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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sardines and Rain

Managed to snag a bit of time today after lodge cleanup, so we grabbed all the horses and headed for  - PICNIC!  The horses love that word as much as we do.  As a training session, we figured Ranger could use a little more work of being ponied.  The last time he was a total drag (pun intended).
We opted to keep all the moving parts in the same order, since this was only our second session, so Bill rode Jesse and I had Washoe.  Washoe is good at ponying Jesse, but sometimes has issues with other horses; didn't want to complicate things for either of the boys by putting Ranger behind him.  When Ranger puts pressure on the lead rope, Jesse just 'shoulders into it' and pulls him along.  It's pretty easy for her; he's just a little guy.
He actually has a loose lead rope here.  Bill says he only leans on it about one third of the time now; big improvement over 'all the time'!
The trails are soooo lush right now; we have been getting multiple thunderstorms moving through every day; part of the reason it has been two weeks since I have been on one of my horses.  I was going totally stir-crazy, which made today's picnic an absolute MUST.
Hey, where did Ranger go?  Most of the time I couldn't even see him behind Jesse.  She enjoyed 'working' today.
It was a good day for a nice, long drink in the creek.
There's the neighbors.  We intersected a trail that one of the Livery rides was taking.

We followed the creek for a ways, to one of our favorite picnic spots.  I think by now, the horses had figured out where we were heading.  Washoe had perked up considerably by this time.
Soon it turned into a real jungle.  When we turned into the area we wanted, we could barely get through, the trees and shrubs had gotten so tight and there was NO trail at all.  Too busy weaving and dodging to get pictures of that!

We secured the horses, plopped down on the ground and pulled out our fave:  sardines and crackers - and of course, granola bars to share with the horses.
W:  I would have some of that, Bill.
R:  Only one bite?  Are you sure you did not give The Kid too much?
J:  Is this my good side?  She looks strange to me with Bill's gear on her - and her gear on Washoe makes him look even more like her.
The grasses were waist deep on Bill; we couldn't even find our stumps to sit on.  We decided we'd best head for home, and sure enough, when we got up out of the trees, we saw the afternoon thunderstorm moving in.

We made it home and just had pulled the saddles when the rain hit.  Talk about timing!  What a great - although short - picnic ride.
Bionic Cowgirl

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Give-away :)

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a trail guide in our neck of the woods?

I know the Bionic Cowgirl and Beel have shared some great stories, but the fact is, we don't do much wranglin' any more.  We just fill in here and there as needed at the livery.  I started writing down some of my more memorable stories of trail rides several years ago and am publishing a book based on those stories.

Want a chance to win one of five advance copies of the book?  Just enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 26, 2013

I'm Ready for a New Line of Work

 I have decided to get into the horse trading business.  Below is my first draft of a letter to potential customers.


Dear sir or madam,

Greetings of the day to you.

  I am very pleased for being able to present you with the opportunity to be acquiring a horse of great value and rarity.  This horse of which I am telling you is a "Registered Grade Horse".  To acquaint yourself with the very stringent requirements of the registry, please take your computer to

This horse easily meets total requirements of the registry, and this animal is now know as gelding, it is the last of its bloodline, assuring its value and rarity will increase over time.

I will make this animal yours for the sum of 45,000 USD and have it awaiting your arrival when you get off of your slow boat.  Please wire me the funds, and make available to me the name and account number of your bank, so that I may be sending you any excess funds after shipping.

With only the respect due-

Mister Bill Martin, owner of Ranger, the Wonder Horse


I used as many of the highly effective sales techniques as I could that I have seen lately in the letters I get.

Tell me if you think it'll work.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hoof-in' It ... or Foot-in' It Would be More Appropriate

Today I spent a very pleasant day on the mountain – only not in the normal way, nor on the normal mountain. We have a hiking group that stays with us two days a week, two weeks in a row in the summer. One of the guides stays here with us for the whole two weeks. We are talking professional guides for a professional business: New England Hiking Holidays. We sort of inherited the group when we bought the lodge, as they have been coming here many more years than we have been here. It was a very pleasant surprise and we have thoroughly enjoyed the relationship. The company sets up tours all over the US and some international ones, too. The Colorado tours are located here in Rocky Mt. National Park. Early on, we would hike as many of the trips with them as we could, as a good way to learn the trails in the park. Then we got busier, got into horses, and got very lax on the ‘hiking’ idea. I mean, we have four feet to happily carry us around the trails now!

This year I realized we had not used the “foot paths” at the north end of the Park for over 10 years, so I made a proclamation that I would do one hike a week with the group. Today, we did the Ute Trail; one I had avoided because I don’t normally choose wide open, windy, desolate trails if given a chance to hike in lush forest. Vowing to do better, I put on a smile and headed off to meet the group in Estes Park.

