October 23, 2009 at 11:59 am , by Jennifer Castoro
I am from New Jersey. (No, I do not have teased hair, a mob connection or a cousin named Vinny.) As a native Jerseyan, I’m much more city chick than country girl. And the only contact I’ve ever had with a horse was during birthday parties circa grammar school, when all the girly girls would have pony rides in their backyards. So I was super excited to be able to visit Tanque Verde Ranch, in Tucson, Arizona, this past weekend to experience a taste of life as a cowgirl.
As I hopped up on my horse, Katmandu (that’s him in the picture), my first thought was, good Lord, I’m high off the ground! That quickly gave way to oh crap, he’s moving, followed by please don’t turn your giant head and bite me. But I was pleasantly surprised; not only was he (and the other two horses I rode during the weekend) calm and docile, but I quickly got used to the feeling of maneuvering him along the trails at the ranch and getting him to slow down with a little woah and a gentle tug on the reins. He did stop about every 10 feet to scoop some unsuspecting foliage off the ground and chomp on it, but otherwise he was perfectly agreeable.
I also got the chance to do some hiking in the Saguaro National Park (a snapshot is to the left), a breathtaking expanse of giant saguaro cacti, little prickly pear bushes, sweeping mountain views and lots of plants with needles on them. And at night, my fellow travelers and I sat around a roaring campfire, listening to classic western tunes and chomping juicy mesquite barbecue. Delish!
I’m normally a beach-vacation kind of girl, with a little European traveling thrown in for good measure, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed the wild west experience. Perhaps I’m a little bit county…
What’s your favorite place to vacation? Have you ever traveled anywhere totally out of your comfort zone?