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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Quick Rundown

In the Middle of last November, we took our horses down to their winter pasture to run free for a few months.  It's usually a little warmer for them down there, they have other horses to run with, and WE DON'T HAVE TO FEED THEM! (That is a good thing when there is 3 feet of snow on the ground.)

Usually, during the winter, we try to stop and see them at least once a week, pet them, give them treats, and generally keep them used to seeing us and maybe even look forward to it.  This year, with the Covid-19 pandemic, we didn't get to see them NEARLY as often.  And it showed.

Juanita and I went down to get our horses and bring them home yesterday.  We knew it would take some extra time this year, so we took some stuff for a picnic and set it up under the herds favorite tree in the pasture.  Next to the neighbor bulls.  RIGHT next to the neighbor bulls.  "How they hanging, boys?" is not what I would have expected from Juanita...

We set up our portable PVC catch pen next to the trailer, and then had lunch.  Almost all of the herd (7 or so horses) showed up to see what we were doing. The bulls left. One of them muttering something like "There goes the neighborhood."  We snacked of sardines and crackers while the horses had carrots and crackers.

Wow!  This is going to be EASY!  Unless, of course, you touch a halter.  Then it's all over.


Most of them took off (including our two, of course) and started running around the 60 acre pasture, crossing the seasonal river, and circling the area between the 2 ditches.  They would slow down enough that we could just catch up with them, and then they would continue the figure 8 journey.  They could cross the first river, but we chose to use the bridge, which added considerably to our walking.

A couple hours into our walk, I changed from a halter to a lariat.  Now I haven't thrown a loop in over 10 years, since I tore a rotator cuff (and I was never very good even before then).  When I tossed the rope over Alloys head, I caught the whole nose, but only one ear.  When he tossed his head to shed the loop while he was running off, a quick loop formed in the tail end of the rope and took part of my left hand with it.  Or tried to, anyway.  Just the little finger.  Not too important compared to the others...

I was glad I was wearing gloves.

I put the rope away, and picked up the halter again.  Just because.

After another couple hours, Juanita said "I think there is some sweet feed in the back of the trailer."  And there was, so we salted the ground in the catch pen with it.  After just a few minutes, Alloy came in to see what the excitement was all about, and (after one of the other horses smashed the fence PVC, you know) Alloy was caught and had a halter on his head.  Suddenly he was a perfect gentleman.  And he walked right into the trailer.


Now to call Washoe over for the trip home.  He's such a good horse.  All Juanita has to do is call him and  he runs right up to get his halter on,

Until yesterday.

Earlier in the winter, we had the vet come out and remove a growth from his ear.  I don't think he ever forgave Juanita for that.

Another hour running the figure 8, and we finally caught Washoe, too.  Unfortunately, we were on the WRONG side of the river.  Being ever the gentleman, I told Juanita to take the very narrow foot bridge back, and settle my horse who was hollering in the trailer.  I would lead Washoe across the river.

Now I don't think I have told you about this seasonal stream.  The stream over the years has cut a 8 or 10 foot deep cliff walled rut in the pasture.  Just a couple very steep slides into  or out of it.  And the field is on a clay base.  So it is a couple slick slides into or out of it.  I led the horse up to the cut, carefully worked my way down to the stream and looked up at the horse.

He said "Oh hell no."  And spun and ran away. With all of the time we had spent catching the little hay-wrecker, I was NOT going to let go.  He pulled me up that cliff and drug me a little over 20 feet on my belly, face first, until I rethought my strategy.

I let go.

Juanita hadn't gone too far, as she had thought I might need some help, so we caught the horse again in a hurry.  Then we both headed for the river crossing.  She thought she could convince him to walk down with her.

Now, Juanita was in standard slick soled cowboy boots and when she hit the path down... well... have you ever seen the mud-slide scene in "Romancing the Stone"?  Yeah, pretty much.  I was wearing hiking boots, so I got down with her (still holding the horses lead) and gave her a rear end boost to get her back up so she could convince the horse to walk down with me.  Just a couple taps on his rear end and he stepped down, nice as can be, and we crossed the river. 

