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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Skeeter's Fine Day

Bill and I set out with this plan of getting my horse Washoe 'legged up' for some upcoming tough rides.  We borrowed GunDiva's horse Skeeter, to be a companion horse on longer rides.  Neither Bill nor I ride alone in the national forest or park; not a good idea for a horse to come back sans rider and not be able to go find the missing party because you have people at the lodge, so our granddaughter, Autobot, serves as an extra rider.

In our last post, we had picked up the horse and transported her to our guest pen - which she now claims as her own.  The following day served as a day off for the horses so we could get the weekly 'town chores' done.

This brings us to Thursday and the plan was to just pony Skeeter around town so she could get used to the sights and sounds of mountain living.  We saddled up Ranger and Washoe and discovered Skeeter does NOT like standing patiently at the hitchrail when different stuff is happening, i.e., noisy trucks going by, bicycles, crazy people making strange noises, etc.  Welcome to our life, Skeeter.  She tried her hand (hooves) at taking down the rail, with no success.  Finally decided to just watch and check-it out.  Good horse.  Then we got hit with large raindrops which quickly turned to hail.

We waited out the storm and when everyone was calm, we took her lead rope and started out.  Hmmm.  Ponying is not a natural thing for this horse.  She had her own ideas of where she wanted to go and it certainly did NOT include being next to another horse.  We learned many things about ponying that day - long, slippery lead ropes are not the way to go.  The first time she yanked it out of Bill's hand before he could get a dally done; but to her favor, she didn't run off, just stopped to look at whatever took her interest.  OK, next time he was prepared and got her dallied but she almost pulled poor Ranger over.  He's just a little boy compared to her, so I took the rope as Washoe could compete with her size.  I got it dallied in time, but Washoe did not approve of her behavior and gave her a major stinkeye, which she did not even notice.

Rethinking this whole plan, we decided to back up to Skeeter's comfort level.  We dismounted and I walked the saddled horses back home - all of two blocks - then Bill led Skeeter around a couple blocks on foot.  She got a few nasty reprimands about who was to do the leading, but came back doing pretty well.

Friday,  I led Skeeter for a much longer walk through and about town, with a handy boundary stick and by the time we got back, she had figured out it was best to stay in the proper position. Then I hopped on Washoe and we walked and trotted the Ski Road loop just to loosen up.  I had planned on two times around, but that didn't pan out either.  By this time it was late evening and I was riding in a halter and short lead rope, so when Washoe was not in favor of another trip, we came home.

Saturday,  Autobot and I led Skeeter on a longer and different route through town; she only needed a couple pops on the lead rope as a reminder.  Much improved!  I sent Autobot out on Washoe for an hour and half ride - I thought.  They were back in minutes. "What's the matter?"  A:  "He won't go."  Me:  "You have long leather reins; insist."  A:  "I did but he only backs up."  Well....I think that Washoe has decided (in his teeny middle-aged brain) that if I didn't go, he didn't have to go.  I start walking down the road and sure enough, he follows along like a puppy on a string.  It's a nice day and he needs to learn to trust Autobot, as she will be riding him a lot this summer, so I just keep walking toward the Allenspark trail head.  Autobot rides part of the way, and leads him part of the way.  When we get to the trail head, I tell her to just keep leading him up the trail until she can find a place to mount him easily.  This time he followed her nicely and I sat at the trail head and waited for some hikers to get there.  Once mounted, Autobot rode back to us very nicely, then right on past.  She and Washoe came the 1.6 miles home on their own. (I can't blame my horse for this.  I am constantly putting some non-rider on him and walking them around town.  He just follows me and listens to voice commands, so it's not his fault.)

Sunday, we had thought we would try ponying Skeeter again, then decided maybe it would be easier for her to be ridden, since that was not 'new' to her.  Bill opted to be the trial monkey, so Washoe and Skeeter got saddled.  I had planned on going, but we had people we needed to wait for at the lodge, so I was to stay behind.

Bill took Skeeter to the small pen across the street to mount the first time.
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She's not used to being mounted from the ground, so it took a bit of persuasion.
We had a 'new bit to Skeeter' on her and wanted to see how she would respond; bits are not her favorite thing.  She took to it like a fish to water and walked around the pen on a soft rein.  So time to try going down the road.

