A Story of Love at First Sight, Trail Guiding, and Trusting the Journey

A Story of Love at First Sight, Trail Guiding, and Trusting the Journey

I haven’t met many people who move around as much as we do.

4 Months ago, we were in Meeteetse, Wyoming. A year before that, Big Sandy, Montana. And 4 months before that, Eureka, Nevada. Before Nevada, I was living in my home state; California.

I guess all this packing up and moving to the next place comes with being married to a cowboy. We like to see new country, and we’re always in pursuit of a better opportunity. I like to think that someday when we find the perfect fit, the best opportunity for building a future family, we’ll finally be able to call somewhere “Home.” But, who knows when that will come around, or if it has already.

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This crazy life on the road with my husband started in 2020. Or maybe I can even claim 2017, when I first met Zach. We have a typical small town “how we met” story that starts with me going to school with his little brother. I already knew his family, and knew about his family’s business, so when I moved back home a year after I graduated high school and decided I didn’t want to do college anymore … working for Zach’s family was an easy decision.

What I didn’t know was that my friend’s older brother was smoking hot.

My second week of building fence, I was passed off to Zach’s crew. When he picked me up that morning, and I realized exactly who I would be working for, I was shocked. That first day, he showed me how to use a skid steer to roll up wire, and I already knew that I was head over heels for the dude. Having dealt with my share of assholes by the time I was 19, I had never met anyone that was so willing to teach, so patient with my lackluster machinery skills, and so dang cute at the same time.

That night, I came back home to my mom’s house and told her that I was going to marry my new boss.

I didn’t know how right that was at the time, I was only trying to watch my choice of words as I expressed the things I wanted to do to him to my incredibly conservative mother... (I know, I know, TMI.) I was chronically shy back then – who am I kidding, I still am - but eventually through that week and the following ones, I learned everything I needed to know about him.

He was single, and he was on Tinder.

My time working for the fencing company was limited, as I was solely waiting for my new hire paperwork to go through so I could start a job at the Post Office. But as soon as he dropped me off at home on my last day, I was on Tinder trying to find Zach and trying to make it look like an act of "fate".

I adjusted my search parameter to include where I knew he lived, extended my age criteria to 26 (old fart), and swiped until he came across my screen. I remember exactly where I was when I finally found him - driving Highway 32 on the way home from the movies with my friends. I swiped up to super like him, and the rest is history now. 

 Yep, I totally scored.

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Okay, okay, now that you guys know every little detail about how I stalked and captured Zach, my personal cowboy and tie to this crazy world -  I guess I can delve a little more into my childhood and how I began my love of horses and the western industry before he was even on the radar…

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This story has a pretty simple beginning: My mom was a crazy horse lady.

When I was 3 years old, she purchased a 3 year old un-started Arabian/Welsh mare and apparently determined that this was the perfect horse for her daughter to grow up on. So, that was the start of my rocky upbringing with horses.

Over the years, my mom put me through more and more lessons, and I eventually had a lot under my belt for a 13 year old. I showed Western and English flat classes, did trail trials and poker rides, competed in hunter hack and took jumping lessons, did some low level dressage courses, and partook in playdays and gymkhanas. And even though I was a decent rider, I rarely ever won a class. I didn’t have the $20,000 horses to compete on like the other girls, and my (then) 13 year old mare wouldn’t take anything except for a bitless bridle or snaffle, eliminating me from a lot of western shows.

I was totally over showing, over competition, over horses, and I didn’t want to do any of it anymore. So I quit.

Kate Biaggi, Western Graphic Designer astride a pony holding 2 Blue Ribbons

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But the story didn't end there.

When I was a freshman in high school, I tried out for the Field Hockey team and befriended another gal who became a goalie with me. She had grown up rodeoing, and she and I quickly became friends.

I followed her around to rodeos across California, warmed up her horses for her in the arena, “Yogi-bear’d” beers from random coolers in the back of random trucks in the parking lot, and happily rode around her ponies all weekend (acting like a fool) until was her turn to compete. Those weekends were absolutely feral, and I quickly learned to love the high school rodeo culture, even though I didn’t rodeo myself.

Our sophomore year of high school, we started trail guiding together up in Lake Tahoe, and my mom was stoked to see me getting back into horses.

So stoked, that when I was 16, she let me move in with a Craigslist stranger who was offering a room in Lake Tahoe for the summer. This “early adulthood” as I call it, was so freeing for me. I finally enjoyed being on a horse again – as long as I was being paid and could live 3 hours away from home while being an unaccompanied minor, of course.

Trail Guiding quickly became my passion and although I had to return home for the school years, I worked at that stables in Tahoe the next 3 summers, only ceasing when I moved home to start my Postal Career.

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Meeting Zach didn’t end my love for trail guiding, and I actually returned to the “profession” when we were living in Nevada. Living over an hour and a half from town didn’t give me very many job prospects, so I took advantage of the opportunity and fled to Montana to go live out my Trail Guiding dreams once again.

The ranch I had initially planned on working for that summer was in Whitefish, and I only spent a month or two there before I decided that it was absolutely NOT what I had been expecting. Being within proximity of Glacier National Park, I knew I could find a better gig and two weeks later I was leading trail rides for a new company within the Park.

I got to see and experience so much that summer. Living in East Glacier, I got to watch grizzly bears wrestle in the meadow outside of our cabin, spot moose and elk along the trails, witness mountain goats causing traffic jams in the parking lots, soak in stunning mountain views, track down waterfalls, soak in glacial lakes, and so much more. I lived in a canvas tent for 2 months with only a barrel fireplace to stay warm, learned to pack a string of horses, and half-died hiking and maintaining trails within the park.

It was a once in a lifetime experience.

Canvas Tent Camp of Kate Biaggi, Western Graphic Designer

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I guess a common theme within my life is loving new experiences, and it seems real on-brand that I fell in love with a cowboy and get to move across the country every time the scenery gets old. I’m only 25, but I feel like I have lived so many lives, experienced so much this world and culture has to offer, and really made the most of my time here.

I started Western Identity because I valued this time I get to spend with my husband, and I value the flexibility of getting to pick up and find a new place to experience every time the wind blows.

I’m still at the point in all of this that I still have to work town jobs, but this business has allowed me so much flexibility in getting to put that off for as long as possible. Someday, I know I’ll get to work from cow camp, not worry about being close to town, and exclusively work for myself.

The journey to get here has been beautiful, and there is no way I’ll be giving this up anytime soon. Thanks for being on this ride with me. It wouldn’t look the same without you.

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