Bill and Juanita, owners of Allenspark Lodge B&B, are living their dream...

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

"Manny" the Mannequin

At the Rocky Mt. Horse Expo this year, we watched one of the clinicians working with colt training.  I became interested as I was walking by and heard her say it was best not to get bucked off the first time you climb on a horse.  Boy, do I like that thought – also knowing we had just taken on a horse who had proven to enjoy bucking.  Maybe she had a hint or two, so I sat down in the stands to listen.  Of course, she was working with a couple of young, unhandled horses, but she progressed pretty quickly to the first time things are on their back – also mentioning that this process could be used on any age horse that would have the inclination to buck when first feeling weight.  Several of the ‘firsts’ had already been passed with Bill’s new boy, Alloy, but we were at the stage of restarting him under saddle.

Hence, we ‘built’ a mannequin, to be the first rider up.  There are products out there you can purchase, if you are going to do this a lot.  There is also the simple method:  take an old pair of jeans, sew up openings, and fill with ‘stuff’.  I think she said one pair of hers had clean shavings.  We don’t use shavings, but we use a lot of wood pellets, and hey, they cost approximately $5 for a 40# bag!
I took a pair of Bill’s jeans that were headed for the trash (we have a lot of our old jeans laying around here for various projects), sewed the holes together in the knees – so what if they have a bend in the knee; doesn’t your knee have a bend when you are riding – and stitched the bottom of the legs shut, and stitched the waistband together, leaving the zipper operable.  We used the zipper opening to fill/empty the ‘stuffing’.  So far, it has worked like a charm.  Yes, our mannequin weighs in at 42# when we got done, but both of us weigh considerably more than that and we wanted a true test.
Bill and 'Manny'
Today is test day.  We plan on saddling up Alloy in a small round pen type area and placing “Manny” in the saddle, hopefully tying the legs to the stirrups.  With young horses, you start with a smaller, lighter bean bag type and just lay it on their back, letting it slide around and fall off as they walk, so they get used to things that do fall (at some time in their life, something IS going to fall off them).  You want them to learn that it isn’t scary and they soon learn to even try to balance the item so it does not fall off.  As they progress to the balancing stage, you move on to a bigger, heavier mannequin like we made.  Al is past the first parts, but needs to learn it is not OK to buck with weight in the saddle.  Since neither of us is good at bronc riding, Manny gets to do the job; hence the reason for tying it to the saddle.  It needs to stay on!
Whatcha' got, Bill?  Notice Alloy is just ground tied.

Wow!  Can that horse buck?  So happy he waited until he was unsaddled and in his corral before the show started.  The mannequin in the saddle was such a non-issue.  He stood so still for saddling, then walked to the round pen and waited patiently while Bill ‘mounted’ the dummy rider and tied its legs to each stirrup, even tying a piece of twine from the waistband to the saddle horn.  

Hardly a blink of the eye, except when the camera would turn on or off, which caused the ears to come forward to alert position for a moment.  Walked around in the pen, got led outside in the driveways, stood tied to the hitchrail while we talked to a neighbor.
Walkin', walkin' outside any pen.
It was decided we should go for a short walk around the area, so I grabbed Washoe (who desperately needed some action) and we walked around a two-block area, stopping at the post office to show off a bit.  How nice – the post mistress had an apple to split for two sweet horses and another neighbor joined us to finish the walk home.  

I think Al has been taught to ‘smile’, because he showed off the flehmen grin a lot, asking for more apple, we’re sure.  He has one very proud owner right now.

Happy, happy, happy.
He finally got turned back out with the other horses and we expected some rolling in the dirt.  What we got was a bunch of ye-hawing and very nice bucks all around the corral!  Then he walked up behind Bill and followed him to the fence.  One big, huge non-event.  Expectations, according to Bill.  He behaved exactly as expected.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The New Guy

This is Ranger.  The horse.

There is a new guy in my herd.  Beel says it is okay for him to stay with me and eat the food we have.  There seems to be enough food so I think it is okay for now.

