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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.



Thursday, August 8, 2019

Poultry in Motion

We have chickens.

When our granddaughter ran away to join the Army, the Pentagon, very unfairly I think, would not allow her to take her chickens with her to boot camp. So she gave them to us.  They live outside the kitchen window and have learned to "work me" for treats.  They come up to the window, look at me, and ask for food.  I'm a soft touch.


  This summer I've been working with Alloy the horse.  For the last year, about every 5th time or so that I climbed on him, he would buck me off.

Not what I've been looking for in a trail horse.

  Most of the time (maybe 95%) he would start bucking within the first minute or two of climbing on.  If he made it past that, he was fine for the rest of the ride.  So I have been cautious about approaching bad things early in the ride.

  I have also found that if I let Al keep walking while everyone else is mounting up, he stays calmer.

  So, this morning Juanita, our daughter, and I saddled up to go for a ride.  I was first up so Al and I walked around the parking lot and beside the lodge while the gals were mounting.

  We walked by the kitchen.

  The chickens, and the magpies stealing the chicken's food were not expecting to see a half ton of monstrous mammal walking right next to them, so they scattered, rather abruptly.

  The horse, for his part, was not expecting to see a fowl explosion next to his feet just moments after I had climbed on him.

  Alloy. Didn't. Buck.

  He gave me what I'm calling a "straddle spook". All four of his legs shot out at a 45 degree angle and he froze.

  The birds settled down almost immediately, and Al said "Oh."  And we continued our walk.

  Alloy. Didn't. Buck.


I called that a win...

Bill

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Have the Bionic Cowgirl and Beel Lost Their Minds? Part III

We came back from our second task elated, but tired. However, we had one more task to complete before we could call it a day.


Usually, mechanical bulls can be found at rodeos, but we were in between rodeos. Around here it goes: Greeley Stampede, Rooftop Rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days, Weld County Fair, then Larimer County Fair. This year, there was a break between the Weld County Fair and the Larimer County Fair that spanned the time frame of GISH. The closest actual mechanical bull during GISH was at Cheyenne Frontier Days, but that ended the day before and I couldn't have driven up there anyway, because I was working the Weld County Fair. I was determined to complete this task, though.

Mom has a mechanical horse thing that she used during the winters before her hip surgeries to keep her core strong and her hips working. I was pretty certain that Mom and Bill had a steer head somewhere, from when Autobot and her ex-boyfriend were playing at roping last summer. Mechanical horse thing + roping steer head = mechanical bull.

Bill put the "bull" together while Mom and I were putzing around after the ride. We were all so tired - who knew that walking a unicorn into the living room, then throwing a surprise fairy party was so exhausting - but I only had to ride the bull for two seconds. I could do that, so I did.

Here's the link to the video: https://youtu.be/3FSbKSVxYus

(Cross posted on Just another perfect day)

Monday, August 5, 2019

Have the Bionic Cowgirl and Bill Lost Their Minds? Part II


Our second challenge gave us an excuse to trailer the horses into Wild Basin, where we'd be guaranteed to run into hikers. It's a rare occasion that we see hikers across the street where we normally ride. As a general rule, we're okay with that, but since we needed to have people to throw a party for, we had to go where the people were.

The ride itself was amazing and we couldn't have asked for better behaved horses. They did a great job as Mustang Ambassadors that day.

Mom had baked cookies for us to give out as party treats and I bagged them up into individual treat bags. I thought that maybe people would be worried about taking home-baked cookies from strangers, so I quickly made up labels that said "Courtesy of Allenspark Lodge B&B", so they'd know the cookies came out of a commercial kitchen. (That came back to bite me in the butt later.)

Thank God Bill was the one driving, because I don't think my nerves would have made it. People coming out of the park were kind of a-holes. We were supposed to be spreading love and kindness, but I really just wanted to spread knuckle sandwiches with the way some of those people were driving.

Finally, a car saw us coming up the one lane road and pulled off to let us pass. I made Bill give them a cookie, which he tossed to them through the window as we yelled "thanks!". We did that for the next few cars. Sometimes you gotta train humans the way you train horses: make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing pleasant. People who insisted on not giving way on the road out had to thread past the truck and trailer; people who pulled over and let us by got cookies. As Ranger Mustang used to say, "Peeples can be VERY HARD to train".

