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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.



Friday, August 31, 2012

Just Playing

video
A few days ago (when there was not enough time for a ride), I decided to just have a play session with Jesse.  I want to work on enhancing her 'sign language', but we had to end the session with a little frisbee play.  It caught the attention of some of our guests, who started taking pictures; later Bill fessed up that he was trying to video the frisbee part, but it was a little blurry.  So... even though it's not the greatest, you will get the idea ....

At breakfast that morning we had had a huge discussion on why we feel building trust and a partnership with our horse is so important.  Notice Jesse is working with only her skinny halter and I have the lead rope tied around her neck; at best it can only be used as a neck strap.  She is working solely on body position and voice commands, next to a road (traffic passed us a few times) and a stranger moving all over trying to get good pictures.  Later that day, the guests said they thought they "got" the trust thing.

Bionic Cowgirl

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Bad Couple Days

This is Ranger.  The horse.

This last few days have not been quiet and good.  Things have happened that I remember, and that is not good.  I remember them because they are different.  Different is not good.  Ever.

Some days ago, Waneeta started to feed us some new food things in our bowl-food.  I only ate one "alfalfer cube" the first time to see if I would get sick. 

I did not get sick. 

So the next day, I was ready to eat more.  Only the next day, the alfalfer cubes were WET.  So they were different again.  So I only got to eat one again.  But I was very hungry, so I ate more.

I did not get sick.

Yestersunrise, I was ready to eat them again and walked up to my bowl.  As I walked up to my bowl, the most horribliest smell crawled into my nose and hurt me.  There was poison-badness in my bowl this time.

I REFUSE to get sick.

I went over to That Mares' bowl, and took her food.  It did not have any cherry poison "glue-cos-a-mean" poured on it.

That Mare went over and took The Kids' bowl.

The Kid went over and ate the bad stuff in my bowl.  He will eat ANYTHING.  (What is a "Mikey"?)



Then, when the sun got high, Beel came over and put the rope on my head and taked me to go and "mow the yard".  That is good, and usual.  Beel sits in a chair in the grass behind the people barn and holds my head-rope, and then I eat the yard.  But when it was time to go back to the corral, Beel sayed "Let's take a short-cut, buddy" and we walked RIGHT THROUGH THE PEOPLE BARN.  I was very brave and was not scared.  Any.  Or much.  Later, Beel telled me he feeled "like a fool trying to explain to our guests why they could not bring their dog into the lodge after I had just walked a HORSE through it".  That should be easy to understand.

I NEVER bark.


Then today we went for a ride and everyone was laughing at my hair.

I thought "alfalfa" was food.
  Maybe next week will be better, and I will not have anything to say.


Ranger










Thursday, August 23, 2012

Aborted Ride

This week's training ride was a much more strenuous version:  ride up the St. Vrain Trail to above timberline, cross over some marshy area following cairns and come back down the Rock Creek Trail; about a 6 - 6.5 hr. ride overall on some tough terrain.

We had only gone about 4 blocks when we found some new construction in the neighborhood, being masterminded by a tractor-monster.  All three horses passed it quietly, but when Bill wanted to go back for pictures, Ranger had other things in mind; you can sneak past something the first time, but you don't go back and challenge it (R's version).
Of course, we have to pass the llama farm on this road, so we stopped to say hello to our friends.  We left when one of them looked like it was going to spit at us.  There were seven total, this time.  I thing they were just as curious about Ranger's ears.
Llama, llama.....ears!  See a resemblance, Ranger?