Beel calls the new horse "Al"-something.  Beel spends too much time with the "Al"-thing.  He brushes it and sometimes HE GIVES IT TREATS.  Beel always brushes me after.  And he gives me treats too.  But it is not right for him to be with the "Al"-kid.  I AM BEELS HORSE.  That is the way it is.  That is the way it should be.

When food comes the "Al"-ish will wait nicely until I have started eating.  Then he will come and ask nicely if he can eat with me.  That is the way it should be.  I do not bite or kick him much because he is good.  "That Mare" will also let the "Al"-it eat with her sometimes  Because he is poe-light.  And he asks nicely.  "The Kid" is not nice to the "Al"-horse even when the "Al"-guy is nice..  Beel says that is because The Kid is a jerk.

On one day Beel did come out and he sitted on my back and I walked around.  The "Al"-boy was very confused and followed Beel and me for a while.  It was good for Beel to sit on my back because I am Beels horse and that is the way it should be.  Beel sayed I looked very smug when he gotted off my back.  I think "smug" must mean handsome.

On this day Beel and the little person Beel calls Spring or Fall or Summer or something camed to us and putted head ropes on all of us the horses.  Winter putted a back chair on The Kid and Beel putted a back chair on me.  Then the Fall girl sitted on The Kid and dragged That Mare and Beel sitted on me and I dragged the Al-low.  We dragged all of the other horses around for some time.  Then we wented home.  Every one was nice and quiet and nobody bited or kicked or nothing.  I am very good at the training. Beel was very happy and I was happy too.

And that is the way it should be.

Ranger the horse.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Day in the Sun, i.e., Playtime

We have now had Alloy integrated into the herd for a couple of weeks; a necessity made by the weather gods.  We kept getting 6 - 12" dumps of snow, which made his little pen nearly impassible.  He was only being kept in it at night, anyway, so he wouldn't go wandering off over the now very short fences looking for human contact.  He is such a people horse!
Love this picture of Alloy and Bill.
Our outside water faucet froze so instead of stringing 125 ft. of hose to fill the heated water tank, we had to do some bucket patrol.  That's always fun!
After this picture was taken, we had another 8 in. of snow, so it came right up to the top rim of the tank.  We had to keep shoveling the path to it so the horses could get a drink without getting on their knees to reach the water when it would get lower.  To them, it was simpler to just eat snow according to Ranger.

We noticed the herd getting a little on the bored side, so we added some rocks to an empty milk jug and took it out for entertainment.  They loved to play with this at the 'cousins' house'.  Just like little children, the same toy was not interesting at home.
Alloy, who follows you around like a puppy dog.   "What's that?"
Jesse, who will wear anything, anywhere.
... and who will toss it back to you if you put it on her head.
Ranger - not impressed.

Don't be putting that on my butt!
Washoe, always glad to be helpful and point it out to you.

But what do you want me to do with it?
So maybe a little lesson time instead?  Such as how to properly stand still when someone is leaning on your back.
Alloy:  what are you doing?

Ranger:  he does this all the time.
Bill quickly learned it was best to spend time with Ranger whenever he spent time with Alloy, or there would be a price to pay.  I just laugh a lot because I've had that issue with my grays for 14 years now.

Bionic Cowgirl

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Raising the Limit

J - Really Alloy?  Another walk-about?  Must keep you from getting bored!
The snow across this back yard is 3 feet deep, but it did not stop his dinner time journey.
B - I have an idea.  We'll make the fence look higher.  It is only about 18" tall right here.

So adding boards to the top of the buck fence and adding two rows of rope ... well, we can only hope.  But for good measure, Alloy has lost his rights to freedom at night.  We spent lots of energy and a good deal of time literally carving him a slot in his pen.
His feeder next to a 5 foot stack of hay.
His heated water tank in the corner, with a path carved around his very own 5 foot pile of snow.
Yep, the water tank is on the other side of the snow pile.  He has to walk in one side and out the other.  Maybe he should learn to appreciate the time he gets to spend in the larger pen with company!
This is where he gets to spend the night time for now.  He gets put in at dusk; out at dawn.  It's working for now.
While we are working?  He's napping in the sunshine.  He seems to have put on a touch of weight and hair.  Not a sign of cold or shivering from him since we brought him home.  We could not have hoped for as much.  Ranger and Jesse have taken to him; Washoe ... not so much, which is part of the reason he goes walk-about.
Bionic Cowgirl

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Coming To Terms

B-  Hey Ranger! How's the old horse doing?

