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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Little Town

I live in a town so small, it's a 45 minute drive to Wal-mart.  I live in a town so small, we have to run the 4th of July parade, trade places with the folks in the parade and run it again so everybody gets to see it.  I live in a town so small...

Small town living can take a while to get used to.  The last full census put Allenspark at 496 people, so the infrastructure is somewhat limited.  One horseback riding livery, one gift shop, one coffee shop, one custom furniture maker, one 5 star restaurant (!), one lodge (us), two real estate offices, two churches and three bars.  Well, the bars are part of previously listed businesses, so maybe that's counting them twice. Add the post office, community center and fire station, and you have Allenspark.

In a small town, you need to plan ahead before "goin' ta town fer supplies", and lump together ALL of your errands.  And buy extras, because the nearest "convenience" store isn't.

The weather here in Allenspark is perfect in the summer, and perfectly awful in the windter (no, spellcheck, that isn't a typo).  Starting in November, and ending in April, we can get some surprising long lasting wind storms.  Sometimes they last from November until April.  In fact, the local monthly newspaper is "The Allenspark Wind".  People will show up in town during the summer and think "Wow!  I MUST LIVE HERE!" and buy a home.  After their first winter they say "Wow!  I MUST NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!".  I suspect that has something to do why we have two real estate offices in town.

Several years ago, the winds blew down several trees onto our horse trailers (yes, there are 2 trailers under there)

As is typical with any town you get a mix of people.  Some are wonderful human beings that will help anyone at anytime for any reason.  Some would complain if you hung them with a new rope.  Most we have never met.  During the summer, the lodge is a 24/7 endeavor.  During the winter, well, remember the wind?  At 8500 feet in elevation, it can be uncomfortable standing outside chatting it up with the neighbors...

I tell our guests that the two things I love the most about my town are:  the weather and the locals.  And the two things I hate the most about my town are: the weather and the locals.

I live in a town so small, the gal at the post office smiles and says "Hi Bill! Hi Juanita!" when we pick up our mail.

I think I love living here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Working on Those Tush Muscles

Just read my daughter's blog, over on 'Tales from the Trail' and the ensuing comment was priceless; much too good for just another comment.  You see, when my daughter's horse darted and spun, I was envisioning a good laugh at seeing her sitting in the dust, as that's where I ended up when Jesse practiced one of her spins in our corral, bareback.  So my only conclusion can be either a) my horse spins faster than her horse, or b) my tush muscles need some work, because I did not grab nearly enough horse-hide!  Reality is, as much as I love my Jesse horse, Estes doesn't do a pretty show ring spin; she does the 'get the h*ll out of the way' spin.  She probably learned it in her dozen or so years of open range cattle work.  You don't learn that expertise in any show ring; you gotta have those pointy steer horns getting a tad close to learn that.  I was pretty proud of my kid for staying on board.  Back to the exercise machine......

Monday, February 22, 2010

All Talk

  The folks we bought the lodge from years ago had told us that they spent a lot of time explaining to guests that "we are not the Holiday Inn".  Boy howdy, you're not kidding.  No phones in the rooms,  no TV in the rooms, no clocks in the rooms.  No cell service within 20 minutes of us.

View this morning from a 2nd floor room

   The lodge is our house.  It is our home.  We are usually around and willing to talk... about good restaurants nearby, today's weather, trails near us, or talk about horses.  Hoo boy, do we talk about horses.
   Horses are our passion.  We eat breakfast family style with our guests every morning (actually, they eat breakfast with US) and the topics of conversation go all over the map, sometimes complete strangers find they have a common friend, or live near each other, or just have a lot in common.  But occasionally someone will ask about our horses.  Then, conversation stops and the stories begin.  "How Ranger learned to eat treats" ... "How Jesse keeps the boys in line"... "How we got Washoe" ..."Where the horses are now".  That was a sampling of our breakfast talk last Sunday.  I try to stop occasionally and look at the faces around me to  see if anybody has started glazing over, and if they are, we will change the topic.  But unless you are actually snoring, we may not notice.
   I think our focus on horses is hard on our children, ages now 30 and up.  The annual Christmas letter is about; Ranger, Jesse, Washoe, what they are doing, how they are feeling, what they have done, what we are working on next with them, where we took them on vacation and oh yeah, "the kids are fine".  We have noticed the same thing with other "horse-people" friend's Christmas letters.
Even this web-log is full of horse pictures.  About the only picture with no horses in it (or that wasn't taken from horseback) sends you to our web-page for the lodge.  Ugh. Work. Boring.
   We have had some pretty good snows here the last week or so, so we haven't been able to get out to see the horses, and we miss them fiercely.  Hopefully we will be able to get down to see them later this week.

