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Dreams of horses and wanderlust (a strong desire to travel) go together and need to be fulfilled. 

Even if you spend a lot of time around horses, there is often a yearning to have a different kind of horse experience. The routine of the arena and the familiar trails becomes just that – familiar.

Do you find your mind wondering off on a romp across the Irish countryside on a solid Irish Cob? Or maybe you’ve always been intrigued by the speed and sounds of a drag-scent hunt with hounds and horses. Many of my friends have found the mountains of Idaho and Montana a place of respite and beauty from the back of a solid horse, equipped for the rugged terrain and altitude.

There it is! Wanderlust.

So what is stopping you? Pick a spot, hook up the trailer and go. Right? Not so quick. Even if you decide to travel domestically, is your horse prepared for whatever you have dreamed up in your head? Altitude changes alone are enough to take a pause on this dream. What about his feet and rocky terrain? Are you going alone or joining friends? How compatible are their horses with yours?

A good horseperson considers their dreams and the aptitude of their horse to match them. But don’t give up on those dreams based on that. There are plenty of places where you can go and ride good horses built for the environment. Consider it therapy, and treat your wanderlust. Recently I set out with eight other women for a new experience on horseback.

The Sangre de Cristo mountains are the southern-most subrange of the Rocky Mountains, located in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. It can be a harsh environment in winter but is packed with the beauty of a bygone time. The valley at the base of the mountains is beautifully managed by the Ranchlands Company. Thousands of American bison flourish on one side and thousands more Angus cattle graze the other, while a string of solid horses manage it all.

It takes a special kind of horse to cooperatively adjust to different riders of different skills and ambitions. This is no ‘dude ranch’ but a working ranch, with horses that spend some of their day finding cattle and carrying horsemen across a prairie. The balance of their day is spent grazing on the natural grasses, just being a horse. That’s their job. It’s wonderful to see them content.

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This is what feeds the horseperson’s soul. A healthy horse and a new exotic locale to ride them in. Every morning we were up at dawn, ready to see something we had never seen before from the back of a good horse. Every night, over gourmet food and wine, we reflected on how that day had been even more beautiful than the last and how our horses and the wranglers kept us safe.

My horse, Murphy, became my wings across the dunes and across the sandy river bottoms. He listened intently as I reined him through the tumbleweeds and sage. Nose-to-tail riding on the trails was discouraged by the wranglers, as we were allowed to spread out and create our own paths. Lightning strikes and thunder never phased these horses, a mixed group of Quarter horses, Morgans and even Haflingers.

Trips like this with good friends and great horses is the ticket to horsey bliss for those who love horses and have a nagging wanderlust. Start planning and start saving. Even your horse will be glad you did.

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Debbie Roberts Loucks grew up on Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang. She is the daughter of Monty and Pat Roberts. You can follow her on her popular podcast Horsemanship Radio. 

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