R-  I am good today Beel.

B-  Wonderful!  You are talking to me again.  You've been giving me the cold shoulder for the last few days.  I walk up to talk and you walk away.  Hey!  Where are you going?

R-  I forgotted.  I am going away now.

B-  Come on buddy, let's talk about this.  It's about the new horse, Alloy, isn't it?


B-  Aw, for crying out loud.  He'll never replace you.  You are the horse.  How about a nice head scratch?

R-  That has good feels Beel.  More would be more good.

B-  Okay pal.  Just for you.  (Scratch) So how is Alloy doing hanging out with y'all?  Is he behaving?

R-  He is not very bad.  But he eats my food.  We will run out.  There is always just barely enough.

B-  (Scratch scratch)  Trust me my fuzzy friend, we'll put in more food so you all get enough.(Scratch scratch)  Alloy won't eat it all.

R-  Al-fred eats some and that is too much.

B- Alloy.

R-  What ever.

B-  Any other problems with him or the other two horses?  (Scratch scratch)

R-  That Mare and The Kid do not want him to eat their food.  So sometimes they chase An-noy.

B-  Alloy.

R-  What ever.

B-  (Scratch)  Any other complaints?

R-  He is kind of jumpy when we try to bite him.  It is hard to bite Al-arm like he needs.

B-  Alloy.

R-  What ever.

B-  Other problems?  (Scratch)

R-  He does not follow the rules very good.  He runs away over the fence and down the road.  That is very bad.  I telled him "You should not do that Al-po".

B-  Alpo.   Funny you should call him that.

R-  What ever.

B-  (Scratch scratch)  Well, how about a quick ride around the corral bare-back, Ranger?

R-  Okay.  Say Beel.  Al-ong is following us around the yard.

B-  Alloy.  I think he's a little jealous.

R-  What ever.  I am not ever jell-loose.  Because you are my people.

B-  That's right.  Whatever you say, buddy.  What ever.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Dark and Stormy Night

A gentle snow was falling, the clouds obscuring the full moon.  The wind was blowing, howling at times, dead calm the next moment.  No problem, Juanita was out feeding the horses and I was inside the lodge getting ready to fix dinner.  I took a moment for a quick trip to the restroom and just as I closed the door Juanita hollered at me from the front door.

"Bill!  Get your boots on!"  I could hear the urgency in her voice.  "We have a horse gone."

"Which horse?"  I asked as I was putting on my insulated boots.  The look on her face explained what a stupid question that was.  "Oh.  Alloy." I said.

We had just spent some time introducing Alloy the mustang to the rest of our herd.  As we had 3 other mustangs that have pretty good manners when meeting new horses, Alloys introduction went very well.  We took the other horses back to their pen, and left Alloy in his.  We were going to spend a little more time the next day getting them all used to each other.

Alloy took offense.  He had a new herd now, and they were gone.  It was obviously up to him to go find them. 

He failed.

The deep snow had made the fence and gates less effective, so he squashed a gate and got out.

Juanita and I split up and followed his tracks around the nearby fields.  The snow was deep.  We had had almost 3 feet of snow with temperatures well below zero degrees F.  Then a day of rain, which crusted the layer of snow.  Then we had another foot or two of snow on top of that.  One would be shuffling along in knee deep snow, and then break through to crotch deep.  I MUST get my snow shoes repaired.

We spent 20 minutes following his looping tracks that finally lead out to the plowed road and off to parts unknown.  He had about an hour head start on us so I went back to start up the pickup truck.  It has 4 wheel drive which I figured would be a good thing.

As Juanita was following the hoof prints left on the skiff of snow on the road, a sheriff's car passed.  Juanita flagged him down with the halter she was carrying.  Sheriff's Deputy Dan rolled his window down and asked her "You looking for a horse?"  She said "Yes I am!"  He told her that he had gotten a call from one of the volunteer firemen in the area about a loose horse heading into Rocky Mountain National Park, a couple miles down the highway from us.  He had tracked it into an area that was too deep to drive through, so he came back to town, and saw her.  I drove up in the truck after he finished talking to Juanita and had headed down the hill and he told me the same tale.  I headed up the hill and picked Juanita up and we headed toward the Copeland Lake area where he had been spotted.

