I love a good Western. Whether it’s a classic Zane Grey or John Wayne flick, or a modern interpretation, there is something about the violent simplicity of the old American West. When men were men and the women were innocent and beautiful. At least that’s how I pictured it. Contrary to what my kids might tell you, I am not that old and I was not there to witness it firsthand.

    And, of course, in a modern, technology driven city like Portland, the simplistic and rustic ideals of the old West are a bit lost. But, the beauty of living here in Portland is that farms and nature are never far. Horses, even these can be found nearby. And, what would a good western be without a bearded man in a ten-gallon cap riding off with his lady on his trusted steed?

    So, out in nearby Yamhill-Carlton County, where the hills are green and livestock seemingly outnumber the humans residing on these sprawling properties, large homes and rustic environs, Fiddlestix Ranch is offering up their equestrian expertise to novice cowboy wannabes, like myself.

    So, my wife surprised me and bought me Western style riding lessons out at Fiddlestix. Run by Sarah Kimmel, who had a girlhood dream realized when she opened Fiddlestix Ranch. Here, families and horses join forces through Western and English style riding lessons. Instead of the dirty dusty roads of the south Western United States, here, you get your lesson in the serene green of the beautiful Oregon countryside. The lessons occur in a trimmed 9,600-square-foot outdoor riding arena and its indoor 7,200-square-foot indoor riding arena, both of which provide sufficient room for trotting and cantering.

    I decked out in my modern, faux-Cowboy outfit, not sure what to wear. Jeans, a Garth brooks style color-blocked shirt, bolo tie and, of course, a ten-gallon hat. The trip to Fiddlestix, less than thirty minutes from Downtown Portland, was gorgeous beyond words. Anyone who has lived or visited here knows what I am talking about: Green, rolling hills stretching for miles, stately deciduous trees and, of course, Mt. Hood as the backdrop.

    I arrived for my lesson, somewhat jittery as horseback riding is not something that I have participated in since I was a boy. You forget how massive these animals are. These animals would not give it a second thought to break my foot with one of their massive hooves or bite my fingers as I feed them carrots and oats.

    But, then, our instructor began instructing about, by the time the forty-five minute session was over, I felt as confident as John Wayne. I even had visions of lassoing cattle and quick shooting from the hip. Maybe I’ll never own a horse while live in Portland (though many areas within the city limits are zoned for livestock), but, at least now I know it won’t be that hard to take a ride on one of these trusty steeds.

    For more information and to schedule your lesson, visit

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