I’ve never been one to want to spend my time in the saddle just going in circles around a dusty arena. As a kid I did my time in lessons and horse shows, but it was never where I wanted to be. I’m happiest while riding when I’m on a trail, enjoying nature.
Last ride with Pinto- one of the best.
When I was six I got my first pony for my birthday. Squaw (she came pre-named) was a fearless Pony of America that would do anything and looked great while doing it. My mom would hike along with us and we would ride from the corner of Loop 360 and Bee Caves Road down into the Wild Basin Nature Preserve and be gone all day. Loop 360 was just being built back in the 1970’s so the cars, houses and businesses had not yet filled the wooded hills of Westlake. I loved those early days of walking slowly along the loosely defined footpaths and game trails- exploring what seemed at the time to be an endless forested world.
Winter shadows of me and Ranger.
As I got a little older, the freedom of riding was even more desirable. In those hard early teen years when nothing else seemed to make since- being on a horse’s back, riding in the woods offered sole-soothing comfort. I could lose myself for hours in the woods, riding without a saddle, getting to know every tree and every rock, and constantly looking for evidence of wildlife. But I wasn’t always alone. I had several friends that also held in them a fearless heart and they would swing up on their horse to ride for hours with my bold pony and me. I still get to ride with those lifelong friends and they still have fearless hearts.
As an adult, I feel exactly the same now as I did as a child. I still love to ride the trails either alone or with friends, looking at nature from the slow, easy pace of a horse. Oh sure, it’s much harder to get on and off my mount these days, and I can’t imagine riding without a saddle and helmet. But I also can’t imagine a life without horses or friends to ride those horses with.
Watching the coming storm and trying to get back to the barn in time.
Along the way I have made new friends to ride with when the old ones are too far away and it is always nice to find a kindred soul who is still willing to venture out into the woods. Some day I might have to make my peace with riding quietly in a circle when I get too old to do much else or when there is no more open land to ride. Until that time, I will enjoy every day that I’m able to ease along a trail with my trusty horse(s).
Trail ride with the Rocking B Riders
Giving people the tools to feel confident in the outdoors is something that I enjoy taking part in any way that I can. My latest effort was to write a “skill builder” article for Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. The article I submitted on how to build the perfect campfire was published this November 2014 issue.
The pyramid method
Some of my fondest memories involve sitting around a campfire, telling stories, keeping warm and even just staring into the flames and letting my imagination wander. I firmly believe that my strong connection with nature helps my creativity and is the core of my confidence.
Knowing how to build a good fire is part of that confidence foundation. Being able to build a good fire is enjoyable and gives me the confidence that I can control of one of the basic elements that sets humans apart from other animals. If I was lost in the wilderness, I know that I could build a fire to stay warm, cook food or signal for help.
The odds of me getting lost in the wilderness are low, but the odds of me camping with friends and family is high. I love creating the perfect campfire to sit around and share an evening under the stars.
With people spending more time than ever indoors, passing basic knowledge like how to build a good fire is slowly being lost. I want to share that wisdom with anyone that wants it. Hopefully the article will inspire someone to take the time to learn how to build the perfect campfire as well and take ownership of one of the most basic human skills.
The name Atomic Cowgirl is something that blends the two worlds that I straddle in my daily life; the fast-paced urban world and the slower-paced realm of nature. Growing up in Austin, TX- I have seen lots of changes since 1973, but I can still find that balance between city life and country life that I grew up with. Granted, that balance isn’t always easy to find and some days are a struggle to continue to have that connection with nature when the demands and distractions of the urban world are pounding at the door. I hope you will enjoy the chronicle of my journey to stay firmly planted in both worlds and perhaps you too can start to consider how you will find that balance in your life.