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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 2017 Snow Storm

I hear Bill muttering in the office; when I ask what's wrong he says, "We are under a winter storm warning for the next two days. 1 - 3 feet expected."  This time they were right.  Raining when we went to bed Wed. night; 14" on the ground in the morning - and not stopping.

Finally (Friday) this morning the sun comes out and we have a count of 36".  Wonderful spring storms.  Gotta love 'em!
The horses keep the corral stomped into baths, so all we have to do is shovel our way TO the corral, because you don't walk too far in thigh-deep snow.
We shoveled last night to get extra hay to the horses, and had an additional 6" in the track this morning.  The biggest problem we have found using our slow feed feeders is that they get packed with snow when it comes down this heavy and the horses can't paw the snow off to get to the hay, so when we went to feed this morning, the feeders themselves were still full after the snow melted off.
This is the horse's shed, which a couple of them actually used part of the night.  The horses themselves.....

....were happy to have their feed boxes back - except for Al, who has become quite the camera mooch.
Bionic Cowgirl

Monday, May 15, 2017

My Day

This morning I left Juanita fixing breakfast while I spent over an hour driving down the mountain for my annual physical.  I spent over an hour at the Dr's office.  Then I spent over an hour driving home.

Early this afternoon, I spent over an hour changing both radiator hoses on the mini-van.  (The top hose had blown out about a mile from home last night.)

Later this afternoon, I spent over an hour driving the tractor around the horse pen, heaping up the manure.

And then later today, I spent less than 5 minutes on Alloy.

There were llamas going down the road.
Alloy saw them.  There was snorting involved.
I climbed on anyway.

The horse time kept the whole day from being a total waste.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

My Horse Can't Walk

One of the most feared occurrences in a horse owner’s life.  You look out the window and see your horse in “that stance”; the one that signifies the lame foot you noticed two days before is really laminitis.

Jesse, the horse known for stomping things, as in rearing up and stomping down in a mud hole to splash herself and other horses.  Sometimes there are sharp objects and you end up with an abscess.  Gone for three days to a farm show.  Upon return, find lame horse on right front.  Check for punctures, stone bruises, abscess.  Nothing.  Next day looks like maybe a strained shoulder muscle.  Ok, a couple day’s rest.  Then you look out and see the awkward stance.  Yikes.

Call the vet, the wonderful man who always comes immediately when we call.  She gets put on heavy doses of Bute and penned separately until we can figure things out.  He says call the farrier.  Your horse has foundered.

Jesse has always been a bit on the chunky side; even as a very young horse.  She has also been very active.  She was the horse who could go day after day without tiring, do heavy work and not care.  Always wanted to be going.  The last few years (5-6) we have fought the weight battle, going to a slow-feed hay system and purchasing special low-carb hay.  This winter was the ‘killer’ so to speak.  Instead of turning them loose for six months on many acres to roam, we kept them home so we could introduce a new horse.  It was a particularly snowy, nasty winter, so not much in the way of good exercise. Starting in Feb., I put Jesse on a diet; 20 lbs. of hay in a slow feed hay bag and nothing else.  She had weighed in at 1130 lbs. at 14.1 hands, but she has some draft in her which is very evident in her build.

Wonderful vet called back in a couple days to say he had been thinking about the circumstances and Jesse’s build, etc. and said he wanted to try some thyroid meds with her.  He thought she had EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) or the same as type 2 diabetes in humans.  Too much insulin her body just couldn’t use.  Worked.  She started dropping weight.  In the meantime, our also very wonderful farrier put wooden clogs on her feet.  As soon as the clogs went on, she was able to move again.   
Just finished being put on.  Yes, those are deck screws holding them on.  Her hoof walls were so hard, the farrier broke a drill bit making the pilot holes.  Her foot looks small here, but it's a size 4.
Both vet and farrier said she needed to be walked 15 minutes twice a day, and kept in a smaller pen.
She’s been in clogs 5 weeks now.  We have walked in snow, sleet, rain, and finally, sun – missing only twice in that time.  Once due to ice packing up too quickly on the clogs, and once because Jesse just didn’t feel like it.  (The farrier had said let her make the decision on how far.)  At first, we did well going around one city block.  Improvements came fairly rapidly.  Soon she was walking faster, so the faster you walk the farther you get in your 15 minutes.
This is at the 5 week mark.  See how she has self rounded the toe with the rocker motion?
I started by taking another horse along with us for company in the mornings and so another one could get a bit of exercise.  At night, it was just Jesse and me.  What a struggle at first – she has never liked leaving the herd and even just one block was pushing it – but we prevailed and she now looks forward to the walks as much as I do. 

Bill was gone for two and a half weeks of this time.  Soon neighbors showed up to help until the mornings entailed all four horses going for the walk, with different neighbors leading them.  Super way to welcome the spring weather in the mountains.

