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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fat and Happy

We just took a run over to Camp Dick to re-check a parking spot for our horse trailer for tomorrow's BIG ride. We are all so excited we can hardly stay put. We are going to cross Pony Pass, between Allenspark and Camp Dick. I am guessing it should take about six hours. Our guide has hiked this trail twice and will be riding one of my grays. We stopped by her shop today and all of her employees asked about the ride and said how excited she was - and why couldn't they go, too? Well, someone has to run the shop when the boss is out playing!

After checking out the route again, we went on up Hwy 72 to where the ranch horses are summer pastured. I guess I have to quit complaining about weight issues with Jesse. Every one of the five currently there make my mare look pretty svelt and trim. Blue-eyed Doc has turned into a real beauty and lover. He came right over when called and snuggled with Bill and I, both. Last time I was in an open pasture with him, almost two years ago, he was so full of testosterone he was trying to herd me away from the mares! He has since been gelded and turned into the sweetest young gentleman. Paint and Peanut are their normal, pudgy, happy selves. I think the other two were Cannon and Brownie. I'm not used to seeing Brownie fat and Cannon has Estes' distinguishing crescent-shaped star on his forehead, although you have to be near him to see it. He's a gorgeous bay color like his grandma, but a good 2 - 3 hands taller and built like his Percheron daddy. What a looker...and what a pleasant surprise to get to see and touch part of "our old herd". Just as we were leaving, they all took off at a gallop for back parts in the trees. It was like they had come down to the fence to wait for us, even though we didn't know we were going to visit them.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Twin Sisters Ride

One of the trails near us is Twin Sisters. The trailhead has been moved to a location across from Lily Lake, just south of Estes Park. We had not had a chance to try this trail, but on a day we could, surprisingly, take a longer ride we found ourselves parked at the trail parking. You have to ride ½ mile up the dirt road to get to the actual trailhead, then you step onto an exceptionally well groomed trail, almost like you would find in a park. This was no small challenge to form this trail on a very rocky and steep mountain. We were amazed that within the first ½ hour of travel we had traversed several sets of steps. Our goal in doing this ride was to condition our horses for a longer, tough, cross-country ride the following week. I had chosen to ride Washoe, as his feet seem to take rocky paths better, and Jesse was already in pretty good shape. I didn’t want to chance soring her feet for the trip. All three of our horses would be needed for the ride, as we were furnishing a horse for our guide.

The switchbacks kept getting tighter, the steps steeper and no space on the sides to step off for a break. It was obvious that no horses had been on this trail this year – or maybe even last year. Once we got to a higher elevation, we had some great views: all of Lily Lake, then the backside of Wind River Ranch and Aspen Lodge, with Long’s Peak looking down on them, finally the Long’s Peak Inn across the highway. Washoe said someone else was on the trail and pretty soon a couple of lady hikers came around the bend. (One of them thought we were a bear coming up the trail.) After chatting with them and figuring we had another hour of climb time to reach the top, we made the decision to just go a short way further, find one of the aspen groves they spoke of, have lunch so the horses could rest, and head down. Ranger had already said he was about done with the stair-thing – plus what you come up, you have to go down!

Great idea, but we never found any aspen groves, just a cool rock outcropping that Washoe said was just fine for lunch. We tied up the horses sort of off the trail and sat on a big rock for our picnic. On the way down, Washoe stopped to listen intently again (he’s learning to be a good lead horse). At the next clearing we could look down on the back of Aspen Lodge, where some sort of session was going on in the corral. We could almost hear the talking plain enough to make out what was being said. That’s how our clear, mountain air works! We continued down the trail – all those steps, again – and got back to the trailer just as the afternoon rain started. Talk about timing. Ranger could hardly wait to get into the trailer. I think he wasn’t taking any chances on having to go back up those steps. Got back to the Lodge just ahead of the rain and laughed heartily at the horses taking their celebratory roll in the corral.


Ride/Hike Sunday

Sunday afternoon, our normal “horse lesson” day, and grandkids were coming up. “Can one of them please have her horse lesson? The rest of us are going to hike”…or so we thought. By the time they arrived, one of the “hikers” had totally changed his mind and was pretty insistent he was riding! Problem: not enough horses. OK, they could share a horse; Jesse does well with double kids. Oops! Someone didn’t consider it riding unless he was steering. That sort of messes with the idea of “lesson time” for sister, although she was perfectly willing to share steering responsibilities. Mom steps in about this time and ends temper tantrum by enforcing the “hike” decision, so off we go, with one not-so-happy hiker. (“I hate, hate, hate hiking…with a capital H!”) We all ignore this statement and within five minutes the offended hiker has found a couple of sticks and is soon laughing and playing army man with his MK rifle.

