GIDDY-UP PARDNER

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din­ner. The ranch has Texas’s only Forbes fives­tar rated res­tau­rant – and the prickly pear cac­tus sor­bet turned out to be a de­li­cious rev­e­la­tion.

I love to be out­doors, to have my cob­webs blown away by bright sun­shine and a warm breeze. But could I cope with do­ing this while on a horse? I hadn’t rid­den for 10 years and had never been a nat­u­ral, but I was keen to get back in the sad­dle. I re­turned to my ha­cienda un­der a blan­ket of stars and was soon tucked up in bed, where I was lured to sleep by the sounds of crick­ets and the glow of a log fire, to dream of trails and swish­ing tails.

The horses at Dos Brisas are treated just as well as the hu­man guests, with their own team of per­sonal train­ers, al­ler­gists, nu­tri­tion­ists, masseurs and a per­sonal chef. This may ex­plain their good na­ture. I climbed on to my horse, Kiss, and as my cow­boy boots rested against her flanks I felt ready for any­thing.

We set off on a trail through the rocky land­scape, un­der canopies of Span­ish moss, over bab­bling streams and through fields of Texas blue­bon­nets. Snakes and lizards darted along­side us as a hawk cir­cled over­head. De­spite the chal­lenges of the for­eign ter­rain, I felt strong and pre­pared, thanks to my lovely guide and, of course, the sure-footed Kiss.

Two hours in, I had a huge de­sire to ride un­til sun­set (it was only mid­day) but my body was al­ready start­ing to ache for a bath of Ep­som salts.

How­ever, cow­girls don’t get a lot of rest so it was straight on to the shoot­ing prac­tice af­ter re­turn­ing to the ranch and say­ing good­bye to Kiss.

“Some guests re­ally take to this and get all An­nie Oak­ley about it,” my in­struc­tor in­formed me, as she loaded clay pi­geons into a nearby con­trap­tion.

I was ner­vous han­dling the gun, which felt cum­ber­some in my grip, but with care­ful in­struc­tion I fo­cused and pulled the trig­ger into the sky. It was soon ob­vi­ous, af­ter hit­ting just two of the 10 “pi­geons”, that I was not a nat­u­ral. An­nie can keep her gun!

I soon de­cided that I was bet­ter suited to a gen­tle can­ter (but note that all lev­els of rid­ing abil­ity are wel­come) through a for­est trail.

There was also the op­tion of fish­ing and archery to con­tinue my cow­girl train­ing, but the tub was call­ing my aching limbs. This was fol­lowed by an evening spent around the camp­fire with other guests de­vour­ing s’mores (a marsh­mal­low-and-

‘You are in this ha­cienda with a fab­u­lous fire­place and amaz­ing soak­ing tub, then you step out­side to ranch life: au­then­tic small-town Texas and good, down­home cook­ing’

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