Horse Gals

Last May I went to a horse clinic in Colorado, put on by Julie Goodnight, who is a “rock star” in the horse clinician world.  The clinic was at the C U Lazy Ranch in Granby, Colorado.  I tried to get a few of my local friends to accompany me, but having no takers, decided to go it alone.  I had read about how awesome this clinic was, so somewhat hesitantly, I flew out to meet up with 35 women I did not know from all across the country, ranging in ages from 40 and up.

Julie Goodnight

Julie Goodnight

The C U Lazy Ranch is a “dude ranch” established in 1919.  The accommodations and food are fabulous, and the scenery is spectacular.  That alone would be worth the trip, but on top of all that I got to meet 35 total strangers who are women like me that have a passion for horses.  Not to mention we got to schmooze with THE Julie Goodnight, and have her critique our riding and help us with issues we might be having.

Upon landing in Denver, I found myself in a late snow storm driving through the mountains of Winter Park on my way to Granby.  It would have been a lot scarier if I had been able to “see” what I was driving through, but I was literally almost blinded, so inched along until just outside of Granby. There the sky cleared to blue.  As I turned into the C U Lazy, the herd of almost 200 horses was being turned out for the evening.  I stopped the car and watched what they call the daily “jingle”.  Quite an impressive sight to see that many horses galloping by in front of you (click here to see galloping horses)!

The clinic included sessions with Julie, and trail riding to your heart’s content. Polite and extremely helpful “wranglers” would greet you with your saddled horse, and take him from you at the end of your ride.  This is quite a luxury for those of us who take care of those chores at our barns at home.  When not riding, there were wonderful yoga classes to stretch out our tired and aching muscles.  My cabin had a fireplace and jetted tub.  How perfect was that?!  Not to mention the amazing spa accommodations in tents by the river.


Now, about those 35 women.  What a perfect mixture of personalities and riding skills.  I found each of them delightful.  On the first night we were to appear in the lodge area for meet and greet cocktails.  I wandered into the bar, and there were two ladies that looked very approachable, so I introduced myself and we started up the beginning of many conversations over the next 4 days.  The three of us joined up with a larger group who ended up riding together and eating together over the course of the clinic.  Those two at the bar, Jackie and Joanne, were especially fun and had come together, friends originally from New York and now living the “horse life” in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  I have never been, but pictures I’ve seen of that area are stunning. So here I am with my new “horsewomen” buddies (I’m second from the right in the back, Jackie and Joanne are on either side of me).


The long weekend ended too soon.  I had met some incredible and interesting new friends, got to hang with THE Julie Goodnight, who I found out is originally from my hometown of Orlando (what??!!!), enjoyed about five hours a day  of trail riding in the mountains of Colorado, worked in some yoga, and basically had the time of my life.

The sequel to this story is almost a year later,  Jackie and Joanne are flying down to Florida on Friday to spend 4 days in the warmer weather, riding with me at my place!    Can’t wait to pick up where we left off!

Riding the trails at C U Lazy Ranch

Riding the trails at C U Lazy

Giving the horses a break

Giving the horses a break

Julie's Horses

Julie’s Horses

Happy Birthday Dear Friend!

Last Saturday I attended a gathering of about 40 folks who were invited to a surprise 60th birthday party for my longtime friend, Margie.  Her husband had pulled off the nearly impossible feat of actually surprising her with this lovely dinner, where her immediate family and her closest friends with their significant others, lied in wait for her arrival.

I met Margie on the first day of 5th grade when I moved to a new neighborhood and was attending a new school.  She was that angel who welcomed me and we became best friends.  For the next two years we rode bikes or walked to school together, had sleep overs, cheered peewee football, and had the carefree childhood you could have back then.

When we went to Junior High (the Baby Boomers equivalent of Middle School) we merged with the other elementary schools in our area and I learned to “share” Margie with the new girls.  We became this great group of friends who stayed close through high school, college, and were in each other’s wedding.  Almost 50 years later, here we are.

Quite a few of us, including Margie, went out-of-state to college and worked elsewhere for a time, but eventually returned to Florida and this same community. The husbands are mostly from other towns and states, and were brought into this circle through marriages and children, many who have grown up together.  These special guys have formed long-time friendships as well.

The dinner party was pretty boisterous and then the toasts began.  Her sister, children, and their spouses all were charming with their expressions of true love and appreciation for this gift of a “Gigi” they were blessed to have.  Her husband choked up recounting how they met and when she agreed to “have him”  (set up by a friend and her husband who was this ex-football player’s roommate at Florida). Her “newer” friends told of how she had nurtured and inspired them. Then it was our turn.  There was our gifted one-woman of a show, who was her college roommate.  Wearing one of their sorority jerseys (a little tight she proclaimed but she could still get it on!), she read a hilarious poem depicting their escapades in high school and college at Clemson University.  I got to toast her and claim the “official longest friendship in the room”.  Seven of us performed a song and dance tribute to Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t she lovely”  changing the words to describe our friend. Yep.  Sixty year-old women sporting wigs (brunette in her honor) and performing a show that took multiple rehearsals to get it right.  Now you see the “love” required to participate in this kind of behavior!

So who is this person that has generated such love and devotion (and she was horrified, by the way because she is usually the “giver”).  My friend, Margie, is the most unselfish, and truly genuine person I know.  She is the one we all have called on for help and advice.  She is the organizer of food and duties when we lose a loved one. She is the one you can laugh with until your sides hurt horribly or you wet your pants.  She  is the devoted daughter, wife, friend, mother and grandmother we all strive to be.  This is just second nature to her, without any hint or expectation of acknowledgment .  She is genuinely that good.

One of the husbands,  who was sitting at our table, leaned over to me with huge tears in his eyes and told me this.  He said he had watched our group’s friendship through the years with utter amazement.  He grew up in the military and moved seven times during his school years.  The fact that this group of friends has such history and loves each other to this day, still amazes him.

Thank you Margie for the gift of friendship you have given to me all these years.  I am a better person for knowing you.