We ran around Sheridan this morning, determined to visit the famous KING’S SADDLERY (more about this stop on our main HorseandRiderBooks blog), as well as find Martha some shoes, and buy a case of wine before our 11 am pickup–luckily, Sheridan is kind of a one-main-street kind of town and it was completely possible to complete our to-do list. (Oh, and the Mint Bar opens at 10 am…so for all those readers who care, I DID make it there, and I DID take a picture of the huge stuffed wolf…and shook hands with the owner–very nice guy! I’ll write about it in a future post).
Steve Johnson picked us up to transport us to the ranch. He works there seasonally, along with his wife Kristin and sons Isaac and Cooper. Now there’s a lot that’s special about Steve…let’s start with the fact that he’s an accomplished artist. His paintings capture a wonderful authenticity that can make you laugh out loud or feel the sharp pang of nostalgia.
Steve’s also a cowboy and horse trainer, and following our introduction to our absolutely FABULOUS accommodations (slate showers, private deck access, incredible location) he gave us one of the best lessons in basic horsemanship I’ve ever had. Now I’ve edited a number of books, and I’ve also handled and ridden horse since I was five, but I still felt like I was learning something, and learning it well.
The Padlock Ranch spans almost 500,000 acres. Seriously. They talk casually about “ridin’ up to the 10,000 acre pasture.” The utter massiveness of the operation is astounding, and its beauty somehow matches that. The quiet skies (no air traffic), the lack of roads, the utter isolation within 30 minutes of Sheridan creates a space that feels freeing and yet safe; wide open and yet not lost; private and yet all yours. I haven’t been here long, but I can tell you it is like no place I’ve ever been before.