Oh, yeah.  And the kids are fine.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mud, Play and Happy Birthday

After the mud bath, the horses feel particularly feisty.  Ranger and Cannon, in particular, were antagonizing each other.  We suspect that Cannon, being the youngest, and Ranger, being the oldest, of the geldings, were doing a bit of vying for top dog.  Our cameras weren't quick enough to get really great shots, but anyone who knows horse posturing can see the signs:  ears pinned, butt muscles bunched from backing into each other.

Got this picture of Cannon kicking out, but Ranger didn't make the picture.  Ranger is still main male boss; when he backs up to an opponent, he tosses a kick, then whirls and goes after them with the snaky head dance.  The others know to make a quick exit and get out of the way then.
You can't see Ranger's ears here, but they are flattened backwards.  He's figuring just how to keep this kid separated from the herd.  In the next photo, he's moving Peanut out of our space.  The funny part is, in between chasing away the other guys, he would come up to one of us with the ears up, and happy, like it was just all in a spring day's work.

Jesse got in on the act once, rearing and biting at Washoe.  That was the only rearing done - by the mare in the herd.  She just can't get past the tomboy stage, but I love to see that agility and balance.

I also need to wish our youngest a happy birthday.  He's the big 3 0 today.  I don't know which makes me feel older, the 30 year old kid or the 18 year old grandkid.  But life is good when you can still play on the mountain with the horses!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring is in the (h)air!

A couple of days ago we checked on the horses again.  They were on the farthest pasture away, up where the skies were blue.  As usual, they were having a good time and came a runnin'.

As they got closer, it quickly became obvious what they had  been up to.....MUD.

In the winter, the ground is too frozen to stick to you, so this must be SPRING!!!!

I had wondered why Washoe wasn't in the lead, as usual.  Look out, here he comes...and talk about disgruntled!  He's usually my clean, clean, clean horse and he appeared rather chagrined that I had caught him, well, not quite at his best.
So, let's take a photo op here to introduce you to the herd - not at their finest.  If you click on the pictures to enlarge them, you can really laugh.
This is Cannon, enjoying the fresh sprouts coming up through the grass.

Peanut, who also is usually very clean, and also was not in the front running to greet us as usual.

Little Dutch, who looks light  a boxer just leaving the ring with a knot above his left eye.  Bill likes this next shot better; says he looks smug, with his tongue out.  He must have won the round.

This is a great shot of Brownie, however there is no way you are going to see any mud on him.  He seems to have perfected the art of skimming, so it doesn't stick to you - or he's just the color of the mud.
Can't forget the RangeMan.  Mister Ranger is a pro in the mud beds.  Does he not look like a true range Mustang?  Even his freeze brand is showing, but check out the mane.  This was a good rub!
Hang in there, only a couple more.  I don't have a pic of Doc, who stayed to the outside, sort of out of picture range; probably because he was sparkling clean.  Speaking of clean, here is the Wart Hog Diva, the real pro of mud bathing.  She who will look up a muddy spot to rear and pounce in to make sure the whole undercarriage gets covered.  Where's her mud?  I still can't believe she's this clean.
Now, compare my two horses....Jesse, the Wart Hog on the right; Washoe, the male prima dona on the left.
This last shot is just because it's my favorite.  Bill and Ranger are truly buds.