Once you get to the National Forest signs along a dirt road (1.75 mi from us), you have an option of continuing along the road or short-cutting on a trail through the woods - a no-brainer for us:  the trail.
This one does not ever get much use, so we expected to encounter a lot of underbrush, which would be good practice for me.  I was riding Washoe and towing Jesse.  (GunDiva wasn't able to make this week's ride.)  Washoe needs lots of direction, and fortunately, Jesse needs none so I figured I could turn her loose if need be and Bill would pick her up as he came up from behind.  It didn't take long to get challenging; less than 100 yards in we came to this ....
yeah, taller than me and my horses.  So we detoured up and around ...
Guiding Washoe over this stuff with neck reining one handed can be a challenge in itself, but thankfully Jesse can pick through on her own ...
... and back down the other side ...
Hey, who put this branch over head?
Riding in our country isn't just horse exercise; you had better be ready to do a little dodging, too.
We finally get to ride the actual trail for a ways, cross the stream (no water, though, boohoo), and head up the other side.  Cavaletti, anyone?
.... and more ....
I'm thankful the Mustangs are so agile; they step over and through these things that people tell us horses can't do without breaking a leg.
The whole hill was this way, but we finally top out and head for the road again.
Finally, NICE, maintained trail.
We thought we were now in for a quiet, peaceful ride.  Little did we know this trail would soon turn into "devil" trail.  It soon started getting quite rough with rocks.  At a loss for pictures here; too hard to navigate and handle a camera too.
The horses started getting peeved because we had passed quite a few good picnic spots, according to Ranger, the trail was getting considerably narrower and the rocks were SHARP!
Our guys are barefoot.  I've often thought of trying boots, but usually we just avoid much of this stuff, so when our guys say, "I don't want to do this any more," we listen, so we took stock of the trail and the weather moving in, decided we were only 2/3 of the way to the top and didn't know what the other trail would be like (usually worse than this one), and saw a storm moving towards us.  We decided it would be best to not be on these rocks when slippery, even barefoot!  So ... we aborted.  Sad.

The horses were much happier about heading down; they didn't even want to stop at the picnic spot, but we did anyway.  We all needed a bit of a rest.  Unfortunately, there wasn't much graze, but Beel shared his apple and they each got their own granola bar.
Notice the ears; this is what our horses do when they see or hear a plastic bag.
Please?! 
Ranger took his turn with Jesse following on the trip down.


So, we finally got down and headed for home.  Seems as if the workout was a bit stressful for Washoe; he was one tired pony.  It was only maybe 1.5 - 2 miles each way on the 'real' trail, but it was tough having to pick every foot fall.  Add the almost 2 miles each way to get to the trail head and it was a good 3 hour ride.
When we got down, I switched to Jess to give Washoe's feet a break.  I don't want him too sore for the big rides coming up in a couple weeks.
I realize I am pretty spoiled.  Hop off one horse and hop on the other, bareback and no head gear but her halter.  I certainly felt 'over-dressed' in my chaps and all!
Almost home.  Now all we have to do is pass the tractor-monster ....
... who seems to be sleeping ... and just as curious.

It was a good training ride, even if it didn't follow 'the plan'.
Bionic Cowgirl

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thou Shalt Not Eat .. and Obstacles and Monsters! (long)

Yesterday we had our first 'day off' in five weeks ... and we intended to spend it on horseback, so after feeding breakfast to our guests (and literally kicking them out at 11:00 a.m.), we had planned on a LONG ride - as in three weeks we will be doing multiple long rides with a horse group staying with us - and had not done a lot in continuing conditioning, for either our horses or ourselves.  Due to several surprise appearances of friends and relatives, including getting GunDiva's horse chiropractically adjusted, we managed to leave the lodge parking lot at 1:00 p.m., complete with lunches to eat at Calypso Cascades - our goal.

GunDiva went with us to exercise Washoe, her favorite Wonder Idiot, as she calls him.  As usual, they started off with a few disagreements as to what is appropriate feeding technique while on a ride.  (I know, he's 10, but he's still always hungry!)  Our other horses are allowed to snatch a bite as we go along because that's exactly what they do; snatch a quick mouthful without stopping.  Washoe has to bury his head in everything he thinks might be tasty; kind of like a salad bar.