The day was perfect for this kind of hike; we were above treeline, just shy of the Continental Divide. Although it was sunny and 60* when I left the lodge, it was much colder at altitude. At first, I worried that the wind-breaker I was wearing would not be warm enough, and cursing the fact that I had taken my ear band out of the pocket before leaving this morning – as I see a couple of the other hikers donning stocking caps and gloves. Then I reminded myself that I had some major advantages over these hikers, such as being acclimated to the altitude, and used to being outside a lot in cooler weather.
The beginning of the Ute Trail.  One of the guides speaking with a hiker.
Soon we were trucking along with all of us latched onto our hat straps to keep them from blowing off our heads; it is ALWAYS windy above treeline. The biggest problem I had was picking my feet up enough to not trip over a very rocky trail. Any ‘hiking’ I do is done in my riding boots; you know, smooth leather or rubber soles (depending on boot), not hiking boots with thick rubber soles and LOTS of tread/grip! I also find my depth perception is skewed whenever I am wearing sunglasses, so between that and the boots, I looked like quite a klutz in the beginning.
Another guide and a couple of the hikers.  The tundra is covered in very short, cushion type plants that are very fragile.  It's important to stay on the trail, or jump from rock to rock.

We hiked along the Tombstone Ridge, on the tundra on the Ute Trail, for about 2.5 miles, to a rocky overlook.

We got to hop-scotch across all these rocks over to those two points, to look down on the fire area.  The tall, flat peak on the left (behind the points) is Long's Peak, our only 14-er at this end of the state.
 Last Fall we had a fire in the park in the Fern Lake region that extended quite a ways north. On the overlook, we were directly above where the fire ended. What an amazing sight, seeing the type of terrain it burned through, and how it seemed to have stopped right at the line of ‘healthy’ trees. It burned out all the beetle-killed trees and a lot of new growth has already started. Aspen roots don’t usually get killed in a fire, so as soon as weather permits, sprouts shoot up and start defending the pine seeds that now are popped open and can re-seed themselves. One of our guides that hiked down along the burn area a couple of days ago, said some of the aspen shoots were already close to 18 in. tall!
Wherever there is a spot protected from the wind, flowers grow.  These are our state flower, the Columbine.  I had never seen pure white ones before.  The purple ones are considered the natural state.

After leaving the Ute Trail, we continued along Trail Ridge road to the highest point, and then hiked a ½ mile trail to the top of more rocks, where a large, young bull elk lay about 30 ft. off the trail, posing for pictures. I thought to myself that this must be a right-of-passage to adulthood for these young bulls; they need to spend so many hours being the ‘local attraction’.
This is the Mushroom Rock formation at the top of the trail.

We had a wonderful lunched, served picnic style - or really, tailgate style - out of the back of the van, courtesy of our guides, while located at a pull-over near the top of the ridge. After lunch we drove further up the road to a lava cliff created from ash blown over from a volcano on the other side of the divide, many centuries ago. On our way down, we were also treated to a sighting of seven or eight Bighorn Sheep, with their curly horns, grazing on the slope next to the road. Slightly further we spotted three massive bull elk, preening for the public.

After reaching the bottom of the road, we spent some time at the Alluvial Fan, created by the Lawn Lake flood back in 1982. A dam broke and carried huge boulders down the mountain side, creating the Fall River Falls and this fanlike layout of all the rocks. It is now such a beautiful sight, coming from a catastrophe. Mother Nature at her best. It was especially fun for me, as our youngest son got married there a year ago, and renewed their vows there this last June.

What a day. I guess I need to get out on foot more often.
Bionic Cowgirl

Friday, July 19, 2013

Birthday Ride With the Girl Kid

B-  Hay ya Ranger!  how's my old horse doing?

R-  Fine Beel.

B-  How are you feeling after our birthday ride with my daughter yesterday?

R-  I did not ride Beel.

B-  Well, no. I guess not.  But how are you feeling today, anyway?

R- Fine Beel.  Hungry.

B- Well, we did spend almost 5 hours on the trail yesterday. Lots of different weather conditions and trail conditions.  It started off sunny...
Then it went to rain.

Then it got cool

Then it rained a little again.

R- The trail went up a lot in places Beel. We the horses were glad you the peoples getted off to walk.
R-  Very up.

R-  There were rocks in the trail Beel.
Lots of rocks.

B-  A big storm seemed to be brewing to the north.

B-  At this point we decided to turn right at the next junction to dodge the storm,
and we went to a little mountain lake.

R-  Picnics are good.

B- And the trail leading away from the lake looked kinda cool!

R-  The kid was picnicking all day.  He was bad.  Your girl kid taked the food from him a lot.

R-  The kid finally stopped eating when we got on the black-hard-car-road.  Your girl kid was very happy.  She may be crazy.

R-  We the horses were not scared on the black-hard-car-road.

