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Pepsi the Wonder Horse

“Who’s apprehensive?” says our pretty riding guide decked out in jeans, plaid shirt, cowboy hat and boots.

I raise my hand with a couple of others in our group of ten. I haven’t been on a horse in, uh, thirty years? I’m assigned Pepsi, a small bay mustang, polite and docile for children or beginners. I think this is a good omen, since we sometimes refer to my sister, Betsy, as Pepsi after a trip to Mexico and recurring mispronunciations by locals. Besides, I like Pepsi Cola very much too.

So I’m riding Pepsi through the woods above a ravine. I dare not look down and just hope that Pepsi is sure-footed, but not certain if he walks deliberately close to trees in order to knock me off or simply to smash my legs. Our horses go single file down the ravine to the creek at the bottom. Now here’s the thing: Pepsi is behind a big horse with an experienced rider who leaps across the stream with no effort. Pepsi suddenly thinks he’s a big horse too and jumps.

“I thought your horse was supposed to be calm and easy-going,” says the rider behind me. I nod. “Well, at least you held on.” I nod again.

The big horse is irritated with the horse in front of him and twirls and prances, his rider handling him just fine. But guess what? Pepsi wants to twirl and prance too. I pull back on the reins so he won’t imitate, but Pepsi turns his head and gives me the evil eye. After that, I let Pepsi do whatever Pepsi wants. Yay! Another creek crossing. I pray my saddle stays on as Pepsi leaps. Up the long hill and then a sprint back to the stables. Pepsi, I’m proud to say, beats most of the other horses. I gladly dismount.

Thank heavens Wind River Cellars is nearby and open for wine tasting.

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