The Dude Ranch is one of the last vestiges of the Wild West. It remains an iconic reminder of the pioneering spirit of the American people. It’s the wild country, the untamed vastness of the arid mountain plains, the fertile green valleys, the red sandstone buttes and the wind carved arches, where many of these ranches reside, that allow us to experience a remnant of our past; A past were we lived off the land: when we had a close relationship with the animals that feed us and plowed our fields, an acute sensitivity to rain and weather patterns that directly effected our crops and livestock, and an intimate connection with the cycles of life and death. Today, the Dude Ranch remains a place of respite for the weary urban dweller, the family, the adventurer and those craving some pure mountain fun.
The main source of recreation is horse back riding on the Dude Ranch. Now I always loved riding, because there’s something a little unnerving about straddling 1,200lbs of pure horsepower between your legs; you know what I mean – if you’ve ever been on a horse in a full run before. It’s truly one of the most exhilarating experiences, especially when you create a bond of trust with your equine friend.
I’ve often found there are parallels that exist between my faith walk with the Lord, and the riding of horses. It’s occurred to me that many times in life, although I’ve had a great and powerful friend wanting to carry me along; more often than not, I’ve opted instead — to walk it alone; all the while, keeping my friend in the barn, so-to-speak. The Holy Spirit seemed to be saying to me one day, “why don’t you get on and ride? Why are you trying to walk this trail alone? You’re not powerful enough to do it, my friend. Only I can take you where you need to go. You need my strength and power.” Of course, it takes practice to become a good rider. You’ve got to trust your horse. You can’t hold the reins too tight and you certainly don’t ever want to let go of the saddle horn.
Walking with Jesus is similar. You have to walk by faith. There has to be trust and respect. When there is a connection, the riding is fun and exciting. Your saddle and body is in tune with the gate of your friend. You walk together in unison, in a special rhythm.
I’ve heard it said that a horse mirrors a person’s soul. I found this rather amusing, because several years ago, I was riding at the Hyatt Tamaya Resort in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on a horse that refused to let anyone else lead. Even though the wrangler was trying to take the front position, my horse refused to follow. Consequently, the cowboy gave up trying, and let my horse take us on the trail, by giving me directions from behind. It was awkward and confusing because I had no idea which way to go; the horse seemed to have a mind of his own and cared very little about my input. And around the same time, I felt the Lord putting his finger on this very problem. I was struggling to follow Jesus because I was always wanting to take control and do the leading myself. I thought I knew where I was going, but I didn’t. I was high-spirited and unpredictable just like my horse. And, yes, it was frustrating and confusing.
I believe these beautiful creatures God created, may just have something to teach us. So the next time you find yourself on a Dude Ranch; Take special note of what kind of horse you get, there may be a lesson in it; as a horse mirrors a person’s soul. Exploring the open country and the untamed vastness of the mountain plains is a wonderful way to experience a remnant the American West; Consequently, you may just find a small piece of yourself somewhere along the trail.