Now, it was really fun watching Jesse watch this transition. While younger brother was upset, she was very watchful of where he was, sometimes beside her, sometimes in front, sometimes in back. As soon as he became engrossed in his new game, she totally relaxed and was not bothered in the least when he darted in front of her hooves to chase the enemy. She would hesitate with a foot in the air so he could get past without getting stepped on. We spent a good hour wandering around on the mountain, at the Clara Belle mine and across the meadow. On the way back he challenged Mom to a race up the last stretch of the trail. Sister, sitting on Jesse, was the goal. Watching these horses stand rock solid while people are running past, slapping hands and laughing makes you realize how great these Sunday afternoons are. Juanita

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another shamelessly stolen email

Got this one 5 or 6 years ago, I wish I knew who to credit...Bill

A letter from our horses...

When you are tense, let me teach you to relax.
When you are short tempered, let me teach you to be patient.
When you are short sighted, let me teach you to see.
When you are quick to react, let me teach you to be calm.
When you are angry, let me teach you to be serene.
When you feel superior, let me teach you to be respectful.
When you are self absorbed, let me teach you to think of greater things.
When you are arrogant, let me teach you humility.
When you are lonely, let me be your companion.
When you are tired, let me carry the load.
When you need to learn, let me teach you.

After all, I am your horse.


When you are tense, let me teach you that there are lions in them thar woods and we need to leave. NOW!
When you are short tempered, let me teach you to slog around the pasture for an hour before you can catch me.
When you are short sighted, let me teach you to figure out where, exactly, in the 40 acres I am hiding.
When you are quick to react, let me teach you that herbivores kick much faster & harder than omnivores.
When you are angry, let me teach you how well I can stand on my hind feet because I don't feel like cantering on my right lead today.
When you are worried, let me entertain you with my mystery lameness.
When you feel superior, let me teach you that, mostly, you are the maid service.
When you are self absorbed, let me teach you to PAY ATTENTION. Remember?
I told you about those lions in them thar woods?
When you are arrogant, let me teach you what 1200 lbs. Of "YAHOO LETS GO!" can do when suitably inspired.
When you are lonely, let me be your companion. Let's do lunch..
Also, breakfast, snack and dinner.
When you are tired, don't forget the 600 lbs. of grain that needs to be unloaded.
When you are feeling financially secure, let me teach you the meaning of "Veterinary Services".
When you want to learn, hang around, bud. I'll learn ya.

Your Horse

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hot Horses

Yesterday, Juanita asked me to take Jesses' temperature. As the temp needs to be taken rectally, and horses can KICK, I always approach the task with some trepidation. Jessie was a little concerned, but behaved herself (probably because Juanita was grooming her while standing on her other side). Temp was normal.

Taking Jessies' temperature reminded me of the first time Ranger had his temp taken. As a 15 year old mustang, there was a lot about life with people he still didn't "get". About 4 or 5 years ago in December, we found a tumor growing on his gums about where the "bit bar" would go. It grew to the size of a golf ball in less than 2 weeks time. I called our old local vet to check him out. Doc looked him over and decided he needed to go the vet hospital at CSU down in Ft. Collins because the tumor was growing so aggressively. We loaded Ranger into the trailer a day or two later and took him down to the vet hospital.

At the hospital, I took him into a large concrete floored barn space (a first for him) where by the wall he saw a horse skeleton display, just standing there. He was completely focused on the horse bones, and suddenly I saw his eyes bug out. I looked back and the Vet tech had just inserted a rectal thermometer. He never did look away from the "Dead Horse Standing".

Surgery was a success, and I was riding him (without a bit) just a few days later.

Looks rather like I was on a lady moose.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Short Bareback Ride

Tel and I went for a short bareback ride around the 8700 foot peak across the highway from the lodge. It's called "Cowbell Hill" (well, we start off at 8500 feet). Great fun and I remembered my camera!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wrangling Again

I got to play wrangler, again, today. I took one of our guests out for a two hour ride. She had rented a horse from the Livery across the road; a big Belgian named ChiChi. ChiChi doesn't look to be in the best of shape; a little older, maybe, and sway-backed, but she was good natured and as we got underway she seemed to perk up a little. She realized this wasn't her normal poke along trail ride with a kid aboard. She soon accepted me as leader, being on the horse in front.

