Thursday, January 24, 2013

Horseback Riding with Rancho Baaxal, Maroma Beach, Playa del Carmen

I have just returned from horseback riding on Maroma Beach. Olimpo, who also teaches horse jumping, was my guide. India was my horse. Because of rain the other rider coming down from Cancun backed out, leaving me to go alone with Olimpo, a handsome young Mexican with military bearing.

Grandad had a ranch, my uncle lived his life as a cowboy and my cousin raised Appaloosas. I rode a lot as a young man. One of my fondest memories is a week in Saskatoon with my Dad when I was 16. He took me riding a couple of times with his cowboy and cowgirl friends. They were all wild and I had a great time, mostly being with my Dad and his friends. Later I'd marry a woman who rode English. I never rode but to stay on a horse so could only admire her comfort in the saddle. I introduced her to my Mount Currie friend Wayne Andrews, World Indian Broncho champion. That was nearly 20 years ago. We had some fun times riding with Wayne, doing "man from snowy river'downhill, racing across moonlit fields, riding bare back through ponds. She loved every minute whereas frankly I was really just glad to survive being along. Since then I've ridden only once a year, if that, sometimes a lone, sometimes with a group.

It's 2 years now since I was trail riding in Tucson, Arizona.This was just that at first. Great horses. Great guide. Beautiful trail. Jungle all around. Then we came out on the beach. Spectacular. Olimpo turned to me and said, "this is my office". Some office! A little blue sky with lots of white clouds, green foliage meeting the white sand then aquamrine water. Beauty everywhere.

What I didn't know was India thinks like a race horse. My retired jockey friend, Jim, will be impressed when I describe in detail to him how suddenly the horse was prancing(and probably why all ranches the world over have you sign a waiver). There's a couple football field beach run. The horses like to gallop here. With India prancing sideways, I asked Olimpo, "Does he smell oats or something?" Olimpo responded, "This is where we let the horses gallop if you want."

I'm getting old. But what the heck. I gave India a little rein and off we went not like the proverbial freight train, but more like a jumbo jet. I was bouncing a bit, standing on the stirrups too. None of that jockey over the neck of the horse pose. When India let loose I was lucky I wasn't back out flying over the tail. I actually stayed in the saddle thanks to a combination of prayer and terror.

At the end Olimpo who'd been riding alongside just a little behind me, said, "If you want we can gallop back." I don't know that I really wanted too. I was still thanking Jesus.

India however was gung ho to have another go. Now this time I think he had my measure. India wanted to run and run and run. That's just what he did. Faster and faster and faster! I was shouting 'whoa' and trying to remember what whoa was in Spanish. There was absolutely no time to consult a dictionary. At the end of this run, India slowed and literally grinned back at me, with a "ney" I'm sure said, "I knew you could do it."

That's when Olimpo told me, "India likes to run. He's really fast, isn't he?" No kidding. I was thinking Hadron Collider fast.

I'd circled the level 'moderate experience but not ridden lately'. I must remember to put 'novice' next time. I'm sure was glad I didn't say I had moderate recent experience or claimed to be 'an expert'. This was just enough for me. I can't remember going that fast on a horse since I was 20, back when I had more confidence than brains.

I told Olimpo I'd done more cantering than galloping in recent years. He thought I held on well. Then he said, "Most horses walk, canter and gallop, but India only likes to walk and gallop". Now I know what Harley Davidson was aiming  for when they designed my motorcycle..

We stopped on the beach for soda and snacks. Big beaked pelicans that were sitting in the water every once in a while took off to circle, scouting for fish. A sailboat was anchored down aways just off the beach. The horses had a breather. Dark clouds rolled in. We mounted again.

Now as we rode back to the stables the skies opened up. I had my jacket and hat on but Olimpo and the horses thought nothing of the warm rain. Back at the tack shop the main concern was to get the saddles off the horses so the leather was under cover. The horses were glad to join their half dozen or more horse compatriots.

I had a spectacular time. My friend Anil told me how much he and his daughter enjoyed beach riding and now I get to tell him I understand. Nothing like it.

Horseback Riding with Rancho Baaxal Maroma Beach, Playa del Carmen 77710, Mexico 1-984-145-8962

My assistant, Hannah arranged everything over the internet. Thank you Hannah. Now I can say, "Yo estoy vaquero, Me llama es John Wayne!" DSCN0655 DSCN0657 DSCN0661 DSCN0664 DSCN0665 DSCN0668 DSCN0669 DSCN0671 DSCN0670 DSCN1034 DSCN1038 DSCN1040

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