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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Colic 101

Last few days our blog has mostly been about "Colic".  Some of you non-horsey types may not understand the disease, so here is a quick primer on it.

Colic is a general term for "pain in the gut" (not pain in the butt).  When you have a "colicky" baby  it's usually not life threatening to the infant, at least not since the "Don't Shake the Baby" campaign got started.  In people, it's mostly just pain from gas or cramping.

Colic in horse's is different. It can be, and often is, fatal.  The severity of colic in horses is due to the design of the horses digestive system, and how they are being fed and housed.  A wild horse has access to feed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but has to walk 10 to 20 miles a day to get it.  That goes a long way toward keeping things moving in their gut.  Most domestic horses have a couple bigger meals each day, and stand in a pen an awful lot of the time.  They don't much mind, because it is easier to find their forage (it shows up magically after they holler for a few minutes), but their systems need more work to work.

Colic is most dangerous when it is a blockage of some sort in the horses digestive system, and it's a big system.

*5 feet of esophagus. (swallow tube)

*Stomach. (4 gallon capacity)

*70 feet of small intestine (where most nutrients are absorbed)

Then you get to the large intestine.

*4 feet of the "cecum", an interesting organ that has no real counterpart in humans.  It's an 8 gallon bladder that holds a grass soup so bacteria can break down the soup into components that the intestines can absorb.  A number of colic's are caused here by changing the feed the horse eats too quickly, and not having the right bacteria in the gut for fermentation of the new food.  (I suspect the same problem is seen in humans with gluten intolerance.  If you go for a couple weeks eating no gluten, the bugs in your gut that break it down will starve.  Then when you start again, AARRRG!  Colic!)

Question---I wonder, if you  gave a horse brewers yeast, would they make beer in the cecum?

*12 feet of large colon (absorb carbohydrates, which were broken down from cellulose in the cecum.)

*12 feet of small colon (absorbs the water from the soup and turns the poop into balls)

*1 foot of rectum (Holding chamber)

Tooth to tail you end up with over 100 feet of tubing that holds nearly 50 gallons of primordial soup, in an animal that can't even burp.  If any thing goes wrong (kinks, blockages, etc) the animal will be in great distress, and may die.

Years ago, I talked with a vet about the types of problems he most often saw in horses.  He told me "Four legs and a gut, that's all horses are.  If you can work on those, you have over 90% of the problems covered."

Makes my little bit of heartburn seem kind of... insignificant.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On the Road to Recovery

Just a quick note to say Queen Estes is indeed on the road to recovery.  Last night we all finally had a spark of optimism about a recovery - when she got sassy about the quantity of food (or lack of quantity) she was given, but we had to get her system started back up gradually.  Explain that to a horse!  She even got to manage to bypass her 2:00 a.m. pain meds.  Today, she and the rest of the herd spent catching up on sleep.  I hadn't realized just how worried all the guys were about her.  Usually, Estes is a little stand-offish from the rest of the herd when resting.  Today, she was surrounded by three sleeping horses, all with their heads down and tails slowly swaying in the breeze.  I would have gotten a picture if I thought I could have gotten close enough without waking them.  Many thanks to all for your concerns - and hope life is going well for all of you.  Gonna go get some sleep.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Not-Good Surprise

I guess I'm the one who gets to break the bad news.  When I left a lodge full of people (literally, 26 of us!) this morning to go feed, I knew something was wrong.  GunDiva's horse wouldn't come when called.  I put feed in the others' bowls and called Estes again.  This time she came over very slowly and stuck her nose in the bowl, then gave me a pathetic look, "I just can't eat right now."  Oh-oh.

"So, Estes, what's wrong?"  To this she walked over to a soft spot, laid down and curled herself into a ball.

I hop through the fence, grabbing a piece of twine on the way.  "Come on, girl, let's walk!"  A few times around the corral and I started hearing gut sounds.  Another half dozen times around and she laid down and stretched this time.  More walking, a few 'Hershey's squirts' and I thought we were making progress.  She appeared much better, followed me around a few more times, voluntarily with some little trots, then headed for her bowl.  I wasn't much worried as I had seen Jesse clean it out.  I was just glad to see her show interest.

I headed back to the lodge to help with dishes, then back out to check.  Good gut sounds, good look in her eye, gentle tail swishing, so I thought we had beat it this time.  Back to the lodge to start changing rooms.

Phone rings:  Compass calling to say Estes is down-and not looking good.  Back out to the corral.  This time it was pretty apparent we needed to do more.  Had to struggle to get her up, walking, walking, walking.  Wrangler helping take turns to keep her on her feet.  Notice what she is passing is full of sand.  Call GunDiva, call the vet - both of whom are on their way up in a rush.  Decide to do an IV Banamine and keep her moving.  I found myself talking under my breath; more chanting, really, "You will NOT die on my shift.  Keep moving!"

