Just like certain smells trigger childhood memories, so do pictures and places. I recently had a full circle moment with a heritage oak tree and a pipe corral. I was involved in a photo session, updating pictures for this equestrian blog, when I realized the role those old oak trees played in my youth and my horseback riding memories.
Growing up in Northern California, I rode horses throughout the hills of Contra Costa County. I vividly recall the lush, green pastures after the winter rains. Eventually, the vibrant grass turned from green to golden shades of brown, as did the oak trees scattered about.
As I climbed up on the rusted pipe fencing to snap some photos, memories of pipe corrals and overnight trail rides flooded my mind. I never gave the oak trees a second thought as my horse and I trekked quietly under a canopy of green, the trees protecting us from California’s harsh summer sun. I didn’t think twice of the deer bounding past as we disrupted their solitude or the small bands of cows and calves who rose to their feet, startled and confused as to their next moves while we approached on horseback.
I remember the precision and patience needed for positioning my horse, just right, next to a steel fence, climbing the green panels of a Powder River livestock fence – yes, that particular brand still registers after many years of opening stock gates on horseback – and swinging my leg from fence to saddle. I remember well the portable pipe corrals standing ready for our horses to arrive on Mt. Diablo for summer horse camp. If I close my eyes, I can hear the clang of the stock gate as it swings shut and the steel handle slides into the locked position. I remember feeling proud that my horse and I could navigate fences and gates in the pasture, as well as the show ring.
I was a little over-whelmed with the emotions that an old oak tree and a rusted pipe fence could conjure out of this old cowgirl. They say an elephant never forgets, and, apparently, neither do I.
Article written by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Ariat supplied me with Real Denim the Perfect Riding Jean. I’m wearing a Wrangler Western shirt, my high school buck stitched leather belt, silver belt buckle, a custom cowboy hat and the western boots are courtesy of Durango.