Thursday, March 30, 2006

Horseback Riding in Ojai

February 5, 2006

Melissa White ~ horseback riding in Ojai

This valley faces the foothills of Los Padres National Forest. I had the privilege of taking a 2 hour trail ride with Melissa White, horse owner (and manifester) extraordinaire. Before I even met her I knew we would hit it off. Sometimes a phone call is just that evident and transparent. I moseyed down in my brand new cowboy boots (not yet broken in on the range, only at USM and New Years...). My horse was Bo (or Bodacious if you will) while Melissa rode Willing Spirit. Both of these boys were her personal steeds and she talked to them like they were her kids. Tenderly and humorously with the MOM KNOWS BEST thrown in on occasion.

OH God but I love to ride. I told her about my saddle at home in my bedroom as well as the recent trip to Hawaii that included a family trail ride all over the Big Island. With a bit of coaxing Melissa began to tell her story and how she ended up with Western Trail Rides as a business. Taking notes was out of the question – as it was I could barely stop to snap photos – but I will attempt to convey her dream as it was told to me.

It was only a short 8 years ago Melissa began to take horse back riding lessons. As a young girl growing up in Santa Paula and Ojai, no doubt the smell of hay and sage began to beckon her toward this calling. But alas, her career as a teacher and administrator was the path she chose. What eventually drew her to the horse ring is not clear, but at 36 she traded her school teacher pumps for cowboy boots and took year long lessons. Educators love information and Melissa was riding and no doubt absorbing every inch of horse sense she could glean from her instructor. Before long every spare minute was spent at the Paradise Ranch, her weekly horse companion Bo would soon become her own horse for real. Joker (ne Willing Spirit) and McGinnis soon joined Bo and the beginnings of Western Trail Rides was born.

What made this experience so extraordinary for me? Was it Melissa’s vision for her business, her uncanny ability to name every flora and fauna on our 2 hour ride (watch out for the poison sumac, look at that button sage) or the twinkle in her voice as she described her ¾ acre purchase of her future home (now the boys can live with me!) I believe it was more than that. I felt inspired by her courage to test the limits of her faith by trusting that her passion would lead into a lucrative, soul satisfying business. Indeed, Melissa’s education and life experiences guided her toward fulfilling her life’s purpose: sharing nature and unconditional loving through animals with children’s camps and work-weary tourists. I left the stable with a lighter step and a renewed, reinforced belief that becoming conscious of and then living our dreams makes the journey here on Mother Earth a more graceful, grace-filled process.


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