Bless her heart; she kept pace with all of us and did keep moving.  Once she did go down and got her feet tangled in the rails when she rolled, but we were able to keep her from casting and got her moving again.  Once the Banamine started taking effect, she started moving a little easier.  GunDiva and the vet showed up a few minutes apart.  Poor Estes got tubed and lubed; new experiences for all of us.  She was an absolute jewel through all of this.

Five hours later.  Now she seems to be resting.  Vet says we are not out of this yet; it will take about a week to get all the sand out of her system and we will probably see more colic.  We've put mats down under the feeders and will start psyllium treatments tomorrow.  Bill just came back from checking and said she has minimal gut sounds.  We are just waiting for the orange Metamucil to do its job; the vet would actually like her to lie down and rest.  We worked so hard keeping her up, I think she's afraid to lie down now.  Looking around the corral, I think she pooped out a good deal of the sand before we even noticed this morning, as the vet just got some sandy stuff and some good looking stuff, too.  Hoping that's a good sign.
GunDiva is staying the night, on vigil.  Estes's to have another shot of Banamine in a couple of hours.

I asked the vet why only Estes is having problems, as all the horses eat together and the same stuff.  He believes Mustangs tend to move sand through their systems better (gut of iron, he says) and they tend to NOT snuff up ground as they eat.  No matter; they are all getting treated this week!  I'm thinking this could be part of the reason Jesse gets touchy around the loins and rather grouchy at this time of year - every year.  Then she has a couple loose movements and she's all better.  Hmmmm?

We are always learning with horses.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thanks For the Memories

My mind works like lightning. One brilliant flash, and it’s gone.  Minimum information retention.  I tell our guests I have a mind like a steel sieve.

What the heck is that for?

Sometimes I envy the horse's memory recall.  They remember where every rock, log, stump and flower were on the trail when they last went down it.  Total recall.  Photographic memory.

The horse's brain developed when the were "Equis-ittibittycus" and stood about 18 inches tall.  It has served them so well  that very few changes in their reactions have occurred over the years even though their size has changed drastically.  A log rolled into a different place requires careful examination.  Might have been moved by some sort of equiniverous critter and is being used as a hiding place.  Maybe a sabre-toothed bunny rabbit or something.

Their recall is sometimes quite useful.

Last spring, during our endless winter, I was riding in the national forest with the gal that runs the livery across the street from us.  We were off trail (no way of seeing the trail, it was under several inches to several feet of snow).  We were heading home.  Ranger is all about going home, so I was slightly surprised when he veered away from the direct route home I was taking, and went 20 or 30 feet off at a tangent before returning to the direct route.  Compass's horse, that hasn't been on that hillside nearly as often, took the direct route.  He found himself floundering in a 4 foot deep snow bank that there was NO WAY of spotting from the surface.  You needed to know where the drifted over low spot was.  I didn't remember, but Ranger did.

 A couple days ago, Juanita and I went out on a ride, and right beside the trail some bark had fallen off a dead aspen tree.  Juanita's horse Jesse looked it over VERY CAREFULLY before going past.  It was just outside the horse's Coral, so I don't know if she saw a bear or elk knock the bark off the tree, or it just wasn't the way it used to look, but she was on DEFCON 3 for a moment.  She finally decided that the missing bark posed no immediate threat, and we went on for an enjoyable monster free ride.

I'm sure I had a point to make with this post, but I can't recall what it was. 

Probably was going to be really funny.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Historic Hotels - Yeah

I went riding with one of our guest couples yesterday.  We had spent a good deal of time chatting the evening before; she helps manage a 101 year old historic hotel.  She had a very interesting story about several people in town banding together to 'save' this historic sight.  Between monies of their own and grants, they were able to have this beautiful building restored and now have it up and running.  Check out the Weaver Hotel in Waterville, KS.  It was a lot of fun discussing the differences and likenesses of running two totally different types of lodging.  They have a lot of history connected to the railroad, so their business consists of travelers interested in that, plus the normal set of family reunions and groups.  Whereas most of our business is hikers and visitors to Rocky Mt. National Park, we are more seasonal.  Needless to say, we shared lots of laughs, so when they mentioned going riding the next morning, I tagged along.  It turned out I also got to 'teach' the liveries new farrier/wrangler the trail.  It's funny how things just seem to work out!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sophie the Lodge Dog

Valentine's Day, 2002

Juanita and I went to one of the cities down the mountain from us to find a dog for the lodge (our previous dog had died the December before and the lodge was just FAR too empty when we would come home).  Sophie was sitting in the back of her cage there at the humane society,  surrounded by maniacal barking dogs in the other cages.  She was just watching.  I checked the clipboard on her pen.

