Cowboys & Indians

MY NEW MEXICO

IT WAS LATE MARCH. I WAS ON A SUNDAY morning horseback ride at the Rancho Encantado with the part-time wrangler who was mainly an architect. It had snowed the night before, just a few inches, and sparkling crystals of the stuff glittered on the mountains and arroyos of Tesuque, New Mexico, just north of Santa Fe, as we rode, brushing up against piñons and junipers. Cornflower blue skies and nothing else in sight. I was riding Sydney, a chunky little sorrel quarter horse with an easygoing temperament. The whole world seemed newly created: fresh, peaceful, hushed — just the crunch of our horses’ hooves and their quickened breaths after we loped them. I felt like anything was possible. “Spring snow,” offered the wrangler. “It’ll be gone by afternoon.”

It was. But I never forgot it. I still remember that fateful trip 30 years later. The turkey sandwiches and margaritas that Rancho Encantado matriarch Betty Egan — long-legged in jeans and cowboy boots, her hair in a thick white braid — offered me and my colleague upon our late-night arrival. The handwritten invite to Santacafé. The tiny Tesuque post office that’s rarely crowded.

I flew back to Los Angeles to edit the New Mexico filmmaking issue of The Hollywood Reporter that had brought me to Santa Fe in the first place. I love Los Angeles too. Still, Santa Fe felt like a point of destiny for me, just as L.A. was. I moved here. I bought my own sorrel horse: Ryo, a muscular little mustang whom I loved through time and space and always felt connected to even when I was 1,000 miles away. I was braver on Ryo than alone. We loped into the wilderness, and I felt like all was right with the world and I would find the places I was meant to go.

Together we discovered much of what I love about New Mexico. Ryo’s gone now. He died after 15 stellar years together roaming Tesuque’s hills. But the spirit of discovery remains.

What I love most about New Mexico is the open landscape that calms me, the grounded feeling I get driving along

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