B-  Maybe not scared of the cars, but the guard-rail sure spooked you.  And when things make you jump, you have to touch them, don't you Ranger.
B-  Except this time you hammered me in the back instead.
B-  You almost knocked me over the rail, you turd!

R-  I tried to touch the scary rail but you standed in the way.

B-  The rest of the ride went fine, though.  Got home just as it started raining HARD.

B-  After we were home for a little while, I heard a commotion across the street at the livery.  One of their horses slammed it's head into the side of the trailer while stepping out, and impaled it's sinuses on a small slotted hook on the wall.  Blood everywhere.  Looks like she is going to be okay, but you never looked up from the feeder, Ranger.  And you flip out every time something goes wrong with those horses, like some of them getting out.  Why didn't the blood bug you any?

R-  I am only unhappy when they break the rules.  There is no rule against blooding.

B-  That's right, I had an old veterinarian tell me once while working on an injured horse that "A horse is born pre-destined to die at a certain time and place, and they spend their whole lives LOOKING FOR IT!"

R-  You are crazy Beel.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Happy Birthday, GunDiva

Well, since we have tried all day - unsuccessfully - to catch up with our eldest child, we will just have to do this publicly.
Since she considers herself all grown up now (and so do we), I won't announce her age, but suffice it to say, I never really believed our children would ever reach these plateaus, because in reality, it only means we are also getting older - and that can't happen.  So, babe, this is it.  You are not allowed to get older; just keep being the wonderful human being you have grown into.  I not only love you; I STILL like you!

Hope you have been having a happy day ... and Bill is so looking forward to your birthday ride tomorrow.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hoof Art

My computer died a couple years ago.  No great loss, except for the lost pictures, so I pulled the hard drive and this week I started pulling the photos off.

I had forgotten about these...

I call this series "Hoof Art"

You may have to chant the name while looking at the pictures.

 Sometimes I channel my inner 10 year old.  Sorry.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Free at Last!

This morning a little after 5:00, a commotion outside woke me up.

Crud.  Horses loose on the road.  All 40 or 50 livery horses were out.  Only the 2nd time this year for an escape (and one of those times only 4 or 5 got out).  Last year by July 9th, the herd had gotten out for the 4th time.

The wranglers and I put on a show for our early riser guests and got them all rounded up and back home.  Leaping in front of a running herd, waving your hat and making a loud PSSSSSSSH'ing sound will either turn the herd, or get you killed.

The herd turned.

Our little herd was still pretty riled up.  The greys, Jesse and Washoe had been running/bucking/f@rting the whole time the others were out.  Didn't see Ranger, though.

B  Hey buddy! Where are you?

I mm em hr  Beel.

B What's that, Ranger? I can barely hear you.  Where you be?

R    I amm in the scary shed Beel.

B  Oh, there you are Buddy!  Why are you hiding in the shed?

R  There was too much excitement Beel.  All of the neighbor horses were breaking the rules.  That Mare and The Kid were running around being crazy like dogs.  It is safer in here.

B  It's safe now, Ranger.  Come on out.

R  Okay Beel.  Can we eat now?

They got a snack.

We talked with the guests at breakfast and one of them told us "Where I come from, we NEVER get awakened by a stampede."

Sad.  So sad.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Down and Dirty

Three or four days ago I was leading one of our horses by the livery across the street, when suddenly a young, good looking dun gelding ran up to me and my horse and said " Hey 'ya guys!  What's up?"

There was nobody near this horse.  He was just wandering around sightseeing, I guess.  I dropped the other end of my lead rope around his neck and took him back to the livery pen.  A top rail of the cross buck fence had been knocked to the ground.  Turns out that the dun, "August" (Auggie) was new to the livery and didn't play well with others, so the remuda (working herd) was beating the sap out of him.  He left.

Auggie spent the night alone in one of our pens that night so he would stay home.  The next day, the folks in the livery started seeing how he behaved under saddle.  "Poorly" was the verdict.  He had been saddle broke as a 4 year old, but then lived as a somewhat pampered pasture pet for the next couple of years and found himself in charge.  Didn't seem to have a mean bone in his body, but wasn't about to pay any attention to what the people had to say to him. "Look! A squirrel!" was about the best you could hope for from him.  Not too safe with a thousand pound animal.

The next day, I was heading out to check on our horses, when I saw the whole staff of wranglers across the street lying down in the round pen.  Then I realized they were lying down on the horse.

The technique is call "laying a horse down".  And that's what you do.  Tie up one leg, lay the horse down, and sit on it until it relaxes.  It can be easy.  It can be hard.  Depends on the horse.  When the horse "gives it up" easily, it is quick, effective and painless for all involved and the horse realizes that people are in charge.  They may have you do strange things, but everything works out okay.  If the horse does not give it up easily, it can be a particularly counter-productive event.  Because the horse realizes he is in charge.