We kept getting out of the truck and following the tracks whenever Alloy left the road.  He would loop out through the deep snow, and then head back to the road.  What a jerk.  He finally decided to stick to the road.  Deputy Dan drove back toward us and said he had found a new set of foot prints on the road another mile or 2 to the north that hadn't been there last time he drove by.

I got really excited and turned the truck around on the narrow dirt road.  About half way turned around.  I'm not sure I've been THAT stuck since I was a teenager.  Deputy Dan drove back and pulled me out.  (Thanks Dan.  I owe you for that.)

We went another mile down the road and the hoof prints lead up someones drive and right by their front door.  But he didn't stop, he just went cross country again.  Jerk.  So I followed him on foot.  I've REALLY got to get those snowshoes fixed.

Alloy found another road after a million miles of cross country in deep snow and went up it.  WAY up the little dirt road. After a half mile or so, the tracks started looking fresh.  Soon the tracks were fresh, and left by a running horse.


He was probably only a hundred yards or so ahead of me, and running away.


I started talking softly and calmly.

"Alloy, come on back here.  Just stand where you are for a moment so I can catch you and take you to the rendering plant and feed all of the good dogs in Colorado with your useless carcass."

I rounded another curve on the road, and there he was.  Just standing there like a good boy.

Now you may have noticed that I have talked about Juanita having a halter, but not talked about me having one.  It was still in the truck.  With Juanita.  Miles from me.


So, I took off my belt, wrapped it around his neck (barely reaches) and started leading him back down the hill to the highway.  I met Deputy Dan about halfway back, and he drove off to meet Juanita and tell her where we were.  She brought a halter.

Now, our horse trailer had been snowed in, so the only way to get him home was to walk.


So I walked him home on the side of the highway, three and a half miles on the slick, ice glazed pavement of the highway.  Alloy and I walking, Juanita following in the truck, with Deputy Dan bringing up the rear.  Looks like we got us a convoy.  Alloy was behaving and leading perfectly.  He would only jump a little when a snowplow went by, or a truck with chains.

But evey time we passed a stretch of his footprints by the road, I would point to them and say to Alloy-


We got home, put Alloy in the horse trailer as a box stall to keep him warm, thanked Deputy Dan for his (over and above) help, and went to bed thinking "Tomorrow is another day."

Then I got to pee.



Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Introduction (picture & video heavy)

We arrived home with Alloy, the new member of our mustang herd, at 11:30 p.m. - after fighting 99 mph winds from the southern CO border - and then hitting ice coming up our own canyon.  20 miles going 20 mph in 4-wheel low.  We, for once, were very thankful we were pulling an old all-steel trailer.  Alloy traveled like a perfect gentleman for the whole trip, but you could tell he was just 'done with it' after the last section.

With the 18 in. of snow we had gotten at home after leaving, we knew we wouldn't be able to move him into his own pen, so plan B was to leave him in the trailer until morning and we could get a slot setup in a neighbor's barn temporarily.  So we took all the panels out of the trailer (a 3 horse slant load) turning it into a stock trailer - essentially a big box stall, got him some warm water to drink and left him munching on his hay net.
Less than enthused, but a good sport.
We had called ahead to have the front parking lot plowed so there would be a place to pull in that late.  It was a good thing.
We tried to dig into Al's pen, but gave it up.
We used some rope and poles laying around to make him an enclosure that was mostly wind proof and kept the snow off him.  It was about 22 degrees here and he had just come from California.
There is a really nice pipe corral connected to this stall and we left the gate open so he could claim it all.  He had a good time exploring the space.

Once he got the feel of it, he did a couple of rounds on the go.  Sure was pretty to watch.
We were only expecting the one good day of weather before another storm, so we decided that we would bring the other horses over for a meet-and-greet.  With this much snow on the ground, they couldn't get too rough with each other and it was a big space if they wanted to rough house.
To say it was anti-climatic is an understatement.  A formal hello from Ranger, a sniff from Washoe, and Jesse wouldn't leave my side.  All done.