This is what a glorious day it was!  Yes, you see a bit of yellow on the trees; it is already getting close to freezing at night at this altitude.
Along the way, GunDiva spotted a deer, who stood and watched us for the longest time ...
No, Mr. Daddy, you may not shoot her.  We are in the National Park and they know they are safe.
A little further along, GunDiva spotted bear claw marks on the aspens next to the trail.  This should have been a scavenger hunt - and GunDiva would have won by default!
Look, Washoe's decided to be a good boy and work well for GunDiva.  He really doesn't eat ALL the time.
He really showed his stuff when we got to the first set of stairs.
Jesse contemplated the second stairway - remembering all too well, I think.  Notice how pretty Mrs. Mom's halter looks on her.  Yes, Washoe has his on also.  Both horses like them really well, I think because they are so light and don't chafe under their headstalls.
We had such fantastic views!  It looks like we are going to walk right off the ridge.  More than a few times, GD was pretty sure they were going to go off the edge, accusing Washoe of walking right on the very edge.  All the horses did in some spots; haven't figured out why but they all did it.  In other places they would hug the wall.  I think part of the problem for GD was the lopsided wear on my saddle she was using.  When my hips were bad, I rode off to one side a bit and apparently the saddle reflects that, which caused her to feel like the saddle was crooked when it wasn't, and causing a tiny twist in her back (just enough to be annoying).
I know there are a lot of fires destroying a lot of our beloved forest lands this year.  Just a shot to show you that it will rejuvenate and become beautiful again.  This is one of our burn areas.... and the haze you see in the distance is smoke from the fires in the Pacific Northwest right now, which has come all the way down through the Rockies.
 Washoe deciding if the trail just drops off the face of the earth.  Such spectacular views, even with the new tree falls.
Jesse and I maneuvering one of the trickier down-hill corners.  OK, Jesse did all the work; I was playing with my camera.

 This was an interesting trail obstacle:  an uprooted tree that had been trimmed back to open the trail - with dirt still clinging to the overhanging roots.  We thought it looked monstrous and the horses walked by like it didn't exist. We finally got to the hitch rack at Calypso Cascades and are getting ready for lunch. 
 
Notice the look on Washoe's face; now notice the horn bag on GD's shoulder.  About 3 seconds after this shot was taken, he had snatched that horn bag off her shoulder and slung it 20 feet over the rail to Ranger.  We all roared with laughter because we were sure he was saying, "Watch this!  How do you like having YOUR food taken away from you?!"
We discovered a new tripod - Jesse's backside.  We wanted a picture of the three of us, but the horses wouldn't leave the camera alone when it was sitting on the hitch rail, so GD set it on Jesse, told her to stand still and she stayed motionless until it was removed.  The timer was set and ...
Success!
The Park is doing a lot of repair work on their roads this summer, making some of the favorite spots less accessible ... and our trails more popular, so the Park installed an new latrine, just a few feet from the hitch rail.
I know a few people who would have been much happier with one of these on our HCR ride a couple years ago.  GD even gave up some of her precious toilet paper to a mom and kids that passed by while we were eating near the horses.
A clap of thunder just before we arrived at our spot made us decide to go down the Wild Basin trail to avoid doubling back right into the storm.  We had just started out when we saw more damage from last winter's wind storms.
Jesse's ears say it all:  "Would you look at that tree?!"  It had been uprooted higher up the slope and slid down to the trail.  The Mustangs were certainly being tested on their 'sensitivity' on this trip.
Since Beel is in the picture, I suppose we should mention that he and Ranger tagged along, too.  Bill is already getting set for hunting season with his florescent orange stirrups.
This was the real surprise of the day; running into a couple of 'boulderers' with their drop pads strapped to their backs.  In our 15 years of riding these trails, this is probably the most surprised we have seen our horses of 'creatures on the trail'.  As you can see, Washoe is already well off the trail.  Ranger was off in the trees on the opposite side, where Bill felt a little safer from his future reaction.  Jesse was trying to decide, but she finally 'braved-up' and sidled past them when I asked her to "touch" the scary objects.  I think the guys were more fearful that she actually would try to touch them, so I was happy to just let her slide by with a soft snort.

See what Ranger puts up with?  I think Bill was celebrating not getting unloaded by the monsters, and played cowboy going down the stairs.
We finally got to the river and I was very pleased to see my horse who used to be very afraid of water, step right in like a pro - although he was in for a surprise later.
You see how much deeper the water gets for the second half of the stream; Ranger plods along enjoying the water.  Poor Washoe didn't like getting the whole bottom half of his tail wet, and he spent several minutes after getting out slinging his tail around and getting water all over us!
We figured that was about the last of the excitement and the horses were quietly walking along the final part of the trail.  I'm sure Jesse was half asleep when she caught sight of this....
a tree stump cut off in the middle of the trail and cross-hatched so it wouldn't grow back.  I can't tell you how many times she has seen/stepped over these things, but this one sent her skittering backwards.  At least she had the good grace to act somewhat embarrassed ... once she finished waking up!

