Riding Barranca: Finding Freedom and Forgiveness on the Midlife Trail

Laura Chester

Language: English

Pages: 241

ISBN: 1570765782

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In this remarkable one-year journal, skilled horsewoman and adventurer Laura Chester brings us into her world, where we deeply connect with the earth and its seasons, with beauty and sometimes danger. While riding in places as far-reaching as Mexico, Australia, and India, Chester is always grateful to come home to the comforts of her familiar horse. As they cover the borderland of Arizona and the hills of Massachusetts, we get to know Barranca as intimate companion, mediator between soul and nature, whether entering the wilds of Cochise Stronghold or picking Berkshire apples from the saddle. Carried along on waves of memory, released by the gaits of her smooth-moving fox trotter, this literary memoir takes us on a personal exploration as well—where family relationships are fractured by anger, jealousy, illness, and death. With the help of her big-hearted animal, Chester is able to retrieve the past and find forgiveness. For as she says—"Riding Barranca puts me in the moment, which is where I want to live."

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operation, as the mine had to bring silver over the mountain by aerial tram. There are some stray cattle along the way, accompanied by the sonorous sound of cowbells. The horses know the trail and seem sure-footed. Pochote trees (also known as kapok) are scattered here and there. The large seed pods have opened to expose little puffs of white fiber. Sometimes the birds line their nests with this cozy cotton, but the local Indians also gather the fiber, spin it, and use it in their weaving.

cactus. An elderly man takes us into his house at the end of the lane. He has an old carpenter’s chest for sale, painted orange and blue—it would make a perfect tack box. When he opens it up, I see that the chest contains all sorts of treasures: a bag of old coins, baby shoes, his passport and other important papers. It seems sad for him to part with it, but he assures me that he wants to sell. Soon Erma and the others arrive. Sam serves up some excellent margaritas, and we are all ready for

Bean wormed his way out of the corral, followed by Bendajo. The mare, Copper, was so aggravated, she jumped into the huge water trough and out again on the other side to join the geldings. Mike is now trying to round up the horses with his four-wheeler. I suggest that she call me when the horses return. Later that morning, we head out to Temporal Canyon with Barranca and Ben in tow, winding around through the mountains, the dirt road washboard-rough, but a sweep of poppies has coated the

all of our children through school, but she didn’t want to hear about that. If one of her grandchildren offended her, she would take off like a terror, delivering a scathing litany. It reminded me of all those car rides as a child when I was trapped in the passenger seat, listening to her ongoing monologue. There was never a question of interest in my life, only her ranting opinions. Did she make herself feel better by putting others down? Maybe, it had to do with hormones, or it was just her

before the alarm goes off in order to feed my horses and walk them across the road to their pasture. Then I pile the car with saddle, pad, bridles, halters, currycombs, and leads. I want to try to ride this little Friesian and assess his potential, though he might not have been ridden in some time. I know what a Friesian should look like, so I’m a bit surprised to see El Chapo (the short one), who only stands about 14 hands. (With horses, four inches equals a “hand.”) He is black with the

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