60++ ingenues at the barn.

We grab our hats, though I’ve just traded in my felt for a helmet after admitting that comfort and security trumps cute and cool. And we are off, with Leslie and Jerri sitting up straight and confident, taking the lead, and Nancy on her finely groomed Hershey Bar, bringing up the rear. For now it is the warm feeling of being in the saddle. Becoming that child that straddled the old rusted barrel at sunset, dreaming of riding the mesa on my steed. Through those eyes, the hills and canyons come alive with history as we travel old trails or discover new ones. But the thing is to ride this horse. You may hear “Race!” and we will urge our horses on with everything we’ve got—for about 100 yards—each of us knowing that we could have won. Every horse presents a new opportunity. You might need to talk him out of a tizzy or into a gait. We share each insight and success. We laugh at our failures and fears.

Loved it today when Phil yelled “ Whoa!” and then, “I seem to have a problem.” Both reins were on the same side of the horse. And we’ll never forget Phil galloping through town to head off a loose horse, with bystanders pointing and yelling “He went thata-way.” Twice I was treated to Yunghi’s flying dismount off a stumbling horse—a tuck and roll over the shoulder that was gold medal quality. I love hearing Elise patiently explaining to her buckskin, Nell, what a landfill is, and why she should not be afraid of white bags.

The bonus of any ride is the first poppy we see, or the chance to help find a lost dog or stray horse, rescue an orphaned calf, report a wounded doe, or warn property owners of new illegal traffic. Just to pick up trash or tie up a loose fence, makes a good day. Best of all is the generosity and encouragement of our community and our neighbors at the Rail X, Lazy RR, Native Seeds Search, and Nature Conservancy, who grant us the privilege of crossing their property. We come home with a new respect for the beauty, culture, and history of this land because we are trailblazers. Forever Young.