"So.  Your name is Sophie."

She heard her name and walked up to the front of her kennel to introduce herself.  She went home with us.

Sophie had been returned a couple of times for "behavior problems".  Well, she had been behaving like a puppy.  At 6-7 months, she was still very much a puppy.

We had a vacation planned starting several days after we took the dog home with us, so after spending a few days with us, we took her to our favorite kennel in Estes Park, so we could fly away.  When we got home, I returned to pick her up from the kennel.  Happy, bouncy young dog greeted me at the counter.  Happy, bouncy young dog rode home with me to the lodge.  The happy, bouncy young dog jumped out of the car and ran to the front door.  She stared at it for a moment.  Then she looked at me, then back to the door.  Then she LOST HER MIND!


Happy, bouncy young dog knew her place in the world.

Sophie has been greeting guests, playing with guests and being stroked by guests for the last 9 and a half years.  She has never met a stranger, just people who haven't petted her yet.

She would join us in the fall on our trail rides, and had her own blaze orange t-shirt to wear during hunting season,  Washoe the horse taught her how to walk down the trail  WELL in front of the following horses.

We began buying pickup trucks with back seats so she could join us on vacations when we took the horses with us.  She would join us on trail rides when she could, and sleep in the truck or trailer when she wasn't allowed.

Well, the old girl has slowed down noticeably this summer.  Wal-mart would have canned her for slacking on her greeting people as they come through the door.  Sometimes the newcomers rate no more than a raised eyebrow.

I guess she is 70 in "dog years". 

So, last weekend I changed the sign over the desk

I've never seen that much hair on a slug.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Howling Dogs

We have a contingency of "Brit's" in the lodge, and before breakfast (AFTER catching Jesse and putting her back in the corral) one of them was talking about the howling dogs that woke them up at 4:30 this morning.

"No" I said, "Those were coyotes."

Their eyes got big.

"I'm glad to hear them again.  It means the mountain lion across the highway has moved farther away." I told them.

""Now the coyotes can start eating the rabbits in our parking lot again."

Their smiles were as big as there eyes by now.

Welcome to the American West.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Exhaustion and Horses Don't Mix

We've been running on very little sleep and a lot of people for quite awhile now, and it finally took its toll on me today.   I went out to feed this morning; beautiful day, quiet, well-behaved horses.  Maybe too quiet.  They were being so good standing at their bowls eating....

I've been haltering Washoe and tying him lightly to the post by his bowl, to keep him from sneaking over to Estes' bowl as soon as I would walk away to get their hay.  He's been doing really well, as long as he has the halter on.  Today he stood so quietly, even after I got the hay and gave them each some apple chunks, that I forgot I had him tied and I walked back across the street to the Lodge.

Suddenly I hear Compass calling my name (she is on horseback getting ready to take a ride out) and yelling something about Jesse and the fence.  I turn back in time to see the whole side of the buck fence tip over.  Yep, ever seen eight sections of fence topple?  It's quite a site!  Apparently Jesse had gone around to Washoe's side of the feeder (which had slid way too far down the hill over the last few weeks), crowding him into thinking he was in too close of proximity to the picky mare.  They both got their feet tangled in the wooden portion of the feeder and in the melee to free their feet, the lead rope tangled in the fence, breaking as the fence toppled.  Horses were flying everywhere!!!

As luck would have it, one of our male guests and his 21 yo son were also out and came running to help.  While I calmed the horses down, got Washoe into the little side pen and convinced Jesse to NOT jump the whole contraption, they managed to upright a section of the fence.  The three of us were actually able to get the thing set back up, section by section and put the feeder back where it belonged.  Fortunately, our horses like their pen well enough that we didn't have them scattered across the countryside.  A lot of Mustang snorting from Ranger, some huffing from Estes who wanted the hay laying under the fence, major bucking antics and racing around from Jesse, but that was the extent of the excitement.  I turned Washoe loose from his pen and they all went back to eating - from the monster feeder.

Tonight I go out to feed....and everyone lines up at the proper bowl at the fenceline...just like nothing had ever happened!  You gotta love a happy herd.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Small Town Vehicles

Here in Allenspark, you learn the local vehicles fairly quickly.  They are the ones you see over and over mixed with the tourist trade cars you only see a time or two.

We noticed this truck cruising Main Street right away.

