When my husband asked a group of visiting Rotarians and other folks from Oregon if they wished a morning of horseback riding be included in their San Miguel itinerary, they responded with a wholehearted "Si"! Our group, visitors and local residents together, were all excited to play out our fantasies of being "vaqueros" or cowboys and cowgirls, if only for a day. We were anxious to explore the beautiful scenery of the hills and canyons around San Miguel from a perspective that we don't often have the opportunity to experience, on horseback, away from modern city life, with no traffic, no crowds of people; just the quiet serenity of the countryside surrounding us. We were happy to give the business to Tomas Morin and his family at Rancho Xotolar for several reasons. Everyone employed at the ranch is a member of Tomas' family and extended family who all live there. They are also members of a local cooperative focused on developing tourism business and who assist each other in successfully marketing and operating their business for the benefit of all. We felt proud to contribute in a small way to their effort and to help the family build their business to supplement their income from ranching. We hope that their horseback riding business will help keep their family together on the ranch for years to come without the need to leave to seek employment income elsewhere. Above all, Tomas and his family are so very friendly and welcoming! They are quick to laugh and eager to demonstrate their fine riding, roping and lasso abilities. We are pleased to say that they did all of the right things to make the experience enjoyable and memorable.
Our group, about 16 in all, ranging in age from 11 years to 70+years, had a wonderful time exploring the canyon at the ranch through the eyes of "cowboys and cowgirls for a day". From the moment we arrived, greeted by not only a group of well trained horses, but also a contingent of cowboys who helped pair us with a horse that best matched our riding ability and then, for those that required it, gave assistance in mounting the horse, adjusted our stirrups, gave practical riding advice and above all helped to boost our confidence, as many of us had not ridden horses for a long time. For those who didn't have appropriate cowboy hats, we were provided with an authentic item from a collection hung on a nearby tree, the stage was now properly set. Throughout the experience, we never once felt in harms way, as our nimble footed, four legged steeds carried us down into the canyon, along the river bed and then back up the canyon on the other side. The scenery was breathtaking and to add to the sensory experience, our charming cowboy escorts would often break into a chorus of "ay, ay, ay, ay" from the popular Mexican song Cielito Lindo! Those among us who so wished were given the opportunity to have their horses trot and canter which added to the fun, especially when cantering through the river itself, with the cooling water splashing up at our sides! There was plenty of interesting conversation which included a history of the ranch given by Tomas who has a comfortable command of English. Tomas was also always at the ready with one of our cameras to help us chronicle the event.
When back at the ranch after over two hours of riding, we were treated to a delicious comida (lunch) of Enchiladas prepared and served with care by female family members. The "Queso de Ranchero" made fresh that morning and the "Salsa Verde" made from a local cactus fruit were especially delightful.
Gracias to Tomas and his family for a memory filled horseback riding adventure which was truly Mexican and wholly authentic....it will be high on our list of activities when we host other out of town visitors and should be on your list too!
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