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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Raising the Limit

J - Really Alloy?  Another walk-about?  Must keep you from getting bored!
The snow across this back yard is 3 feet deep, but it did not stop his dinner time journey.
B - I have an idea.  We'll make the fence look higher.  It is only about 18" tall right here.

So adding boards to the top of the buck fence and adding two rows of rope ... well, we can only hope.  But for good measure, Alloy has lost his rights to freedom at night.  We spent lots of energy and a good deal of time literally carving him a slot in his pen.
His feeder next to a 5 foot stack of hay.
His heated water tank in the corner, with a path carved around his very own 5 foot pile of snow.
Yep, the water tank is on the other side of the snow pile.  He has to walk in one side and out the other.  Maybe he should learn to appreciate the time he gets to spend in the larger pen with company!
This is where he gets to spend the night time for now.  He gets put in at dusk; out at dawn.  It's working for now.
While we are working?  He's napping in the sunshine.  He seems to have put on a touch of weight and hair.  Not a sign of cold or shivering from him since we brought him home.  We could not have hoped for as much.  Ranger and Jesse have taken to him; Washoe ... not so much, which is part of the reason he goes walk-about.
Bionic Cowgirl

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Coming To Terms

B-  Hey Ranger! How's the old horse doing?

R-  I am good today Beel.

B-  Wonderful!  You are talking to me again.  You've been giving me the cold shoulder for the last few days.  I walk up to talk and you walk away.  Hey!  Where are you going?

R-  I forgotted.  I am going away now.

B-  Come on buddy, let's talk about this.  It's about the new horse, Alloy, isn't it?


B-  Aw, for crying out loud.  He'll never replace you.  You are the horse.  How about a nice head scratch?

R-  That has good feels Beel.  More would be more good.

B-  Okay pal.  Just for you.  (Scratch) So how is Alloy doing hanging out with y'all?  Is he behaving?

R-  He is not very bad.  But he eats my food.  We will run out.  There is always just barely enough.

B-  (Scratch scratch)  Trust me my fuzzy friend, we'll put in more food so you all get enough.(Scratch scratch)  Alloy won't eat it all.

R-  Al-fred eats some and that is too much.

B- Alloy.

R-  What ever.

B-  Any other problems with him or the other two horses?  (Scratch scratch)

R-  That Mare and The Kid do not want him to eat their food.  So sometimes they chase An-noy.

B-  Alloy.

R-  What ever.

B-  (Scratch)  Any other complaints?

R-  He is kind of jumpy when we try to bite him.  It is hard to bite Al-arm like he needs.

B-  Alloy.

R-  What ever.

B-  Other problems?  (Scratch)

R-  He does not follow the rules very good.  He runs away over the fence and down the road.  That is very bad.  I telled him "You should not do that Al-po".

B-  Alpo.   Funny you should call him that.

R-  What ever.

B-  (Scratch scratch)  Well, how about a quick ride around the corral bare-back, Ranger?

R-  Okay.  Say Beel.  Al-ong is following us around the yard.

B-  Alloy.  I think he's a little jealous.

R-  What ever.  I am not ever jell-loose.  Because you are my people.

B-  That's right.  Whatever you say, buddy.  What ever.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Dark and Stormy Night

A gentle snow was falling, the clouds obscuring the full moon.  The wind was blowing, howling at times, dead calm the next moment.  No problem, Juanita was out feeding the horses and I was inside the lodge getting ready to fix dinner.  I took a moment for a quick trip to the restroom and just as I closed the door Juanita hollered at me from the front door.

"Bill!  Get your boots on!"  I could hear the urgency in her voice.  "We have a horse gone."

"Which horse?"  I asked as I was putting on my insulated boots.  The look on her face explained what a stupid question that was.  "Oh.  Alloy." I said.

We had just spent some time introducing Alloy the mustang to the rest of our herd.  As we had 3 other mustangs that have pretty good manners when meeting new horses, Alloys introduction went very well.  We took the other horses back to their pen, and left Alloy in his.  We were going to spend a little more time the next day getting them all used to each other.

Alloy took offense.  He had a new herd now, and they were gone.  It was obviously up to him to go find them. 

He failed.

The deep snow had made the fence and gates less effective, so he squashed a gate and got out.

Juanita and I split up and followed his tracks around the nearby fields.  The snow was deep.  We had had almost 3 feet of snow with temperatures well below zero degrees F.  Then a day of rain, which crusted the layer of snow.  Then we had another foot or two of snow on top of that.  One would be shuffling along in knee deep snow, and then break through to crotch deep.  I MUST get my snow shoes repaired.