Kinda Stands Out

Saw the truck several more times, and then parked at our neighbors, just south of the lodge.
Next time, at the fire station.

Naw, it can't be!?!

Yup.  That's our local Fire Chief's truck.

It's like, camouflage.



Monday, August 15, 2011


The famous 'hunters' didn't actually get to ride yesterday - family obligations popped up, so no, no moose were spotted.  However, now something has broken into the front of the corral:  BROKEN bottom pole pushed inward, more mangled wire and smaller hoof prints going IN.  I told Bill I don't know why we even bother with a fence; our HORSES aren't going anywhere!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bye Jack

Just got word that a cowboy friend succumbed to throat and lung cancer after a long and painful battle.

He was diagnosed shortly after our (trip to South Dakota) last year.

If you smoke, stop.

Jack, you will be missed.

Ride on,

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Just came in from feeding and yes, I checked the fence line, and yes, it was broken again.  This time I DID get the camera and a ruler to measure the foot print from last night.  I also collected a wrangler from the livery on the way, to get his ideas.  He agreed that it was a definitely large animal; the print was more than six inches across, a good six inches deep in the mud and had a split hoof.  His guess was moose, also, and to add to that, today a moose cow and two calves were spotted up at the pond by one of their rides.

The wrangler was able to track it further into the grass to see how it left the scene of its wreckage.  Tomorrow, Beel and GunDiva will be going riding and I bet everyone can guess where they will be headed!

Guard Horse

I don't know what Jesse shooed out of the corral this time, but it was BIG!  Kyzzer and I were cleaning the ditch last night so the horses' water source would run better and I noticed a lot of hot wire  'popped' off the top rails, so I started walking the fence line and soon came to a broken spot in the fence.  We have a 4 ft. tall buck fence, so having the top rail missing is noticeable - when you look for it - it's down in the middle of the aspens where only the horses go...usually.  The top rail had been knocked off with great force and there were HUGE footprints imbedded in very deep mud.  I am guessing it was an elk, even though none have been spotted here recently.  Bill thinks it could have possibly even been a moose.  Whatever, its feet were bigger than Jesse's the bigfoot, and sunk a good eight inches into the mud at the creek edge there.  Don't know where or how it got into the corral, but it wasn't allowed to stay very long!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011


August 5-7, 2011: our second annual High Country Rendezvous has come to end, with lots more smiles, giggles, sore muscles and most fantastic weather. The only sad points were not getting to see many friends made last year, due to family/work emergencies…but it has already been scheduled for next year, so there is a chance for redemption (hint, hint, HINT!!!)

Due to a lack of enough riding participants for horse games, Friday became a free day for sight-seeing in the area, then an afternoon and evening at the Larimer County Fair, where we enjoyed rounds of Cowboy Mounted Shooting, Splash Dogs, Fair food, tractors, small animals, big animals (I was taken by the Yaks!) and of course, the Draft Horse Pulls. (Killashandra, you need to post some of your most fabulous pictures from your free time and the Fair.)

Saturday, we awoke to beautiful weather and the rest of our riding contingency. GunDiva had arrived late evening from her stint at HorseMaster filming and a couple more ladies joined us from the Ft. Collins area, and we had Killashandra’s family from NM. Eight of us mounted up after breakfast to ride into Rocky Mt. National Park, namely Calypso Cascades in the Wild Basin region.
Gettin' mounted up:  Killashandra on Boone & W on Thunder
GunDiva on Estes, Autobot on Jesse (hidden), Bionic Cowgirl on Washoe....
GunDiva demonstrating a yoga warm-up stretch (heaven & earth?), our two friends from FC.

Leavin' town!  Yeah!
The line up:  me in front, Autobot, Killashandra, W, C on Chip, D on Ali, Beel, on Ranger, and GunDiva on the camera.
 Beel and Ranger, acting as outrider.
Two miles down the road we come to the entrance to RMNP and head up the trail.
The easy part is over as we start up one of the staircases along the way; this is a long, steep span with all eight horses on it at the same time.
Autobot on Jesse, taking a rest while all the horses finished the stairs.
Finally, a view from the top of the world, looking across Wild Basin to Pagoda Mountain.
Renewed growth....a healthy forest awaits us.
Yes, W, it was a long way up!  You and Thunder did a GREAT job!
We had just gone two miles up, now we have to go back down one mile to get to Calypso Cascades, and our adventures aren't over yet....
This log bridging on the side of the log slide is always good for taking your breath away, because if you looked over your right shoulder down that support, it's a really loooong way down.
Then we come to the rock slide area, getting closer to the cascades; after all, water running over rocks creates cascades, right?
Finally, lunch break.  We had left the Lodge at 11:00 am and made it to the Cascades about 1:30 pm.  This big flat rock is a favorite eating place - and check out the view.... below our feet....
... and looking up the hill.