I can't call Washoe a lead horse; he hasn't quite figured out all the nuances yet for that job, but he does a good job of being in the lead. You see, a good lead trail horse will set the proper pace to keep spaces from developing between the following horses, and with the flick of an ear they can keep them all in line and behaving - in other words, keeping law and order - all without much guidance from their rider. This way, the wrangler can spend their time keeping an eye on all the inexperienced riders, and spouting proverb about all the surroundings. I did get to point out the Sleeping Indian, the Clarabelle Mine and the frog pond near Olive Ridge. We rode through the Aspens along Fox Creek and out around the rock mound where we can sometimes see Rocky Mt. Big Horn Sheep (but not today, darn).

Well, Washoe had built up a lot of excess energy in the pen this week, so I had to keep a strong eye on HIM, but he really did a great job of trying to be good. He took the lead in front of a very large horse he didn't know and stuck to his manners. We did about 3 hrs. worth of travelling in our 2 hr. ride. My rider did a super job of guiding her mount and staying balanced in the saddle. Washoe earned his "treat" of being allowed to eat grass when we got home, because he did not eat on the trail. My rider said she could smell and feel Fall in the air.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ride - Turned 4-Wheelin'

We had planned another long ride today and decided we should scout out the territory first, to make sure we could get the rig parked somewhere – and back out. Pretty good decision. We took the truck, knowing the road would turn into a 4 – wheel drive road, just to see how far we could pull a trailer. When we got to the end of the “normal” road, there was a nice turn-around, so we continued up the 4 – wheeler path to locate the trailhead we remembered. It didn’t take long to become true 4 – wheelin’; shift to 4 wheel drive low. We found the trailhead we wanted and even scouted out another that we thought would make a great circuit, with a lake at the halfway point. Sure glad we didn’t have a trailer behind us! The F350 barely made some of the turns and because of the wheel base length barely cleared the rocks/ridges (no side-to-side maneuvering, trees brushing the truck). I don’t think we collected any CO mountain pin-striping, but it was close. One large, fallen tree in particular, was laying with its root base poking into the tracks, right at a sharp turn at the top of a steep section. Bill did a great job driving!

Found the upper trailhead, turned around and headed down. Bill tried turning the truck in the turn-around, only to find we were just too long to make it in one shot. With a trailer behind, we wouldn’t be able to turn around without jack-knifing the trailer. So…the only solution to riding this area in the near future will be to ride the horses over, like we did previously. The only downfall is it’s a two hour ride to get there cross-country, to ride a 1 ½ hour trail ride. We could ride along the highway quicker, then along a lot of gravel road, which is not fun for our horse’s unshod feet. I guess we will just have to do this trail later in the year when we can do much longer rides, but we still had a great time being out in the Forest.

P.S. – Still no camera with us…it was in Bill’s saddle bag, all ready to go!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Photo Opps (Oops?)

Last week I bought a nice shiny new bottom of the line digital camera to toss in my saddlebag. That way I will always have a camera with me on our rides.

Today, we went for a ride up to Calypso Cascades and had a picnic. The river was running very well for this time of year, and all of the falls along the whole ride looked amazing. We passed a group of hikers wearing "traditional Amish" garb, but the kids were wearing brightly colored "Crocks" on their feet. At the very end of the ride, we stopped to water the horses at the river crossing, and there were two deer drinking 20 feet away from some VERY surprised looking fly fisherman.

I've got to remember to put that damn camera INTO the saddlebag.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tackling Your Fear

It’s one of those blissfully cool days you occasionally get in the mountains in August and we sure wanted a ride! We hurried through our day’s chores; fortunately all our guests had headed out on their own adventures. We had about three hours until we had to be back for check-in. Wahoo! Grab the horses and let’s go picnic. I’m sure Ranger and Jesse felt the excitement; even Washoe tried to sneak through the gate and come with us.

We headed out on one of the back trails in Roosevelt National Forest. I decided to work on getting Jesse to lead out better. Last summer, she and Ranger had developed a pattern of switching places periodically (on their own) while we were out. It was like they spoke to each other; the one in front would just stop, step aside, and let the other pass and we would continue on. Now, it’s work for the horse in the lead. It’s their job to make sure the way is safe for the rest. We didn’t care if they switched places; it was good for each to take responsibility and let the other rest. We just didn’t want it to become a problem if we thought otherwise. This summer, it did seem to be becoming an issue. When Jesse decided to switch places, I said, “No,” and she balked. Big Time! Guess what this summer’s lessons have been on.

