postheadericon Dreaming like cowboys dream

Ted Harbin rides Carr Pro Rodeo's Ronnie in the ranch's arena. (LYNETTE HARBIN PHOTO)

Ted Harbin rides Carr Pro Rodeo's Ronnie in the ranch's arena. (LYNETTE HARBIN PHOTO)

My 10-year-old, Laney, takes a break from riding Scoot. (LYNETTE HARBIN PHOTO)

My 10-year-old, Laney, takes a break from riding Scoot. (LYNETTE HARBIN PHOTO)

Scoot is a beautiful palomino who performs really well. Jeff Collins says you can head and heel on him, and he’s easy to work with.

Ted is nearly 45 years old and hasn’t been horseback since he was 16. But I stepped up on Scoot like I meant business, even if I damn near overshot the saddle and ended up on the ground anyway.

We went to the arena on the Carr Pro Rodeo ranch, me riding Scoot and Jeff leading Ronnie, the other palomino that we were going to lead around for my 3-year-old daughter. I rode for a little bit, then handed to reins over to my 10-year-old.

Carr Pro Rodeo ranch manager Jeff Collins feeds the animals every morning. (LANEY GRAHAM PHOTO)

Carr Pro Rodeo ranch manager Jeff Collins feeds the animals every morning. (LANEY GRAHAM PHOTO)

On the ground, I realized just how long it had been since I’d done that – yeah, basic math tells you I haven’t been in a saddle in nearly 29 years. More importantly than that is the fact that I was about 190 pounds back then, frail compared to my 250, which is there only after losing about 40 pounds over the last couple of years.

You see, I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy, but I’ve never been. I consider myself blessed to be able to tell their stories, but my dreams are of riding and roping and branding. My hands tell you a story of delicate work like typing, but they get to shake calloused palms of men who have felt the rope burns and the splinters.

Jeff Collins is one of those men, a cowboy who has been horseback most of his life and who takes to his tasks on the Carr ranch as if every acre, every fence line and every animal on the place is his. He’s also a winner in the arena, the 2000 bareback riding world champion.

On Friday afternoon, he took a cowboy-wannabe and two little girls itching to ride horses on a great adventure. It was one of many my family and I shared during our few days in east Texas this past week. It’s one we’ll remember for years to come, and we have the photos to help.

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