The stream  was only about 20 feet across, but it is a seasonal stream.  We had snow in the mountains last weekend.  Seasonal streams in Colorado are full of snow melt in the spring.  Snow melt is cold.  Very cold.  And the stream is about 3 inches above crotch high.  Guys will understand.  "How they hanging...?"  Nope.

By the time we got up the other side, I was less happy than I had been all day.  Washoe loaded nicely, and I sat on a blanket on the truck seat to keep the leather dry, and my tush warm(ish).

A half hour later we were home, and the horses were unloaded.  When I went back to the truck another half hour after unloading, there were 2 puddles where my feet had been during the drive.

I really am glad the horses are home.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


April 11th

April 12th

April 16th

April showers bring frostbite.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Day in the Life of a (Quarantined) Horse Owner

With the covid-19 quarantine in full swing, we are spending a lot of time spring cleaning here at the lodge.

Yesterday, Juanita and I went down the mountain to visit our horses on their winter pasture to get out for a bit.

About halfway down to Lyons, one of the windows in the back seat rolled down.  Reba the Lodge Dog was THRILLED. She looked surprised when it started down because we NEVER let her stick any body parts out the window of a moving car, but she took advantage of it and jammed her head out the window to feel the wind blowing in her face.  We moved her off the button so the window would stop trying to roll down, and I disabled the back windows.  That's a trick we don't want her learning...

When we got to the winter pasture, the 3 horses still on it were standing WELL apart.  Like a hundred yards between them. Practicing "social distancing" horse style, I guess.  Our two came up for treats and stood right next to us anyway. I mean, treats, don't you know.

Washoe had some fresh blood on the side of his face that had been dripping out of something at the base of his ear.  We didn't have a halter with us, so Juanita couldn't get a good look at it.  Burrs tangled in the hair?  A ruptured sarcoid growth?  It was just a little wet from fresh blood, so we will head back down to check it in another day or so.  With a halter.  And a water bottle to rinse it with.  And of course, more treats.

Then we went on into Fort Collins to drop off some paperwork to our renters, and then visit our socially isolated grandson.  We had to drop by after he posted on facebook    Day whatever in quarantine... I've named the dust particles.. Steve's a real asshole

He cracks me up...

Then we hit the store for some necessary supplies.  Bag of frozen corn, a tube of toothpaste, fifty pound burlap bag of rice.  The usual.  (Really.  Fifty pounds.)

Then we went back up the mountain and back into isolation.  All in all, a great day.

Think I'll have a bowl of rice for lunch.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Snowshoe Time is Here!

One of the BEST ways to enjoy the out-of-doors in the winter is just that - get outdoors!  We took our own advice and in the company of a couple friends, hit one of the trails in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mt. National Park, just two miles from us.
As you can see, the day was sunny and very bright, with lots of snow!  A bit windy, but hey, you have to have some sort of challenge.  Quite a few people were enjoying the great day, so we ended up parking a good ways out from any of the known trailheads, so we just hoofed it  snowplowed our way across the unbroken snow to the horse trail that runs next to the Middle St. Vrain River.  A few people had used it, making it perfect:  you knew where the trail was but it wasn't packed down snow.  This trail has a good bit of up-and-down to it without a great elevation rise; perfect for four people who have not been doing much strenuous exercise since the advent of winter. 

We arrived at the trailhead for Finch Lake (maybe 3/4 of a mile) and had worked up an appetite, so when we spotted a dry spot under some trees by the road, we made camp of sorts, removing snowshoes and plunking our backsides down on the ground or handy rocks, to devour our bag lunches.

We finished up by hiking back to the car, using the road.  At one point we crossed over the river on the bridge and had to have a Kodak moment waving at the fish in the open spot of ice.  OK, we pretended we saw fish there.  In all honesty, we all had such a great time, we forgot to take many pictures.  In fact, Bill and I were so excited, we forgot to even take a camera or phone, so fortunately our friend had his phone.
Bionic Cowgirl

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...


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:

(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
HoJo---Howard Johnsons
RoRo---Scooby's in trouble
DoDo---See LoCo
GoGo---70's dance
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?)


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.


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!?!"