Washoe was in the lead but that didn't last long.  Again, he said, "wrong person on me" and came home.  OK, fine.  I threw a back-soon sign on the door, grabbed Ranger out of the pen and hopped on bareback.

We took the lead with Skeeter next and Washoe behind.  We needed to keep Skeeter slowed down.  Again, she took to the ride like an old pro, mostly just looking around.

We had cars passing us on both sides, dogs barking from cars, even a runner with earphones on who would not slow down or even acknowledge us as he ran up from behind.  Skeeter only had one instance of belligerence; when one of the cars came up on us from behind and Bill asked her to move over to the side of the road, she didn't want to give up her spot.  That driver was nice and stopped to wait until Bill turned her around to see the car and she moved over.  Otherwise, she did really well paying attention to rein cues as well as she knew how.  She is young and only has a very few hours of ride time, and has never been out on dirt roads like these before, so we couldn't have asked for more.

We finally let her take the lead and she slowed down on her own and led out very nicely. It was fun watching her want to smell the different trees and watch everything - all so different to her.
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As we came around the final corner, there were llamas in the corral across the road.  I had noticed her staring at some earlier in the day, so I told Bill to watch her.  As they came around the front of a parked pickup, she saw the llamas, stared for a good two seconds, let out little snort and turned away to look at our old tractor in our own yard.  This horse is not a spook!  It was a very good day with Skeeter.
Bionic Cowgirl

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The New Foster Kid

Only this one has four legs.

Me:  "Hey, kid. How about loaning me one of your horses for awhile - like maybe a month?"

GunDiva:  "What?"

Me:  "I just realized I only have a couple weeks to get Washoe legged up for some long rides coming up, really soon.  Ranger has a one hour limit on our trails, so I really, really need a horse that can go out for 3 - 4 hours at a time.  Loan me Skeeter.  Please."

GD:  "Well, she does need a lot more wet saddle blankets and I am booked up with the Greeley Stampede for the next two weeks.  When can you get her?"

This conversation was a couple days ago.  Today, we picked up granddaughter Autobot and went to collect a horse.
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All three of us walked into the pen with a halter.  We got met by three horses.  Pearl was closest so I just put my arms around her neck and Autobot slid the halter on while Bill reached for Skeeter.

Oops.  Not happenin' pal!  And off the other two went.  We were not the right people to be holding their halters and they were taking exception to that.  They spent a whole lot of energy running around the pen/track; we spent the time standing in the middle, shuffling our feet a bit every now and then.  They did eventually give it up.  In 92 degree hot sun, you can get really tired.

And the others?  Well, Pearl got to graze on the grass outside the pen.

And since it was that hot, I didn't want to leave Washoe in the trailer. (We had brought him with us to keep Skeeter company for the ride back up the mountain - a new experience for her.)
OK, so maybe getting caught has its benefits.  The trailer loading went pretty well; only a couple of mis-attempts, but with Washoe standing in the front stall, a large open window with ... wait ... do I see Grandma cookies poking in that window?  A flop of the flag as a reminder and in Skeeter went.
Where are we?  This is all new.

Skeeter will be in the smaller 'visitor pen' for now.  She knows all our horses except Alloy, who she met through the fence with no dramatics at all.  She unloaded better than I have ever seen her do, so I think having Washoe as a traveling ambassador worked well.  She was calm and quiet, and waited for the backup command before trying to step off the trailer.
She now has her own water tank ... which she promptly ignored.

... and her own feed bin, complete with slow feed hay bag.
... and of course, Jesse had to come visit.
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After leaving them alone for an hour or so, Bill took a book and chair out to keep them company, but apparently Alloy is not used to that yet.  I guess only a couple pages got read, as Al kept poking and prodding at him for attention.

Stay posted.
Bionic Cowgirl

Monday, June 19, 2017

What Was Old Is New

Juanita and I have gotten a few.. odd... calls in the last few months.

"Oh, hi Bill.  You're still there?  We had read online the lodge had sold to new owners!"

"Hi.  We hear you are new owners and we were wondering if you needed our services."

And an assortment of strange calls of that sort.

