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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Loose Cannon

Capturing Cannon-The Long Walk Home

What an adventure. I think we have recuperated enough to recap some of “the walk”. In short, we hiked the mountain to bring Cannon back to the main ranch for some further training. He is Ida’s 4 yo gelding, grandson to our daughter’s horse, Estes, and friendly enough – as long as you don’t have a halter in your hand (hence, the need for more training). The day was beautiful and we found the horses on the nearest pasture from the quarry, and as usual, they came to greet us.

After passing out the dried waffle treats, the horses all settled down to grazing, and thinking we were on a roll, here, Bill started the walk-down with Cannon.
The theory is to walk with them and when they stop, you stop, releasing the pressure.

Soon, they will usually come to you or wait for you to go to them. Cannon would let Bill approach but “don’t you dare show me that halter!” More walking, up the snowy hill, down the snowy hill, all around the herd – for one solid hour! We finally decided to just move the whole herd down to the truck, as I had called Ida and told her we would meet her there. She would bring a trailer to load Cannon and the rest could just come back on their own. The next decision was direction. We were really quite close but would have to go through a very narrow gate, onto the quarry property, then a good mile walk along a jeep road and back through a gate onto the lease land. Since we had only brought two halters, we weren’t sure we could control all 8 horses and maneuver the gates. If they scattered on us on the quarry property, it would not be a fun time! OK, we go down the long way, across the upper ridge, through the trees and down some very steep terrain, in very deep snow…but with the thought that if the going got too tough, we could just release the horses and try another day, but at least we wouldn’t lose any of them. We haltered Jesse, as she is the lead mare, and Dutch, because he can be the stubborn, slow one who just might decide to not go with us (and then all of Ida’s horses would stay with him, including Cannon).

I led with Jesse until the herd got the idea that we were all moving together. They lined up very nicely and followed in a line until we got to a steep, snowy slope that we decided was just tooooo much. We broke into two groups then and scouted along the ridge until the horses recognized a trail down and we headed through the trees. Many times we had to stop and consult them for directions, as the regular trails were not passable with the snow, but they soon got the idea and were very helpful.
Dutch, looking when Washoe says, "Go left."
I wish we had more pictures of the terrain, but there was no way I could hang onto a camera and negotiate the trail leading a horse. Jesse saved me from many falls when my feet would slide off a rock under the snow going down the steep parts, and I would grab for her mane to keep from falling; such a patient horse! Then she would let me ‘tail-up’ to get back up the next steep hill. Once, I even had to turn her loose to slide down the hill and she waited for me at the top of the next slope. In the mean time...

Okay, in the mean time Juanita has some homework to do, so I’m gunna finish this entry.

In the mean time, we were trudging cross country (you know, I have a friend in Arizona who has told me that he NEVER has to “trudge” in Arizona, “trudging” is a snow-step) until we reached a point where the horses seemed to realize “OH! I know where we are heading now!” and off they went down to the river. If I started heading in a “less than optimal” direction, they would veer off until I came to my senses and started following them.
There was a LOT of down and up involved!
 We finally reached the last plateau before the river after a 2 ½ mile stroll in the wilderness.  The horses spread out to graze a bit, until we led them down to the river-road and started the last ¼ mile walk to Ida’s trailer, where she had set up a catch pen.

Cannon went straight into the pen and loaded into the trailer like the whole thing was his idea.   Dork.  If he had let us catch him, it would have been a 1 ½ mile walk on a dry road , with no damn trudging involved.

The horses that accompanied us on the journey got a final treat (hay and grain) to keep them occupied while the truck and trailer went out of the gate hauling the young horse to his next series of lessons, hopefully involving some “standing for haltering” training.

Maybe Cannon is just a big shot that feels he needs an "entourage" for traveling.  Dork.

Juanita (& Bill)


  1. Quite a trek - can't wait to hear more!

  2. Dork. But he's a handsome one, isn't he?

  3. Kate- it was a lot of work, but we loved it!

    GunDiva- you would love the looks of a 3 legged donkey, as long as it was a bay! ;) But yeah- he's a beauty.

    Did you know if snow gets into a nice pair of waterproof boots, it melts and can't come out?



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