We had a week to put together the commitment ceremony for Helen and Kaycee if we were to have it on the next Saturday night. We talked about it at length with the pros and cons of various aspects of the event, much to the surprise of Helen. Mom and I were treating this very much like a wedding, including all the seriousness of the vows and commitment represented by the public declaration. We agreed that an early evening ceremony with a party afterwards with light snacks would be much better than trying any kind of dinner afterwards.

The guest list was established and emails sent to save time because of the short notice. However, due to the nature of the event, the guest list was relatively short. The list was finalized to include: Harry and Juli, Miss Stella, Dr. Anna (who was surprised when told by Helen but after their shared experience with the horse, not that surprised), Sharon and John, Bob and his wife, several of the clients we have trained personally, and Jayson, Tom, and Jake (but being out of town we weren’t sure about him). All told, we were expecting 16 or 17 guests to be present.

The long-range forecast was for clear skies and a high afternoon temperature of 85 degrees, which should be perfect for an outdoor ceremony. The details were coming together much easier than we imagined and there was little panic. We had a large tent and chairs reserved for delivery and setup that afternoon. As we expected, Jake wasn’t able to come but not because he lived in Denver but he would be on the East Coast on business that weekend. But, Jayson and Tom offered to serve as bartenders for the event to keep from having to hire anyone and to avoid anyone that may not be comfortable with the main event. I had to thank them for the consideration because it could have been a surprise for Helen, not to mention the outside servers once the ceremony got going.

Much of the week was able to remain largely like our normal. We made sure our runs in the morning happened on schedule and, of course, the dogs indicating their desire for us somewhere along the way and mating us. Evenings with Tim were a constant and it all meshed with the needs for pulling together details for the party.

Helen had been getting lessons from Juli on riding horses and caring for them afterwards. Juli indicated that she was doing very well and, like so many other things she tried, this seemed to be a natural for her. She said that Harry seemed itching to turn her into a cowgirl, at least a part-time one.

So, it wasn’t a complete surprise when Helen suggested to Mom and me that the three of us go horseback riding. It was Wednesday morning, Tim had left shortly before for work and the three of us were on the patio putting on our socks and running shoes for our morning run. The boys (there were three ‘boys’ now) weren’t anywhere in sight but that would change soon enough before we got very far into our run. It didn’t seem to matter where they might be on the property, at this time of the day they would find us by the time we crested the rise in back.