Yesterday, I was one with nature! And what a feeling it was.

A few weeks ago some good friends, Bruce and Ellen Fagan asked us to join them for a picnic and some horseback riding in Geneva Florida scheduled for Sat. Oct. 27. They invited another super fun couple and their kids as well, Chad and Christy Crawford. We all planned on meeting up around 1 and having a day in the sun.

Unfortunately for us, the sunny Florida day was more like a typical day in Seattle. It was rainy and cloudy and a bit chilly. Still, we got a bit of riding in after our delicious lunch of Sloppy Joes and fruit salad. Everyone got a turn in the ring with the owner Renee teaching and coaching.

The kids were walked around in a small corral and most everyone got on one docile white horse that didn’t t have a lot of “kick”. She was tame and sweet and it took everything for the adults to get her to get up to a trot. She was perfect for a first time rider.

(Of course, when I arrived, I had on my “Coyote Ugly” tank shirt, jeans and my cutest cowboy boots. I walked and talked like I was some sort of western wrangler and told Renee, the owner that I had ridden a lot in my life but I still needed some direction. Okay, I have to say, that I FEEL like I’m a cowgirl inside.. I KNOW I love and relate to animals and they mostly love me, and I know that I ADORE being in the wild outdoors more than anything besides being in NYC. But the REALITY is.. is that I’ve been stuck in the “BURBS” for the past 7 years and haven’t explored much of the outdoors besides my own back yard, and a few parks here and there. And, those cute cowboy boots? Well, they’re about 15 years old and look like they’re brand new. So, while I know who I am on the inside, the reality hasn’t fit that picture for many years. But, after yesterday, I’m bound and determined to get back to my true, authentic self, and get back to riding and being comfortable on a feisty horse.)

So, Renee, seeing my ol’ comfortable horsy looking self, she saddled up JACK, a beautiful chestnut horse, with the most beautiful brown eyes. I told Jack that I was just getting comfortable again and to be easy on me, but he decided to test me anyway. I did a few boring circles around the small corral and then took it out to the larger ring. That’s where we did a little trotting, some cantering..and wwwwwhhhhhhhooooooaaa…. Oh my gosh.. some very intense galloping for about 5.2 seconds before I told ol’ Jack to HOE.

Which he did. Whew. I survived that little intense gallop that Jack threw at me to test my will to stay on him while he exploded in a fast gallop underneath me.

Okay, so I was a tad bit nervous, but I also felt the saddle under my legs, and the rain pouring on my wet jeans and water rolling down my face and bare arms and I felt FREE, FREE, FREE. It was the most incredible knowing that I just have to be out with the animals. I love rubbing them down and talking with them and telling them how beautiful they are. I love looking in their eyes and seeing them talk back to me through their eyes and how they respond to me.

Then, I loved seeing my son play in the dirt with the other kids, and climb the fence to pet the horses. He loves the animals too and feels 100% comfortable in their presence. I know that I have to get him out there more, and let him roam around and feel the breeze and the dirt and what it feels like to be one with a horse when you’re riding and you move together as you roam the countryside. Ahhhh.. it’s a beautiful experience.

No wonder I always loved cowboy movies! They’re doing what I want to do!

After we all brought the horses in because of the rain, I set myself up on an old tractor acting like I owned the place. I kicked back and relaxed and looked around the barn and thought, I am at home. I love it here. This is apart of who I am, and a part of me that I want to see more of. I want to nurture that ol’ wild girl in me… the one who wants to go on trail rides and explore the earth up close. This is a part of old Florida, and not one this suburban mommy gets to explore often. It was just incredible and I expect to be there more especially since Renee has tempted me with the thought of some off country trial rides!

Renee’s place is Court Ranch in Geneva Florida, next to Sanford. It’s straight up 17-92, and then East on 46 until Cochran road. Then it’s 1 ½ miles of paved road and 1 ½ miles of a dirt road until you arrive. She boards horses and she has room for 21 horses. She’s got 10 of her own and will board more horses now that she’s sold some. She’ll take couples on romantic trail rides and entertain kids in smaller birthday parties. Her favorite is to host adults who want to get back to nature a bit and just want to be around horses. Ranches like hers always need ranch hands, so helping out is also a fun way to be around the horses.

Boarding a horse is about $500 a month and Renee says that the horses “get fed before she does”. She’s been known to stay up all night taking care of a sick horse, and she treats them just like family. Her stables are beautiful and there are incredible trails available to go out and explore. Renee, who is Kansas born and bred, is a lot of fun and was incredibly patient with each of us, even me.. as we got reacquainted with the horses. She showed me how to take off the bridle and put on the one for the stall. She was great to hang with, and I believe, is sitting on a gold mine. I’d love to share this experience with my friends.

For more information about her ranch and boarding a horse or weekend daily riding fees with Renee, contact her at (407)468-2783 or email her at She’s 560 S. Cochran Road, Geneva, FL, or “God’s country” as I call it.