All in all, it was a super day, with lots of unexpected surprises - especially the weather and perfect temps!  I hope you all can enjoy some end of summer times before this short season ends.
Bionic Cowgirl

Sunday, August 12, 2012

FOOT!

B-  Hey Ranger.  Your front feet are getting kinda long.  Let's give you a quick file job.

R-  Okay, Beel.


B-  Foot.   (file-scrape-file-scrape-file)  Down. (foot drops)
B-  Foot.   (file-scrape-file-scrape-file)  Down. (foot drops)

B-  Alrighty then buddy, that's a little better.  Let's get a nice "mustang roll" filed on the front of these two and call it good.  Put your foot up here on this stump.

R- Okay Beel.

B-   Foot.  (move stump under foot)  Down.  (file-buff-file)
B-   Foot.  (move stump from under foot)  Down.  Good.

B-  Now, let's get the other one.

R-   No.

B-   Foot.

R-   No.

B-   Ranger, pay attention.  I said "Foot".

R-   Beel, pay attention. I sayed "No".

B-   Come on buddy,  we're almost done.  Foot.

R-   No.

B-  What's wrong with you horse?  You were perfect with the other foot, and now you're being a turd.  PUT YOUR FOOT ON THE STUMP!

R-  No.  I have tried it and did not like it.  It felt funny.

B-  FFFFFFFOOOOOOOOT!  I said FOOT.

R-   No.

B-   (grunt) You...have...your...whole...weight...on...that...one...foot!  (huff) How...can...you...DO...that? (puff)


B-   FOOT!

R-   Nope.   Will not do it.

B-   I WILL BEAT YOU!

R-   Waneeta has her camera.

B-   Jerk.
B-   Okay, no stump.  I'll just hold it up and work on it.

R-   Okay.

B-   Foot.   (file-buff-file-slip-cuss-file-cuss-slip-buff)  Down.

R-   (nose fist bump)  Say Beel,  you are blooding.

B-   It's a new, and very good file you jerk.  I'm not sure that finger has any prints left on it.

R-   You blodded on your forehead, Beel.

B-   I'll be right back you moron.
(wash-wash-tape-bandage-tape)
B-   Okay, let's get you home.

R-   Feels good Beel.  Can we go for a ride on the next day?

B-   Sounds good to me buddy.  Eat your dinner and I'll see you tomorrow.






Wednesday, August 8, 2012

...The Rest of the Story

Yesterday morning Bill and I heard Ranger start yelling from our pen.  Thoughts going through my head included:
What's his problem; it's nowhere near their breakfast time.

I just checked the creek and it's still running, so he doesn't need water.

Is someone loose (meaning the livery horses)?

As I came down the stairs from our room, Bill came racing in the door, "There's an extra brown horse in our pen and I can't find the grays!"  We both grab halters, tell our guests we'll be right back, and charge out the door.  Sure enough, there is not one, but two extra horses standing side-by-side in the middle of our pen; a newer-to-the-neighborhood sorrel and a big Belgian by the name of Swoosh - and the gate rails are down.  Ranger is close to the gate, yelling bloody murder "'cause you NEVER go through a gate without a two-legged - that's the rule!"  Estes is standing in one corner eyeing the activity with wonder - and two wranglers are walking our direction with my two grays in tow.  They had apparently caused a bit of a skirmish in the livery's corral.  Hmmmm?!

After giving this some thought, (and some more inquiry into events leading up to this) we think we have a good guess at what happened.   One of the livery horses, a very large red mare (Raja) has had a bit of a crush on Prince Washoe, hanging out at our gate with her head on the top rail (found out she's in season) and mooning at him constantly.  Sometimes he buddies up with her, sometimes he chases her away.  She must have been at the gate between our pens during their morning roundup and the gate bars got shuffled off, so Washoe left with her to go to her pen.