Jesse is now at an almost svelte 990 lbs. since her diet started exactly three months ago.  Getting quite toned up and marching along faster than I can keep up.  We vary the route every day, zig-zagging around blocks but getting in at least a half mile.  We have developed a great habit.  One more week of clogs, but they are an amazing improvement in laminitis treatment.  Check out this website for information:

Next?  Start ponying her for longer times.  She seems to have stabilized at that weight.  She still gets an anti-inflammatory med for her arthritis but she is looking good and her great attitude is back.  She still has a way to go to get the feet healed, but we are headed in the right direction.  She turned 16 this year and I am anxious to keep her around for many more.

Bionic Cowgirl

Monday, May 8, 2017

Outa Town

Three of the last four weekends of April I was out of town.

April 7th my niece got married down in New Mexico, so I drove down to attend the wedding.  In true Martin style, it was a court house affair followed by a picnic a couple hours away in the mountains.  I had fun.  Juanita and our youngest daughter and her kids stayed and worked taking care of a group that had rented the whole lodge.

In March I had gotten a call that one of my closest friends had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and was not going to be able to take his guests on a tour of the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.  He had 2 different 6 day tours scheduled and needed me to fill in for him, so from April 19th to May 5th I was in Arizona/Utah working with the local Navajo guides taking about a dozen people through some of the most striking real estate in North America.  I had fun.  Juanita and our youngest daughter and her kids stayed and worked taking care of several more groups that had rented the whole lodge.

I'm pretty sure I should be feeling really guilty about now.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Heads or Tails

B-  Hi horses!  Washoe, Jesse, Ranger and Alloy-  how are you guys doing today now that I have scraped the first layer of manure off and into a big pile?  I got down to a layer of ice and the tractor lost traction.  Must have reached the "perma-frost".  Or an old forgotten glacier.

B-  So, "Big Al",  I REALLY need to start working with you.  How about I climb up on the feeder and lean over you bareback...


B-  Gee whiz, Ranger.  I was just messing with the new guy.

R-  No Beel.  You are my people and you should only mess with me the horse.

B-  Okay then, it's a beautiful day and it's almost 70 degrees out.  How about we take Alloy out for a drag?

R-  Okay Beel.  I will show Al-fred how to be a good horse.

B-  Alloy.

R-  Whatever.

B-  Juanita can take Washoe, and we'll pony Al.  Jesse will have to stay here.  She "foundered" this week, and is under doctor's care until her feet start feeling better.

R-  That Mare will not be happy.  She will yell for us.

B-  She'll get over it.  We'll only be gone for a half hour or so.  


B-  Man-oh-man!  It is so pretty up here.  We haven't been able to ride this trail for 5 months or so.  Look at this- someone is getting ready to build a house up here next to the National Forest.  Juanita, let's leave the trail and see if we can spot where they are going to build.  I don't think we have ever ridden right along here...

B-  WHOA!  I said WHOA!  Just STOP, Ranger!

B-  Alloy, what in the world is wrong with you.  You are supposed to just follow along when we are ponying you, and you just stopped cold and almost drug me out of the saddle...

J-  Bill, Alloy is standing in a coil of barbed wire!

B-  Oh man.  Okay I'll climb off here and see if I can get him out of it...

A-  IAmSorryBill. IHadToStopBecuaseISteppedInThisBunchOfSharpWireAndItWillHurtMeIfIMove. NowIfIJustStepHereLikeThisAndThenStepHereLikeThis. OkayWeCanGoNow.

B-  Okay Alloy.  I am impressed.  You have a very good mind.  That could have been a DISASTER, but you just worked your way through it and didn't even get a scratch.  You are one smart horse.

R-  I do not think a smart horse would step in a big pile of biting wire Beel.  Al-loof is a goofball.

B-  Alloy.  Stuff happens.  He is a very smart horse.  Let's head home now.

B-  Nice ride.  Here we are...

B-  WHOA!  I said WHOA!  Just STOP, Ranger!

B- Alloy, what in the world is wrong with you.  You are supposed to just follow along when we are ponying you, and you just stopped cold and almost drug me out of the saddle AGAIN.

A- IAmSorryBill. ButWeAlmostCrossedAVeryDangerousWildRiverAndICouldHaveDrownedOrBeenEatenBySwampMonsters.

B-  Alloy, We are 10 feet outside of your corral.  That is the same stream you drink out of every day.  There are no monsters.  You crossed the stream 20 minutes ago with no problem.

A- IJumpedOverTheRagingRiverSoTheMonstersCouldNotCatchMeTheFirstTime. ICanNotCrossTheMonsterInfestedWaterBecauseIMightDrown.