Finally, we were able to get parked, tacked up, and on our way. Along the way, from the trailer parking to the trail head, we ran into some hikers who were thrilled to see horses on the trail. They stepped off to let us pass and guess what? They got cookies. Make the right thing pleasant, right?

We didn't want to risk losing the "unicorn's" horns, so we didn't put them on the "unicorns" until we reached the hitch rail.

Unicorns and fairies ready
All that was left was to set out the party sign and find us some people to surprise.


The hitch rail is off the beaten path a little bit, as you can see, so we had to go trolling for people. The first group wasn't super excited. The kids were, but their mom, not so much. The girls came and rubbed the horses' noses then off they went.

Mom walked down toward the falls, which are on the same path as the hitch rail, just a little beyond it and found a family that wanted to come meet our pet unicorns. In fact, one of the little girls was wearing her unicorn shirt, so it was perfect.


The girls were shy, but excited to pet the unicorns and spent several minutes with them. Their parents had to practically drag them away.

The most surprising reaction came from adults. Remember when I said my decision to label the cookies would come back to bite me in the butt? Yeah, Mom met them where the trail met the turn off to the hitch rail and handed them cookies. They looked at the label and asked if this was some "publicity stunt" for the lodge. Ugh. It was like an arrow through the heart. Once we explained that we thought people would be more comfortable knowing that the cookies came out of a commercial kitchen and that we were doing this for a scavenger hunt, their tunes changed.

I was hoping to see pure surprise and joy on the kids' faces, which we didn't get. However, the look of joy on the previously dubious adults' faces? Priceless!




The reaction from the adults were my favorite and I felt like we'd nailed the task. Shortly after, we packed it in and rode back out. We'd entered Wild Basin with 20 cookies, and had three left. Easy, peasy, we just stopped at the ranger station on the way out and spread the love there too.

*Verbal consent obtained for posting pictures.

(Cross posted on Wilsons' Wild Ones.)

Have the Bionic Cowgirl and Beel Lost Their Minds? Part I

(Note: GISH is the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt, and I (GunDiva) decided that Jay and I were going to do it. However, when we joined, I didn't realize I'd have to recruit Mom and Bill to help. Lucky for me, I have the world's best parents, who are usually up for trying something crazy.)

Jay and I were placed on a random team with people we didn't know, from all over the world, and I was a bit hesitant. I shouldn't have been, everyone on the team was amazing and supportive and we each brought our own special talents to the team. Jay is far more artistic than I, so the tasks he chose played to his strengths. I signed up for the tasks that I could incorporate the animals in, and recruited Mom and Bill to help me out with three of the tasks.

Last Monday (7/29/19), I spent the day at the lodge with them working on my tasks. I'm not sure I've laughed that hard in a long time. Everyone worries about making memories with their children when they're young, but I think we should also spend time as adults making memories with our parents. Turns out, it's a lot more fun, especially when you have parents like mine.

Here's the first task we tackled on Monday:


You can't tell me that this challenge wasn't custom made for us! Puh-leeze! Unicorns in the living room? I couldn't sign up for that one fast enough. I called Mom when the list was released and asked if we could do this. I really only asked out of courtesy, because I knew she's be all in.

The first thing we needed to do was transform Mom into the Fairy Mother and Washoe into the Wonder Unicorn. Mom was easy, I found some fairy wings at a costume shop and put her in them. We also dressed up our hats, as they were going to be used for two challenges.



Washoe's horn took just a bit more work, but not much. A paper towel roll, sliced and diced, then covered with aluminum foil made the perfect horn. A couple of heavy duty bread ties to attach it to his halter, et voila! A unicorn.



Despite his little slip on the hardwood floor, he did great. I initially imagined him in front of the fireplace with the Fairy Mother (aka Bionic Cowgirl), but didn't want to risk more slipping on the floor while getting to the area rug in front of the fireplace.

A friend of Mom's was kind enough to video the whole thing, as I was focused on getting pictures. It always delights people when the horses visit the inside of the people barn, and Mom's friend was no exception.

Our first task went off without a hitch! One down, two to go.

(Cross-posted on Wilsons' Wild Ones)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Colorado's Culture

I moved to Colorado over 40 years ago, and noticed the state has a, well, "different" culture.

People in Colorado don't think it strange that some folks will go outside in weather that can be life threatening, just to play or exercise.

