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Most of the dreams conceived in childhood do not survive the cold transition into adulthood. If they did, we'd have way too many firemen, movie stars and presidential candidates.

But there is one fantasy that lingers in the hearts of kids who grew up to become doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, and computer tech specialists. We all yearn to be cowboys—even if just for a week.

I was one of the lucky ones. I didn't grow up to be a cowgirl, but I did spend two decades showing jumping horses. Despite spending much of my life with horses, my childhood dream was not fulfilled until I had my first stay at a Wyoming dude ranch.

I dumped my bags in my room, saddled a fine Appaloosa mare, galloped to the top of a hill, and dismounted to have a look. All around me was wide-open space under an incredibly big, blue sky. No roads, no power lines, no buildings, no people. And that was just my first ride. It got better.

The memory of that trip fills my senses with the scent of crushed sagebrush and the soft whoosh of a horse's breath on my cheek. Who says dreams can't come true? If you harbor such dreams, or see them in the eyes of your children, you owe it to yourself to find a dude ranch for your next vacation.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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