The forty minute haul and a starving wallet of a college student don’t mix well when a girl’s got to get to her horse. Nash Hill Equestrian Center was hard to say good bye to but before I knew it Raven and I were off to another adventure at a closer barn, North Star Riding Academy in Perrysburg, New York. I was an intern at Buffalo Spree Publishing later that summer after moving to North Star in February of 2011 and I moved in with my boyfriend, lots of changes but it was then that I became a big fan of the western New York region. On days off I’d go to visit Raven and ride and bath her for numerous hours. I could without a doubt say that it was one of the most memorable summers because I had that ever so satisfying feeling of calm and that things were going so right.

November came all too soon and I was itching to see Raven more often throughout the week just to escape from school and pleasure myself with a small piece of home (well an 800 lb piece of home). I wanted a place that was home like, quaint, scenic and above all, well fitting for my baby girl, Raven. Starlight Falls Ranch, located conveniently in Fredonia about 5 miles from campus, came across my google map search and I gave owners, Lori and Joe a call.

There were new friends to be made as we loaded and unloaded Raven on and off the Starlight Falls Ranch’s trailer. We were at last, home. A home overlooking a blue barn with the perfect amount of white fencing gave me the smallest glimpse of what I hope my future home will look like.

Before long I had new friends, a new place to feel at home while away from my own and enjoy a movie with good company. Their home, embellished with western nick knacks and photographs of time well spent was far different than the ribbon and trophy lined houses I had known before. Fun videos and games were a way of entertainment when it came to horses; barrel racing, pole bending, Extreme Cowboy…these are things I don’t quite know enough about just yet but it was something intriguing, to see such fun and contentment in riding for fun.

I was first introduced to BRWNY (Barrel Racers of Western New York) when we took a trailer trip with the horses over to my first stable in western New York, Nash Hill, for game night. As more and more horses, western tack (equipment), trailers and trucks flooded the premises I couldn’t help but notice the gentle nature and kindness that showed through hugs and language from one rider to another. It was in many ways, a get together. Each horse and rider made their way into the ring, following a particular pattern and their time was calculated and announced after they were finished. It didn’t matter if you messed up or did it completely wrong, too fast or too slow. It was only my second time ever riding in western gear but I barrel raced and unharnessed Raven to a looser and more laid back style of riding, one where she could burn a little rubber and not be penalized for it in a show ring. One squeal from my mare as we booked around a blue barrel was I guess her way of saying yee haw!