Some people will climb on their bicycles wearing an outfit that would embarrass any self-respecting stripper and go up steep mountain roads, and not do it to get to work or anything.  Just do it for "fun".  (It's kind of odd, because I never see them smiling...)




Some people will hike for hours, and then climb up cliffs just to get up on top.  It's not like there's a McDonald's up there or any thing. They just do it.

On a fairly regular basis I ride my horse.  Climbing on the back of a thousand pound fear driven prey animal is arguably not a reasonable behavior.

The festivals can be odd, too.  Like "Frozen Dead Guy Days" in Nederland.  "Fruitcake Toss" in Manitou Springs.   Or "Mike the Headless Chicken Festival" in Fruita.

Don't ask.

I can't help explain most of that stuff, but some of the slang shortcuts can be kind of confusing until you know what they are really saying.

I've been working on a listing for the people that come into Colorado to help them with the  "o-o" abbreviations we use around here.

NoCo---Northern Colorado
SoCo---Southern Colorado
LoDo---Lower Downtown
FoCo---Fort Collins
LoCo---Boulder
HoJo---Howard Johnsons
PoPo---Police
SoSo---Meh
CoCo---Chocolate
RoRo---Scooby's in trouble
DoDo---See LoCo
GoGo---70's dance
NoNo---Mistake
ToTo---Dorothy's dog
YoYo---Again, see LoCo

(I have to apologize to my friends in Boulder.  Love y'all, but it's so easy. YoNo?)

Bill


Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Catch

We brought our 2 remaining horses home from their winter pasture a couple days ago.  It's odd only having 2 horses now.  First time in a while we've been able to feed just 1 forty pound bale in the morning.

But getting them up here took a little planing.

Alloy the Mustang decided about the time Ranger was put down that he had become a wild horse again.  No touching required, or allowed.  At least if the "toucher" was carrying a rope or halter.

I ended up doing some basic "target" training with him out in the field over the winter.  Touch the halter, get a treat.  Finding a treat that was worth touching the halter took a couple of trips.  Apple slices?  Not worth the danger approaching the halter put him in.  Carrot slices?  Close, but no.  Dried pancakes?  Waffles?  Bread crusts?  Nope-nope-nope.  Crackers?  OH hell YEAH!  Saltines!  Butter Crisp!  And best of all, Ritz!

Bump the halter, get a cracker.   What a great way to get your salt.  None of this licking the block stuff, you just get to eat it!

After a couple of weekly trips down the mountain, he would not run away when I walked up with a halter in my hand.  Of course, there was NO WAY IN HELL he was going to let me drape the rope over his neck, much less stick his nose in that bear trap device.  You aren't a wild horse any more when you wear one of those things.  It would be embarrassing when you are "back to the wild" like Big Al figured he had gotten.  So he would touch it, but it was "head for the hills!" when I looked like I was going to touch HIM with it.

Now, every day that Al and I were doing the vending machine dance, Juanita and Washoe were walking around, Washoe in lead rope and halter, with him getting brushed, groomed, eating all sorts of treats, and just generally hanging out.  The other half dozen horses in the field would try to nose in on Washoe and Alloy to try to get in on this snack action.

It was...difficult... to keep Al's attention with all the activity going on around him.

Moving day finally came, but we had a plan.  We set up some panels to make a catch pen in one corner of the field.  We would drive Alloy into the pen, and then we could halter him.

Yeah.  Right.

Moving that horse without a lead is like herding cats.  Only the cat can run 30 MPH and weighs a half ton.

So I caught his girlfriend, Terri, and led her to the catch pen.  He tried his best to block our progress by standing sideways in front of us to block our path.  As we bulled past him, he would move in front of us to block us again.  FOR A QUARTER MILE.

Jerk.

When we got Terri and Al into the catch pen, we suddenly realized why Al (and Washoe for that matter)  did not want to leave.  Of the 6 other horses in the field with them, it looked like 4 were mares in season.  And although our 2 horses have been gelded, they seem to recall there was something.......

We got the horses except for Al and Washoe out of the pen,  and I dropped the loop of a rope around Al's neck.  He went nuts for about 5 seconds, pulling and rearing, and then he got over it.  Just like that his eyes went soft and Juanita put the halter on him.  Then we loaded both horses into the trailer and came home.  No problem.