So we head out and I put Jesse in the lead. She has actually learned to enjoy this, as it means she can set a pace comfortable to her long stride instead of constantly having to wait on Ranger’s cute little dancing step. Her long, continuous stride is also very therapeutic for my hip, so I encourage her to use it. Now we get to listen to Ranger pitpat further and further back until he breaks into a little trot to catch up.

Things have been going so well, I think maybe we can handle a short lope. I quit any “fast” work with Jesse a couple of years ago, when we had saddle fit issues and it would start her crow-hopping. Then we spent a year learning bareback and I am not to the stage of riding anywhere at a lope bareback. Last fall, I took a spill and smashed my shoulder, so still no loping. Well, now there are no more excuses, except now Jesse thinks we aren’t allowed to do that. Getting brave, I think we should give it a try since we are out in front, so when we get to a nice, long level area where she can see a long distance, I ask for a lope. I had to ask three times; she was sure I was nuts. We don’t do that! Finally, she breaks into this nice, smooth lope, then starts to slow down, not sure it’s OK, yet. When I urge her on, she picks up the pace and then seems to settle into it all across the top of the meadow…where she throws in this little hop at the corner. It was like an exuberant, “Wow, did you see what we can do?!” She was pretty happy to lead the rest of the way home, a couple of times asking if we could pick up the pace.

I can hardly wait to ride again, so we can practice more “faster” work. It’s been my fear holding us back. You just don’t bounce as well at 60 as you did at 25. I think the injuries from my last fall left me with a fear I didn’t want to admit.

I've Heard They Said...

All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day. ~Author Unknown

Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground. ~Author Unknown

It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall. ~Mexican Proverb

The wagon rests in winter, the sleigh in summer, the horse never. ~Yiddish Proverb

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's Not the Roundup?

Had a helicopter fly over several times this evening, so each time I would go out and throw the herd some hay. The last passover, Ranger stood quietly munching and watched the chopper buzz us at about 100 feet. Then went back for another mouthful. Much better than he used to be. Calm, quiet and content instead of being a lunatic. Whew.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Birthday and Killer Pinecones

One of my missed blogs concerns the attack of the pinecones. One morning I got a call from one of our “adopted riders”, wondering if there was a possibility of a ride that day. Sure, the sun was out and Bill said there would be time for me to slip away for an hour before check-in, so I grab Washoe and Estes and get them saddled. Mary arrives with an explanation about a fall she has taken from her bicycle a couple of days earlier and how that has prevented her from doing her morning runs. She was going crazy from no outdoor physical activity and thought maybe she could handle sitting on a horse (her whole left side was pretty banged up). This was the first time she felt obliged to use the mounting block, but was quite grateful for it.

I gave her Estes, as Washoe was being a little feisty and I didn’t think she needed the extra effort necessary to control his “eating” habit. We did a nice loop around one of the back mountains and I asked her why she was so “fancied up” – she had makeup on – for a horseback ride! Her reply, “It’s my birthday and I have a dinner engagement tonight.” She thought a ride would put her in a more festive mood, and she got to see areas she had never seen before. As a special treat, I chose a trail that skirted the top of a ravine with a great view of the beaver ponds. I was happily chatting about the eagle soaring overhead when I hear, “Ouch!” I turned in my saddle to see a streak of blood running down her cheek. She hadn’t paid attention to the low slung Ponderosa pine branch hanging over the trail – or the heavy pinecones they have at this time of year. One of the pinecones had made a couple noticeable scratches across her cheek, drawing blood in a couple of places. What do you say when someone asks, “Did it leave a mark?” LOL I just told her she needed to make up a really cool story about the wild ride in the forest and the pinecone that attacked her!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

August Recipe: Mexican Eggs

Mexican Eggs 9"x13" glass pan, sprayed with PAM
Serves 12-15 400 degrees for 10 min.; 350 degrees for 35 min.

12 eggs, beaten
Beat together, then add to eggs:
4 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 c. cottage cheese
½ c. chopped green chilies (7 oz. can)

3 T. Country Crock, melted
4 T. Flour
1 t. baking powder
Add to eggs, mix well

Pour into glass pan. Bake until golden brown. Recipe can be halved and baked in
8” x 8” pan.