Now we had some decisions to make.  Just before getting to the cascades, GD's horse, Estes, slipped a foot off the trail, getting some scratches and leaving her sore.  GunDiva had chosen to walk the rest of the way in and said she would walk Estes out, but going down the Wild Basin trail instead of the Allenspark Trail we had arrived by.  Upon further discussion, nobody really wanted to ride the same trail back - thinking about all those stairsteps - in reverse.  The WB trail is somewhat shorter, and less difficult, but it also meant some long stretches along the highway to get back to the Lodge.  Since all these horses are trained for riding along the highway and not bothered by speeding traffic, the decision was made.
Mounting up after lunch, rested horses, food fortified humans, the two youngest on the trip in great humor.
Since GunDiva refused all offers of a lift - most of these horses are trained to double - Bill chose to walk also.  GD kept saying something about her trainer was going to be so impressed with the "workout".
On the pretense of giving the walkers a rest after a mile and a half - OK, so maybe some of our seatbones were wanting a rest, also - we stopped at Copeland Falls at the base of the Wild Basin trail.
That water looked good enough to jump in, except we all knew how cold it was!

This is about the last of the pics; we were all too tired to keep our camera hands up.  We rode another two miles of horse trail after leaving the trailhead to get to Wild Basin Lodge, a mile of paved road through Olive Ridge campground, and a mile along the main highway back to our lodge.  We spent six hours on horseback plus another half hour of lunch time.  The kids were the greatest of troopers; not a whine out of either of them!

We ended the night with southwest pork steaks and brownie sundaes.  You know, ice cream makes everything better!!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


We had a group of Bloggers/Horseback riders up this last weekend for our 2nd annual High Country Rendezvous (HCRII) and it was a blast.

Went on a road trip to the county fair to watch draft horse pulls, mounted cowboy (and cowgirl) shooting and all the other usual county fair stuff.

Nice long ride up to Calipso Cascades in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We were riding about 6 hours (Okay, 5 1/4 hours with an 45 minute lunch).

The youngest rider was 6 year old "W" and he didn't poop out until the last 30 minutes or so of the ride.
He rocked!

At one point we were riding along the highway to get home, and a bicycle passed us from the rear.  I hollered "BIKE" to warn the other riders, but W's horse Thunder was surprised by it's sudden and silent appearance and did a 8 foot spook.  W brought him back into line no problem.  And a couple minutes later, I heard W yell "BIKE" as another one showed up from the other direction.  The kid learned fast.

We don't normally have kids under 14 years old as guests, but special arrangements were made for this group.  It was fun having some little ones running around.  I gave an impromptu magic show for 2 year old "E" at breakfast this morning.  When a bird magically showed up under my napkin, I think his Mom laughed until tears ran down her leg.

                  Oh give me a break.  He's only two.  He didn't get it.

We had several guest/friends we had hoped could be here this year but couldn't make it due to illness in the family,  death in the family or a cranky parole officer.  We hope they can all attend next year.

We'll post more and with pictures later.

  I need a nap.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Just a Walk in the Park

I went for a ride in the forest north of Allenspark last week.
And I have been slow in posting pictures.

Wife Juanita, our daughter Nebelle and her daughter Autobot were in attendance.

Nice ride.

The four of us spent an hour or two riding in the national forest.

Everyone was having fun.
Hang on... What's wrong with this picture?

 Yup.  The twelve year old granddaughter is riding Ranger, the fire breathing mustang
bareback and in just a halter.

Secrets out. "Diablo a Caballo" is really "Perro Grande".

Kinda embarrassing to let people know...


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

'Tis the Season

It's that time of year.  In mid May, we go from weekends only to full time here at the lodge, and we keep it up until mid October.  That puts Juanita and me at work 24/7 for about 5 months.  August 1st is the halfway point.  Hump month I guess.

Late July is when I start looking around the table at the guests while we are eating breakfast and ask "Don't you people have homes?"  On the odd day we do take off, we feed guests in the morning, clean up after they leave at 11:am and then check guests in at 3:pm the following day.  More like a shift change than a day off.

 This summer we do have "B.A." working for us.  She was sister "B" in Riding with the Guests, and she is really helping spread the work load.  So we have three of us working far too many hours.

But now, we are halfway to the off season (when we will only put in 80 hours a week).  And in a couple days we are having a group in, and we will mostly be horseback riding.  I can't wait!  That's time off while working!