Sunday, November 28, 2010

Should've been a cowgirl...

Two years ago, around this time of the year I joined my friend Daisy on a special kind of short trip, a visit to The Hideout.

As a horse back rider and photographer, what can be better than having three days of fun on a 300.000 acre ranch photographing and riding exquisite Quarter Horses? Not much except staying longer, of course...
Unfortunately, as I came home and tried to work on the images, lots of my files got corrupted due to an software problem with my old computer, and editing became so frustrating that I quit working on my images.
About a month ago, I suddenly remembered the trip, and since I had backed up the original files and now have a new computer, I happily went to work and can now share the results with you here.

Daisy and I planned to meet at the Hideout, since she arrived there a few days earlier. The ranch is located in Shell, WY, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. On Sunday I flew into Billings, which is about 140 miles from the Hideout. Coming from about 70 degree warm California, landing in a snowstorm was a bit scary, but I figured I would just upgrade my rental car to a 4wheel drive and all would be good.
Unfortunately, I was not the only one who had this great idea and by the time I arrived, there were no 4wheel drive cars available anymore. But the clerk assured me, the streets would be clear and I should not worry...
As I went to my car, it was buried under so much snow, that I first had to borrow a shovel to make sure I was standing in front of the right car! Then I waited about 30 min in the still ongoing storm until the rental car people could help me dig out my car, so much to the clear roads...but once on the main street, driving went quite smoothly indeed. My only worries were, that except for myself in my little rental car, nobody seemed to be on the road.
Nevertheless, I reached the ranch without any incidents and right on time. Greeted warmly by Ashley, I checked in to my cozy room.

In the early evening, I caught up with Daisy and together we went to the main lodge. Here, after yummy appetizers we were treated to a delicious dinner.

The next morning greeted us with sunny blue skies...

... and excited, fresh horses.

It was rather chilly, but neither the horses

nor the cowboys seemed to mind.



Due to the warming weather, by the afternoon, most of the snow had melted,

and we got the opportunity to photograph the running horses in front of this magnificent scenery.

Tuesday morning we got up early to take advantage of the nice morning light to catch the horses while they were crossing a small river.

While photographing the horses crossing the river, I happened to run out of memory on my card. As I was changing the card I caught a glimpse of this solitary grey horse standing in the grove behind the river, watching the crossing horses.

After a hearty lunch red rock country was on the program...


Full moon rising behind the ranch.

On Wednesday, I had a hard decision to fell: Should I go with the photographers to take more pictures or should I go horse back riding...
After I heard, that the ride this Wednesday would be a real cattle drive, bringing down cows from higher pastures down to the valley, the decision was clear: I would ride the cattle drive.
What an experience! The horses are unbelievably well trained and as sure-footed as mountain goats! After a steep decline, we rode along the street down to the valley,

where it got rather dusty...

...after about 8 hours in the saddle, I joined the photo group for a quick dinner and one last sunset shot.

Even if it is now two years later, the memories are still vivid in my mind, it was a short but wonderful trip....that needs to be repeated...

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