B- You are going to make me get off of my horse and lead you across a ONE FOOT WIDE TRICKLE of water, aren't you.  Jerk.  You are a lot less smart than you were 10 minutes ago.

R- I think he is afraid of Al-e-gators Beel.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Harnessing 101 (long video)

Farm Days in La Junta, CO.  Friends of ours have been asking us to join them there for several years now.  If you want to see big teams – as in draft horses – work, it’s the place to be in the Spring.  I had an ulterior motive this year; I want to teach Jesse to drive and there would be a well-known harness maker and trainer there.  In fact, it’s at his farm site.  The idea of the weekend is to get his fields plowed and ready for planting – using horses instead of tractors.  He owns four well-trained gray drafts and there were going to be several other teams; everyone there to pull a plow or disc or whatever was needed.  I was promised huge information on all things to do with harnesses, driving, horses, and a great time.  I must say, the information part turned out to be overwhelming.

When we arrived on Friday, the teams were just coming in from the day’s work in the field.   We stood around in awe of the giant animals moving around us; some of every different breed; even a couple teams of mules; some matched; some mismatched; very large ones and a Halflinger team; one that appeared to be Mustangs.

Dinner was served cowboy style; outdoors on planks set up on props; a cook fire going outside as well as inside the bunkhouse.  We all pitched in somehow, whether helping to setup, cook, clean up afterwards.  The kids got put to work; nobody was left out.  And of course, afterwards, the music started with first one guitar/singer, then another adding in, and another.  You could just sit and listen to the wonderful old cowboy ballads or join in the singing.  Talk about days gone by!

My big objective was to learn all I could about fitting and harnessing horses, before I actually bought tack for Jesse.  On Saturday the plan was to spend as much time as possible ‘shadowing’ the ones with the info.  Del is a local legend in the industry and was willing to take me under his wing.  It was like drinking from a firehose, following him around.  He had brought his horses in and tied them off on a trailer.  I was pointed to curry and told to get busy.  Lots of white hair flying and are these guys BIG?!  We took a break for breakfast and then the real work started.

Del was great about explaining how and why for all parts of the harness.  I watched him harness three of the horses, then was told, “Your turn.”  What?  OK, I got this.  Want to take a guess what all those straps weigh?  When you get the collar and the rest of the harness, you can have anywhere from 75 to 100 lbs., depending on how fancy you want to get.


The fun starts when you get to sit on the collar and bounce up and down to ‘round it back out’, since when you hang it up, it is wet and tends to elongate downward as it dries.  You have to get it back to a rounder shape to put over the horse’s head.  Some of this stuff is done differently than for the show horses.  Remember, these are work horses headed out into the fields, and they and their gear come back mighty sweaty and dusty.  Now you get to lift this (maybe 20 lb.) collar onto the horse by pushing it over their face – nose, eyes, ears – and settling it down just above the withers.  Not bad when you have a great horse who helps by sticking her nose in and pushing to get the ears through.
Next, get the rest of the harness settled on your arm and lift off the hook.  Much easier said than done, and then you get to settle this mass on your hip and kind of hitch yourself over to the horse.  Feels like it weighs about what my 50lb. saddle does, and most of the time I can get it slung over my horse.  But this is a totally different configuration, lots of straps hanging down to the ground, and by the way, the horse is 16 or 17+ hands (at least 8 inches taller than my mare in the real world).

I give it a good toss – and it goes nowhere near where it should.  Del says to squat down to the ground and give a big heave.  Right!  I try again and sort of get most of the straps up and part way over; Del comes to the rescue and helps me shove it the rest of the way.   Obviously, there is a practiced technique to this.   He shows me how to set the hames in the groove on the collar and bind them into place.  He isn’t any bigger than me so I have to laugh when he literally swings all his weight on the buckle to get it tight enough.  Then the buckling up starts, walking around the horse connecting straps as you go, pulling the breeching over the rump and getting the tail settled over the strap, and making sure everything is absolutely straight, so you don’t cause any sores. 


Time for the bridle.  That head is a long way up there and these guys don’t figure it necessary to teach your horse to lower its head and be accommodating.  However, this mare was great about lowering her head when I asked, taking the bit like a lady and being patient because I had never handled blinders before, which are permanently attached to the bridle.

Now for the reins, all 25 ft. of them.  Sling them over the back and out onto the ground behind, then thread them through the proper spots and attach to the bit on the left side of the horse to be on the left.  Repeat on the right side of the horse to be on the right.  Now, to hook them together in the middle and learn how the reins work, so you as a driver only have two reins in your hands to signal two horses to do the same thing.

Then I got to watch Del move the team to the plow and get it hitched up, again getting instructions on the proper order of attaching the harness to the tongue of the plow.  By this time, I was beginning to feel like I had info overload, so I just watched the plowing for the rest of the morning!

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