Washoe and Al unloaded just fine and we let them go in our pen.  They seemed mostly glad to be home,  but both continued wailing for a couple hours... 

"Ladies!  Where are you!?!"



 Bill






Thursday, March 7, 2019

Only in Colorado

We went to the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo over the weekend.

I saw this.
And this.


I really don't understand why.

There was plenty of room for them to wash up in the sink...
Bill

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Washoe's First Obstacle Clinic


The best part of day, though, was picking up Washoe from pasture.  Now he has been out there for three months, but he saw the trailer coming from half a mile away and came running all the way across that 60 acres to the gate, waiting for us!  What a great boy.
 
Washoe (white) & Skeeter (black) all shined up and ready to go.
I did have a good time; found lots of holes in Washoe's training, but knew I would.  He is 17 and I have never taken him to anything like this before.  The only other arena work he has done is being one of the 'schooling horses' for guest riders.  No obstacles, etc., thrown in with other horses being crazy.  
Ignoring the blow-ups.
Considering his little pea-brain and lack of socialization, I have no complaints with his behavior.  He did not buck or try to run away or any such thing.  He did try to hide behind Skeeter often, when things started getting too much for him.  After about one and a half hours, I climbed off and called it quits because it was plain it had gotten too much for him; he was pinning his ears flat at any horse that came anywhere near him and I didn't want him threatening to kick at them (the next step) - which is a terrible habit to overcome.  The things he was a star about, were standing rock solid with racing motorcycles, crazy animal sounds blasting loudly from speakers, live goats in the arena, fireworks and gunshots - but then I knew those things would not bother him.  What did bother him were lots of strange horses doing lots of strange things all around him, all at one time.  He couldn't seem to focus on any one thing.
 
Jousting with pool noodles.
I never took him to clinics and when I did go, it was with Jesse.  He has been with lots of strange horses, but only on trail rides.  He is a wonderful trail horse, so ... I will work on some of this other stuff, but mostly getting him to focus on ME when things get weird.  He totally lost that focus, so that is top priority.  It was a lot of fun and Autobot and Skeeter did an awesome job!  Most of us left the arena when the wind got bad enough to blow all the standing up things down, mostly all at once. 

I called the clinic chaotic, but it was very organized and well-run and it did what it was intended to do, which was getting horses acclimated to what mounted posse horses have to deal with.  In that, Skeeter (GunDiva’s horse) did shine.  She handled the chaos like it was an everyday thing, and Washoe was like a dog hollering, “Squirrel!”  I would love to attend more of these.

Bionic Cowgirl (who hasn’t posted in way too long.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

SoSo the Mustang


(This isn't really my story to tell, but Autobot gave me permission to write a short post about SoSo.)

Over the summer, Autobot's (now ex) boyfriend's mother gifted her a 15 year old gorgeous bay mare, Sofia Sonador. No one knew much about her history. SoSo had been given to Autobot's (now ex) boyfriend's mother nine-ish years before (maybe more - like I said, not my story so background details are fuzzy). She'd been saddled, but blew up and threw herself over, busting the saddle. After that, she was turned out to pasture.

She was given to Autobot, since it was felt that she needed a home where she could work and be loved. And, boy, was SoSo loved.




For a titled mustang (which means someone adopted her, successfully completed their one year BLM adoption period, and received her title), she'd spent most of her life with minimal human contact. And then Autobot came along. SoSo was a quick learner and took to Autobot right away.

Within three days of working with her, Autobot was in a saddle, being led around. Apparently, there was one incident in which SoSo put her into the fence and glanced her with a hoof, but otherwise it went pretty smoothly.

(Picture stolen from Autobot's IG account)

After a few days' work at SoSo's old home, it was time to move her to the lodge, where Autobot could work with her more consistently.




Sofia fit into the herd nicely and progressed quickly with her almost daily walks around the neighborhood. Autobot started Sofia the same way we start all of our horses on the mountain - with lots of walks and desensitization. First, in a halter only, then adding in the tack.

She's stunning.

I love this picture. SoSo's so in tune with Autobot, she looks like she adores her.

SoSo progressed so quickly, in fact, that she came down to participate in our HallowEquine party, hosted by the USWHBA.

Jesse and Bullseye from Toy Story
The trainer who had been working with Skeeter was there, and had given Autobot a few lessons on Skeeter and Pearl, so she offered to work with them for a bit in the round pen.