Monday, February 15, 2010


OK, over on "Tales from the Trail", our daughter is blogging about the joys of riding bareback. Bareback, riding sans saddle, is absolutely marvelous....once you get a little practice in. I have to say, my joys of bareback took awhile in coming. You see, one of the worst injuries I have received from horses was from falling off my horse, bareback. Yes, I said Falling. Off. I was trying out a new bit on Jesse when she was pretty young. We were just walking around the Lodge, poking, actually. When we came to the pretty, green back yard we stopped to admire the scenery. I don't know what caused her to step sideways quickly - I can't call it a spook because ALL she did was take one step sideways - but I started sliding off one side. Thinking I was still twenty-something, I tried to slide my other leg off over her rump with the idea of just sliding down her side to land on my feet. Very Hollywood. Well, not being of that age group anymore, I caught my leg on top of her rump, causing me to topple to the ground in a heap, up-side-down, with my horse nuzzling me.

When I climbed to my feet and reached for her rein, I let out a gasp...and horse was gone. I walked through the Lodge to tell Bill I had unceremoneously fallen off and had to go find Jesse. Walking out the front door I spotted her across the street, standing at the rail where we had left her lead rope, so I walked over, took off her halter and turned her loose in the corral. It was when I was walking back across the road that the nausea hit me. I managed to get back inside and sit down. Bill took one look at my face, felt my shoulder and ordered me to the car. I hadn't even realized I had dislocated my shoulder, so off to the Estes Park ER. They had a great doc there that reduced it, quite painlessly even, and then the rehab started.

Unfortunately, I didn't get back on bareback for a couple of years, and had by that time developed quite a fear. I had totally convinced myself that if I couldn't get off when she was just standing still, what would I do if we were on the trail and I really needed off for an emergency, or if she spooked?

It took my daughter a long time to convince me we should do this together, and I am very thankful now, because I would have missed all the great joy we now have, when we can just catch the horses and go, not having to bother with all the gear!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pets (assorted)

We call our blog "It's a horse life", and we mostly talk about our horses, but we do have several other animals living with us.

I think I have spent a total of about 2 weeks of my life with no animals living in the house with me. Cats, dogs, snakes, frogs, turtles, rabbits, lizards, salamanders, a squirrel... our kids weren't a problem for my wife, I was. Hey, it just followed me home (of course, I was dragging it by the neck....).

We currently have one bird, Phoenix, a domestic white dove captured in Rocky Mountain National Park by a butterfly researcher that was probably released for a wedding and didn't find it's way home (the dove, not the bug guy). We have two cats that live in our bedroom, Voodoo, the old man, and Kitten Kaboodle, the younger female. They live in our room because it is a cat's job to sleep on every pillow it can find, and we have WAY too may pillows here at the lodge. We have a box tortoise named Scooter that is currently in school in the first grade class our younger daughter teaches. We have 3 horses and we have our Lodge Dog, Sophie.
We got Sophie 8 years ago from the Humane Society down in Longmont, Colorado. We had lost our older lodge dog, Sam just before Christmas in 2001, and, though we weren't ready to replace Sam, we sure weren't ready to be without a dog. We had made several trips to the "dog pound" and come home empty handed each time. Finally we went down on Valentines Day, and met Sophie, sitting quietly in the back of her cage, surrounded by the normal bedlam of a dog jail. I checked the clipboard on her cage "Oh, your name is Sophie" and she walked right up and said hi. She followed us home. Today is our 8th anniversary with the Sophie the Lodge Dog.

It's hard for me to imagine life without animals in my home. You have to put up with a some extra mess and smell, but if you give them a little affection, and keep them fed, they will love you.
Gosh, is that what it's like having a husband?

Happy Valentines Day Juanita! I love you.


Friday, February 12, 2010

February 2010 Recipe: Country Pineapple Casserole

Country Pineapple Casserole

½ c. butter or margarine, softened
2 c. sugar
8 eggs
2-20 oz cans crushed pineapple, drained
3 T. Lemon juice
10 slices day-old white bread, cubed

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in pineapple and lemon juice. Fold in the bread cubes. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 325 deg. F for 35-40 minutes or until set.

Yield: 12-16 servings

Saturday, February 6, 2010

They're back!!!