We have owned the lodge since 1997.  Before the turn of the century.  We are at our 20th anniversary here.  We have owned the property longer than any other owner except for the builder.  He spent 34 or so years here, but he only lived here 3 months out of each year, so I think we have HIM beat, too.  The calls were leaving us sort of befuddled.

Yesterday I think I found the source of the confusion.  Google.  More specifically, Google reviews.

I used to watch reviews more closely.  Trip Advisor,  facebook, Yelp, Yahoo (remember them?) and Google.  But lately, not so much.  It had been probably 6 or 7 months since I had checked our reviews on Google, so I was surprised to find this review posted about 5 months ago:

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(Edit to previous review. I have now found that they have new owners that were GREAT over the phone. They have done work to the lodge to address issues that I and others had. They also seem to be owners that will really care about hospitality to get us regular customers back! I look forward to being able to again visit this beautiful lodge again to rate it 5 stars!)

Have been coming here for MANY yrs., multiple owners/changes.
Perfect stopping off place between Denver and Estes/Rocky National Park.

The Lodge 'building' is AMAZING is why the 2 stars. Built by hand with native logs/lumber after turn of century to 1930's. (history varies).

Gorgeous! The perfect 'look' for rustic Colorado tourism.

Allenspark has been known also for a very exclusive 4-5 star eatery that is a limo destination from Denver in an amazing huge old long cabin w/gardens, reservation only type place that has probably helped keep the lodge in biz. Also has cabin breakfast place that is organic/4-5 stars with locals.

My family has been here through several owners over time.

It used to be always worth the price for friendly owners and the beauty of the original place even though has many shared bathrooms, dated furniture, creaky floors, thin walls on many rooms/floors.

The last/current? owners were the worst ever of anyplace I have stayed from Hawaii to NY. Somebody mentioned like staying at parents house! Exactly! He used to be Highway Patrol cop is what I heard.

We are not young party people, 50's-60's, upper middle class. Did not like his strict attitude/demeanor we got on phone and stay. Got lectured on his rules and 'why' he said was charging so many times higher was because other owners were idiots.

Yet, when I had loud people keeping me up all night, he yelled at me for disturbing his peace in his private apartment to move us to other end of empty lodge/other floor.
We knew all the rooms/floors over so many stays, and were only even asking to go to even lesser priced room too just to get sleep from crying baby they even acknowledged others had complained about too, etc.!

I have psych. degree/counselor, and can tell you this guy is the WORST personality for a hospitality business. Very controlling. Intimidating.
As a cop, he needed for that profession, but not this profession!

Heard he even closed off one of the neatest features for guests! A huge tall cedar hot tub in back screened addition with gorgeous old granite stone floor, etc. Very romantic. One of best part of stay, no more :(

Would not recommend for light sleepers if it is full. Floors do creak, some walls thin. Getting the right room is important!
Not recommended for long stay, or taking a risk for honeymoon when it could go so bad from perfect looking property.

Wonderful property, just needs right owners/hosts.

We did not even care they raised the price by several times X 4 if they would have been making worthwhile.

Writing review since looking it up to bring friend to mountains for first time, and wants to stay in 'real' log cabin type place for one night on way to Estes.

Called several times, no answer. Finally found may be closed for renovations/new owner?

Hate to say it, but would keep driving to Estes Park and get cabin rental on river/creek for same price and quiet, nicer owners.. We will just make stop to show him the place!

Such a shame, so much potential for a right owner to know how to price to compete with Estes, give appropriate rates since not in Estes/Aspen, market it/price right for that/what it is.
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Huh?!? 
 Reading the review makes me think that he was talking about the previous owner, probably on a bad day. They lived in the Apartment (we use it as a rental and just keep a bedroom), they had a locked door after 9:pm to the bar/hot tub area (we removed the door), they allowed children (we don't allow kids under 14, because of the noise), I had heard he was a cop, and I had also heard he was a fireman (I was a computer technician).
That means that he was thinking about this for 20 years! That's not holding a grudge. That's cradling it, nursing it and raising it to adulthood. I wonder if a psych. degree'd counselor would have a diagnosis for that sort of behavior.
I really don't feel much like a "new owner" at this point, but it looks like that's who we are. 
It does explain the weird calls.

Bill