I have never been a big fan of this technique, because the horses that need it the most, are the ones most likely to win.

Seeing this "dog pile" of 4 young ladies and one guy in the round pen, I trotted over to add my weight to Auggie's head.

The horse lay quietly for a minute or so and then seemed to realize "Hey!  I weigh more than all of these fools put together!"

VIOLENT KICKING THRASHING PAWING ROLLING TWISTING KICKING for a minute or a thousand, and suddenly the horse was standing quietly, looking down at all of us. 

(Me kicked in knee, wrangler has glasses driven into nose. Much blood.)

"Hi guys!  Look! A squirrel!" says the horse.


 Again the leg up.  Again the dog pile. VIOLENT KICKING THRASHING PAWING ROLLING TWISTING KICKING. Again the horse wins.

(Me kicked in head, another wrangler with partial dislocate of shoulder, no blood)

"I think I'll stand up a while!" says the horse.

Double damn.  THE HORSE CAN NOT WIN.

Another neighbor shows up.


(I'm okay this time, but 3 chipped teeth on another wrangler and neighbor has a flatter foot)

 "Hi Guys!  That was fun!  When's dinner?" says the horse.

Horse down, head TIED to front feet. Six people, (six injured, PI$$ED people) sitting on the horse.  Horse struggles, but stays down.  Horse struggles again, stays down. Horse tries yet AGAIN, stays down.

"Okay gang, I think we've got him.  Untie him and step off on three. "

"One, two, THREE!"

Horse just lays there.

"I think we've killed him"

"Nope, he's still breathing"

"His eyes are open"

"He's just not moving"

"Get up Auggie!"

"Let's roll him over"


"I don't think so, he's not doing ANYTHING"

"Okay, roll him on three"

"One, two, three and OVER!"

"He's still breathing..."

Okay, finally the horse gets up.  The very subdued horse gets up.

"Umm... what can I do for you?" askes Auggie.

So, the last couple of days August the horse has been working, taking out rides, and behaving with the other horses in the herd.  Still bright eyed and bushy tailed, but more focused on the people than the squirrels.

But the rest of us are somewhat beat up and not working quite so well.

I think I'll just sit and watch the squirrels.


Thursday, July 4, 2013


4th of July - parade day.  A couple neighbor girls helped me by catching up the grays while I filled a bucket of water to sponge them down.  I thought it was taking longer than needed, so I walked across to the corral and realized they didn't know how to open the panels to get the horses to the gates.  We don't usually have the panels attached, but we had a neighbor horse in one of the pens yesterday and had to secure the panels.  I opened the gates as I went through our pen system, opened the panel for them, then followed them back to the lodge.  We got the horses all cleaned up and parade ready.  After the parade, as we were walking the two grays back, I noticed Ranger (the Horse) standing on the other side of the panels, watching us.  Then I realized, that both gates were standing wide open - and so was the panel I had unhooked!!  After I had walked into the first pen, Ranger came walking through the panel and met me at the second gate.  He had stayed in the pen all by himself, with all the gates wide open, during the whole parade!  He gave me his 'look':  you don't go through a gate without your human.  I hugged him and walked home shaking my head to tell Bill what a wonderful horse he owned.

I want to send out a heartfelt "Thanks" to all those who sent condolences for the loss of Estes.  She was a very special lady and we spent today as a sort of memorial to her.  I did not want to ride in the 4th of July parade today, as it was something special that GunDiva and I did together every year; you know, a mother-daughter-and-their-horses sort of thing.  Then granddaughter Autobot asked to ride my other horse in the parade and things progressed from there.  Autobot created a banner for the back of the truck in Estes' stead; we cleaned up the two grays, letting Washoe wear Estes' red, white, and blue saddle pad.  GunDiva's daughter, Ashee, bugged GunDiva until she relented to come up and then Ashee painted a heart and Estes' brand on the hip of both grays.  It turned out to be a very therapeutic happening for me, although as I rode Jesse behind the truck, looking at that banner, I had to keep reminding myself to not cry in the parade.  Now that it's all over, I sort of feel like I had some closure with a tribute to the Queen, Estes.  Thank you all - and yes, we have many years of happy memories to sustain us until we meet again.

Bionic Cowgirl

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Passing of a Lady

It's a sad day for the herd here at the lodge.  Our daughter's horse, Estes (aka "That Other Mare" to Ranger) has passed away.  She was 26 (and still looked like a teenager).

Estes didn't believe in trails; cross-country was the way to go.  One of my favorite pictures of her, taken at the pond last fall.

After a short, but extremely painful bout with colic, the decision was made to end her suffering.

She will be missed by her herd, and her people.
The Queen Estes with her 'crown'.  Love you, Estee.  Bionic Cowgirl
Be at peace, Estes the horse.