Alloy was more interested in digging for grass in the snow.  I don't know how he knew there really was grass under that snow, from the warm weather we had before the storm hit, but he thought it would be better than the hay we had put in his stall.
Ranger  thinks Al doesn't know what snow if really for.

This is Ranger, Bill's 30 year old that will be teaching Al the ropes, so to speak.
Jesse and Washoe have a different way of enjoying the snow.

So, introducing Alloy ....

Bionic Cowgirl

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


One of the Colorado horse trainers that Juanita and I follow trains mustangs.  Her name is Jessica.  She has regularly placed in the top 10 in the "Extreme Mustang Makeover" series.  Raw mustangs are assigned randomly to the trainers, and they are then trained for about 3 months.  Then they are taken to a show with 20-40 other mustangs and put through their paces, so to speak.  After the show, prizes are awarded to the trainers and the horses are auctioned off.

Mustangs that have not been handled are auctioned off by the BLM starting at $125, and go up a little from there if the coloring/confirmation is unique or quite good.  The trained mustangs at the end of the Extreme Mustang Makeover tend to sell for $500-$10,000, depending on how they showed and how many people are bidding.

Now, I trained my old mustang Ranger.  Or more accurately he trained me.  Ranger is now about 30 years old and he is not very interested in rides of more than an hour or so, so I have started looking for a younger mount for longer rides.  I had pretty well decided I didn't want to start from the ground up on another horse, but I did want another mustang.  I think Juanita had gotten tired of only short trail rides, so for my birthday I was going to get a horse.

Jessica the trainer had a horse that caught my eye.  She called him "Alloy".  Short, just over 14 hands.  Plain, just a bay with no white socks or snips or blazes or nothing.  No "chrome" at all. But she felt he would make a very good trail horse.  I followed his training on Jessica's facebook page, and I was going to bid on him at the 2016 EMM show in Ft. Worth, Texas.  Unfortunately, he did pretty well in the show, and the bidding went out of my reach in just a few moments.


I went back to looking for a new trail horse prospect, with no success.


Then, in mid December, I got a call from Jessica.  It seemed that Alloy wasn't going to work out for the lady that bought him, and she asked if I was still interested.  I told her yes, but my cash in hand had stayed the same.  I could not pay more than my last failing bid.  "No problem" was the reply.




So, now we drive to San Diego with a horse trailer and pick up Alloy.  We spent a couple days visiting friends in southern Arizona before going to Alloy's new trainer's facility just north of San Diego to get Alloy.  We stayed with friends about a 20 minute drive from the trainer's place so we could spend a day working with Alloy.

It was in the mid 60's there in California, and we had temps of -15 degrees back home in Allenspark, so we practiced putting him in a plaid school-girl's dress and then loading him in the trailer, just in case we needed it.
He loaded up pretty well.  Better than Ranger, anyway.

So, off we go with Alloy in tow for another overnight stay in Arizona.  It took about 8 hours and then Alloy got to stay in the ranch's round pen from about 10:PM til 7:AM, and we were on the road again.

The trip from southern AZ to Allenspark usually takes about 14 hours counting rest stops for the horse.

Lunch stop at Blake's  LotaBurger.  Double green chili.  Heaven on earth.

 This trip took closer to 16 hours.  There were KILLER winds blowing from Pueblo, CO to Colorado Springs.  We saw 19 tractor/trailer rigs blown off the interstate and lying on their sides  Ninety nine MPH gusts had been reported.  Sometimes I feel bad about having a heavy, steel trailer making bad fuel mileage heading down the road.  Not this time.  The wind beat us up a little, but no real problems.  Then we reached snow and ice heading up the mountain to get home.  Twenty miles at 20 MPH.  We got home late, and just pulled the panels out of the trailer to make a nice box stall for Alloy to keep him out of the weather. 

He was from Colorado originally, so he didn't panic with the snow, but he didn't look thrilled...


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Herd at Allenspark Lodge B&B

Thought we would have some fun with the ponies today.

Merry Christmas from ALL of us!