I was so impressed with Sofia. Skeeter was at the trailer being a hot mess - screaming, pulling back, generally looking like an unbroke horse - while Sofia calmly took in everything around her and did everything Autobot asked her to. What a great old lady.

After a bit in the round pen, Autobot took SoSo down to the obstacle course for a look around. And SoSo acted like she'd seen that craziness (including the llama) every day of her life, so Autobot climbed back on for a few steps.


With everything going on around her, she was cool as a cucumber. There were easily 20 horses in attendance at the party, all of them doing different things, and she was completely focused on Autobot. The trainer asked if Autobot wanted to go into the arena and work some more. (Wish I had pictures of that!) SoSo did so well in the arena - with the exception of one moment of thinking she wanted to buck that Autobot got ahead of and changed her mind - that they went on a baby trail ride from the arena to the trailer.

I can't imagine getting my first real ride in an environment like that. I mean, Alloy has a lot more saddle time and still lost his mind and bucked Bill off (Bill's okay, and climbed right back up on Alloy, who found his brain by then).

We'd decided that SoSo hadn't had enough time to bond with Mom and Bill's herd, and we were worried that turning her loose on 60 acres with horses she hadn't fully bonded with was a recipe for disaster. So the plan was for her to come and winter with our herd. I was looking forward to having Autobot and SoSo around to ride with and we were all looking forward to riding on the mountain next year.

I live in Weld County, where rabies is endemic, and we have cases of it every year, so vaccination is a must. In preparation for her trip down to our place, the vet visited just two days after the HallowEquine party and gave her all of her shots, as well as did her teeth. The next morning, when Mom went out to feed, Sofia Sonador was gone. She'd had a delayed allergic reaction to the rabies vaccine and passed away in her sleep. (We had a necropsy done, as she'd shown no signs of a reaction in the two and a half hours the vet was there.)

Our hearts were broken, and many tears were shed over the little bay mare who had come into Autobot's life for such a brief period of time. However, I take comfort (and I hope Autobot does too) in the fact that SoSo was so-so incredibly loved and happy. Sofia loved living on the mountain, having a job, and she loved her girl.

Sofia Sonador and her girl
(This post wasn't meant to be a downer, but to celebrate an amazing little mare. It wouldn't be right to ignore the fact that she was a part of the herd, no matter how briefly.)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Rest in Peace, Ranger

It is with a heavy heart I find myself telling you that Ranger Mustang is dead.

It looks like it was colic.

Ranger had been part of my life since just before the turn of the century.  He was bought on December 28, 1999.  That was the day that Clayton Moore died.  Moore played the "Lone Ranger" on the old TV show, and that's how my Ranger got his name. (I thought Clayton would be a terrible name for a horse.)

The BLM guessed his birth year at 1991, but all of the vets we had "toothed" him as 3 to 5 years older.  So we figure he was about 12 years old when we got him.  That's pretty old to be starting an untrained horse. Particularly one that was still just about completely wild.  He didn't trust people AT ALL.

It was a long haul in training.  I probably learned more from him than he learned from me.  I tell people that "I can't be taught, but I can be trained.  There just need to be consequences."  Well, if I did something he didn't understand, or just didn't like, he would consequence the hell out of me.

We did finally reach an understanding.  Ranger is the only horse I have ever had talk to me.  He didn't usually say much, but it was pretty obvious what he had in mind.

Last month Juanita and I took our horses down to winter pasture to run loose for a few months as we do nearly every year.  It's good for the horses' attitudes having time off.  We try to check on them at least once a week or so just to see how they are doing, and get our horse fix.  Yesterday we went down the mountain to check on them.  All of the horses ran up to see what treats we might have brought.  All of the horses but one.

A short search of the pasture turned up Ranger.  He was down.  He appeared to have been down for quite a while, and the grass around him was scarred in a circle around him, probably from him trying to get up.

He was unable to raise his head.

I spent about 5 hours with him, while Juanita made the hour drive up to the lodge and back to get water and a turkey baster to get it into him.  Juanita made the trip again for more water, other supplies, and a short bucket for Ranger to drink out of.

He couldn't raise his head.

His last words to me were  "Tired.  Hurts.  Cold".

It has never been that hard for me to pull a trigger.

Gallop across that bridge, my friend.  You were loved.



Bill