Now, Washoe never learned good horse manners as a colt, so his first inclination is to go into a herd kicking and biting.  Jesse and Ranger have always 'protected' him by moving him away from other horses and staying between him and the rest; not that they particularly like him, but he is part of their herd family.  So, since Ranger wouldn't go through the gate, he started yelling.  Jesse, on the other hand, went along with the Kid, and was found in the middle of a herd of 25, keeping everyone away from Washoe.  The wranglers were laughing, saying none of the other horses was going near the two whirling dervishes.  I found several muddy hoofprints on Washoe, which leads me to believe he did his normal entrance (no damage caused, though) and only one on Jesse.  You would think that boy would learn!  Soon all critters were back in their proper pens and we were able to go back to cook breakfast.
Bionic Cowgirl

A Friend


Today, Juanita and I went to the memorial service of a friend we have known for many years.  He had passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack.  Ken and his wife had been part of our lives and loves for about 25 years, and as friendships sometimes go, we still FELT close, even though we were seeing each other maybe one or two times a year.

When his friends and family went up to say a few words, they spoke for everyone who knew the man.

Caring.

Giving.

Strong in his faith.

Loving.

Thoughtful.

A good friend.


It was the type of service that makes one take stock of one's own life.  What will people say about me when I pass?  Not that I expect to die.  I haven't so far...

What would I hope people say at my service?

Loved his friends and family.

Strong, even if quiet in his faith.

Enjoyed his time with animals, and seemed to have a way with at least SOME of them.

Enjoyed talking to people and learning their stories.

Enjoyed making people laugh.

But what I most hope someone says at my funeral...

Look!  He moved!

Bill
(We miss you Ken)

They Should Not Do That

This is Ranger.  The horse.

In the still dark, one of the bone head neighbors knocked the rails down in the big gate.  The Kid and That Mare WENT OUT into the NEIGHBORS YARD.

Then two of the neighbor horses came into MY yard.

I screamed and screamed.  Finally Beel and Waneeta came out and moved the strangers out of my pen, and the neighbor peoples brought the white horses home.

Beel patted me and telled me I was a good boy, but he did not kick or bite the white horses.  I stared at him as he walked away, and he did not even pin his ears back at them (any more than usual, anyway).






I guess I will have to kick the white ones later.

Beel is such a slacker.

Ranger

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I Know What I Want

This is Ranger.  The horse.

Today That Mare and I took Beel and Waneeta out for a picnic. 

Finally.

It has been many days and darks since we have gone out on a picnic, and I was ready.

We got to my favorite picnic place and Beel dropped my head rope.  "You choose, buddy." he sayed.  I take my job very seriously.  So I went in through the little trees back to the GOOD grass.  Then I circled a little bush twice, stopped and telled Beel, "Here".  It was a very good place.  Good grass and water nearby. 

"This would be fine, Ranger.  Except there is NO WAY I can tie you to this weed.  How about this tree next to it?"

That was a good place , too.  So we went there.  Beel tied my head to the tree, and I began eating the good grass.  Waneeta tied That Mare's head to a tree, too.

Now, That Mare is a mare.  And that means she is a female.  And sometimes she changes her mind.  A lot.  For no reason I can understand.

For an example, we were eating good grass, in a good place, with good water and sun and shade.  But when some of the neighbor horses from the livery back in town went down the trail on the other side of the river, That Mare had a fit and pulled her head rope off the tree and started to run away.  She got half way to the other horses before her brain turned back on and she stopped to eat the good grass.

Waneeta caught her and tied her head to the tree again.  Then Waneeta went back to her and Beel's people picnic.

That Mare went to eating the good grass again.  Sometimes she turns in circles while she eats.  She goes one way, and then she goes the other way and finally she gets stuck in her rope.  Mostly she stands there until she thinks of a way to get out of her problem.  Today her brain turned off and she started kicking the rope stuck on her back leg and her head and the tree. It did not help get it unstuck.  In fact it kind of hurt her a little.  Waneeta came and helped her AGAIN, and her brain turned back on. AGAIN.

When we were going home after the picnic, I telled Beel " Some of the time, I'm not sure that the females KNOW what they want."

Beel sayed "I wouldn't say that... I might THINK it real loud, but I would never actually say it."



Sounds safer to me, too.

Ranger