"They're back!  They're back!  The food people are back!"  I'm pretty sure that's what Washoe was saying yesterday when the horses spotted us.  We had decided to hike in from a different direction, just for variety, so we ended up coming up on the horses from the top...or so it seemed.  As is turned out, I believe the horses were looking for us and (actually, they had probably gone down for water) when they turned to start back up the mountain, they saw us.  We were a good 1/2 mile away and about three hilltops above them, so I have no idea how they saw us so quickly, but when Washoe saw us, he got all excited and started charging up the mountain side.  Peanut came running along with him and then all of them came.  It was truly heart-warming.

If you enlarge this picture, you will see a red circle near the top.  This is where the horses were when they saw us.  The water is down where the snow is.
We had stopped for a picnic lunch in one of their favorite meadows, thinking they had gone somewhere for water, as we were later in the day than usual.  We took a short nap in the sun, then decided we would finish the circuit of their favorite pastures on our way down.  Imagine our surprise when we topped the highest part, looked over the edge of a crest and spotted the the bottom of a gully, and then to have them come rushing all the way to meet us.  We started down, but they got to us before we could even get off the first hill.
Brownie, the one to the left of Bill, is never this friendly.   They all seemed in good spirits and we had a great time.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Racy Jokes

Drawing a blank, so how about some canned corn.

I played a great horse yesterday, it took seven horses to beat him!

"I bet $100 on a horse last week and he came in at twenty five to one." "Wow! You must be loaded," said Fred. "Not really," said George, "the rest of the field came in at twelve thirty."

Some race horses staying in a stable. One of them starts to boast about his track record. "In the last 15 races, I've won 8 of them!" Another horse breaks in, "Well in the last 27 races, I've won 19!!" "Oh that's good, but in the last 36 races, I've won 28!", says another, flicking his tail. At this point, they notice that a greyhound dog has been sitting there listening. "I don't mean to boast," says the greyhound, "but in my last 90 races, I've won 88 of them!" The horses are clearly amazed. "Wow!" says one, after a hushed silence. "A talking dog."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why ride?

  Why do I ride?  Why does anybody ride?  Who do you suppose was the first moron to say "Hey! Watch this!" and jump on a thousand pound, fear driven, prey animal's back.  "Ungg, you out of you mind?!?"  Crash.  After they finished burying Ungg's bones, and saying a few words "Ungg was crazy bast@rd", most probably went on with their lives, except for the one or two that thought "Wow, that looked like a BLAST".  I am one of them.

   I ride for fun.  I don't care how I look.  I don't care how my horse looks.  I ride for my enjoyment and my horse's employment. It's fun to ride in the sun. Its fun to ride in the snow. It's fun to ride in the rain (though I admit I HATE to saddle a wet horse).  I trail ride.

  We have the great fortune to live within walking distance of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Rocky Mountain National Park and Roosevelt National Forest.  We can just saddle up and RIDE!  The trails are many, and the trails are beautiful.  The rides are easy or the rides can be challenging.  They are not called the "Sandy Mountains", they are rocky.  We mostly ride at a walk.

  The livery across the street from us has needed us to take out rides for them from time to time in the past, and we could end up taking out riders of any age, experience or discipline.  On one sunny day several years ago, the manager at the livery called and said "Bill, we have an experienced rider that we need you to take out.  She owns, and teaches at, a hunter jumper school in Texas, so she can ride."  We saddled up, and off we went.  

  We went up and over a section of trail we call the "Goat Trail" in the national forest.  I was just moseying along on my horse when I heard behind me, well, an assortment of calls for help to all aspects of the Christian deity, both old and new testament.  When we got to the bottom of the trail, she leapt off her horse and ran back up the trail with her camera in hand.  There was NO WAY she was going to let go of the saddle horn long enough to take pictures, so she had to go back on foot to take the pictures.

  As a "hunter jumper" rider, she wasn't used to steep rocky trails, and told me on the ride back she doubted any of her horses could climb that trail without serious threat to life and limb, but for our guys it was just a "walk in the park".  She, on the other hand could leap obstacles at a dead run on her horses. I can guarantee that I would soil my breeches if I even approached a jump like that (and my horse would probably stop, bend back and bite me if I tried).

    If I lived in an urban area with no trails, I might be interested in jumping, or dressage, or any number of "arena disciplines", just so I could ride.  Point is, we "horse people" ride where and how we can.

   Ungg would be proud.