We spent 20 minutes following his looping tracks that finally lead out to the plowed road and off to parts unknown.  He had about an hour head start on us so I went back to start up the pickup truck.  It has 4 wheel drive which I figured would be a good thing.

As Juanita was following the hoof prints left on the skiff of snow on the road, a sheriff's car passed.  Juanita flagged him down with the halter she was carrying.  Sheriff's Deputy Dan rolled his window down and asked her "You looking for a horse?"  She said "Yes I am!"  He told her that he had gotten a call from one of the volunteer firemen in the area about a loose horse heading into Rocky Mountain National Park, a couple miles down the highway from us.  He had tracked it into an area that was too deep to drive through, so he came back to town, and saw her.  I drove up in the truck after he finished talking to Juanita and had headed down the hill and he told me the same tale.  I headed up the hill and picked Juanita up and we headed toward the Copeland Lake area where he had been spotted.

We kept getting out of the truck and following the tracks whenever Alloy left the road.  He would loop out through the deep snow, and then head back to the road.  What a jerk.  He finally decided to stick to the road.  Deputy Dan drove back toward us and said he had found a new set of foot prints on the road another mile or 2 to the north that hadn't been there last time he drove by.

I got really excited and turned the truck around on the narrow dirt road.  About half way turned around.  I'm not sure I've been THAT stuck since I was a teenager.  Deputy Dan drove back and pulled me out.  (Thanks Dan.  I owe you for that.)

We went another mile down the road and the hoof prints lead up someones drive and right by their front door.  But he didn't stop, he just went cross country again.  Jerk.  So I followed him on foot.  I've REALLY got to get those snowshoes fixed.

Alloy found another road after a million miles of cross country in deep snow and went up it.  WAY up the little dirt road. After a half mile or so, the tracks started looking fresh.  Soon the tracks were fresh, and left by a running horse.


He was probably only a hundred yards or so ahead of me, and running away.


I started talking softly and calmly.

"Alloy, come on back here.  Just stand where you are for a moment so I can catch you and take you to the rendering plant and feed all of the good dogs in Colorado with your useless carcass."

I rounded another curve on the road, and there he was.  Just standing there like a good boy.

Now you may have noticed that I have talked about Juanita having a halter, but not talked about me having one.  It was still in the truck.  With Juanita.  Miles from me.


So, I took off my belt, wrapped it around his neck (barely reaches) and started leading him back down the hill to the highway.  I met Deputy Dan about halfway back, and he drove off to meet Juanita and tell her where we were.  She brought a halter.

Now, our horse trailer had been snowed in, so the only way to get him home was to walk.


So I walked him home on the side of the highway, three and a half miles on the slick, ice glazed pavement of the highway.  Alloy and I walking, Juanita following in the truck, with Deputy Dan bringing up the rear.  Looks like we got us a convoy.  Alloy was behaving and leading perfectly.  He would only jump a little when a snowplow went by, or a truck with chains.

But evey time we passed a stretch of his footprints by the road, I would point to them and say to Alloy-


We got home, put Alloy in the horse trailer as a box stall to keep him warm, thanked Deputy Dan for his (over and above) help, and went to bed thinking "Tomorrow is another day."

Then I got to pee.



Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Introduction (picture & video heavy)

We arrived home with Alloy, the new member of our mustang herd, at 11:30 p.m. - after fighting 99 mph winds from the southern CO border - and then hitting ice coming up our own canyon.  20 miles going 20 mph in 4-wheel low.  We, for once, were very thankful we were pulling an old all-steel trailer.  Alloy traveled like a perfect gentleman for the whole trip, but you could tell he was just 'done with it' after the last section.

With the 18 in. of snow we had gotten at home after leaving, we knew we wouldn't be able to move him into his own pen, so plan B was to leave him in the trailer until morning and we could get a slot setup in a neighbor's barn temporarily.  So we took all the panels out of the trailer (a 3 horse slant load) turning it into a stock trailer - essentially a big box stall, got him some warm water to drink and left him munching on his hay net.
Less than enthused, but a good sport.
We had called ahead to have the front parking lot plowed so there would be a place to pull in that late.  It was a good thing.
We tried to dig into Al's pen, but gave it up.
We used some rope and poles laying around to make him an enclosure that was mostly wind proof and kept the snow off him.  It was about 22 degrees here and he had just come from California.
There is a really nice pipe corral connected to this stall and we left the gate open so he could claim it all.  He had a good time exploring the space.

Once he got the feel of it, he did a couple of rounds on the go.  Sure was pretty to watch.
We were only expecting the one good day of weather before another storm, so we decided that we would bring the other horses over for a meet-and-greet.  With this much snow on the ground, they couldn't get too rough with each other and it was a big space if they wanted to rough house.
To say it was anti-climatic is an understatement.  A formal hello from Ranger, a sniff from Washoe, and Jesse wouldn't leave my side.  All done.

Alloy was more interested in digging for grass in the snow.  I don't know how he knew there really was grass under that snow, from the warm weather we had before the storm hit, but he thought it would be better than the hay we had put in his stall.
Ranger  thinks Al doesn't know what snow is really for.

This is Ranger, Bill's 30 year old that will be teaching Al the ropes, so to speak.
Jesse and Washoe have a different way of enjoying the snow.

So, introducing Alloy ....

Bionic Cowgirl

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


One of the Colorado horse trainers that Juanita and I follow trains mustangs.  Her name is Jessica.  She has regularly placed in the top 10 in the "Extreme Mustang Makeover" series.  Raw mustangs are assigned randomly to the trainers, and they are then trained for about 3 months.  Then they are taken to a show with 20-40 other mustangs and put through their paces, so to speak.  After the show, prizes are awarded to the trainers and the horses are auctioned off.

Mustangs that have not been handled are auctioned off by the BLM starting at $125, and go up a little from there if the coloring/confirmation is unique or quite good.  The trained mustangs at the end of the Extreme Mustang Makeover tend to sell for $500-$10,000, depending on how they showed and how many people are bidding.

Now, I trained my old mustang Ranger.  Or more accurately he trained me.  Ranger is now about 30 years old and he is not very interested in rides of more than an hour or so, so I have started looking for a younger mount for longer rides.  I had pretty well decided I didn't want to start from the ground up on another horse, but I did want another mustang.  I think Juanita had gotten tired of only short trail rides, so for my birthday I was going to get a horse.

Jessica the trainer had a horse that caught my eye.  She called him "Alloy".  Short, just over 14 hands.  Plain, just a bay with no white socks or snips or blazes or nothing.  No "chrome" at all. But she felt he would make a very good trail horse.  I followed his training on Jessica's facebook page, and I was going to bid on him at the 2016 EMM show in Ft. Worth, Texas.  Unfortunately, he did pretty well in the show, and the bidding went out of my reach in just a few moments.


I went back to looking for a new trail horse prospect, with no success.


Then, in mid December, I got a call from Jessica.  It seemed that Alloy wasn't going to work out for the lady that bought him, and she asked if I was still interested.  I told her yes, but my cash in hand had stayed the same.  I could not pay more than my last failing bid.  "No problem" was the reply.




So, now we drive to San Diego with a horse trailer and pick up Alloy.  We spent a couple days visiting friends in southern Arizona before going to Alloy's new trainer's facility just north of San Diego to get Alloy.  We stayed with friends about a 20 minute drive from the trainer's place so we could spend a day working with Alloy.

It was in the mid 60's there in California, and we had temps of -15 degrees back home in Allenspark, so we practiced putting him in a plaid school-girl's dress and then loading him in the trailer, just in case we needed it.
He loaded up pretty well.  Better than Ranger, anyway.

So, off we go with Alloy in tow for another overnight stay in Arizona.  It took about 8 hours and then Alloy got to stay in the ranch's round pen from about 10:PM til 7:AM, and we were on the road again.

The trip from southern AZ to Allenspark usually takes about 14 hours counting rest stops for the horse.

Lunch stop at Blake's  LotaBurger.  Double green chili.  Heaven on earth.

 This trip took closer to 16 hours.  There were KILLER winds blowing from Pueblo, CO to Colorado Springs.  We saw 19 tractor/trailer rigs blown off the interstate and lying on their sides  Ninety nine MPH gusts had been reported.  Sometimes I feel bad about having a heavy, steel trailer making bad fuel mileage heading down the road.  Not this time.  The wind beat us up a little, but no real problems.  Then we reached snow and ice heading up the mountain to get home.  Twenty miles at 20 MPH.  We got home late, and just pulled the panels out of the trailer to make a nice box stall for Alloy to keep him out of the weather. 

He was from Colorado originally, so he didn't panic with the snow, but he didn't look thrilled...