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 22, 2014

Miss Communication

R-  It is after time for night food Beel.

B-  I know Ranger.  But now that all of the neighbor herd is caught and back in their corral, we can feed y'all.

R-  Beel we all tried to tell you that the neighbor horses were out and eating my grass.  Before night food.  You did not listen.  That Mare kicked the food holder.  I yelled.  The Kid ran around like a crazy dog.

B-  I know buddy, but you always holler at dinner time, and Jesse usually kicks the feeder if we are too late at feeding you guys.  And Washoe is always running like a nut-case.  It didn't sound much different to us.

R-  I always say  HAY at dinner time.  This time I was saying HEY.  You must not listen very well if you can not hear the difference.

B-  Right you are, my equine friend.  I sometimes miss the subtle inflections in your incessant shrieking at dinner time.  I will try to listen to your caterwauling more closely.  Every night.  And every morning.  And every night...

R-  Good.  They were all out eating my grass.  I do not like that.

B-  Yeah, 30 or so horses will eat things down in a hurry.  But they were so well behaved, even when I saw them eating grass out of the window, it took a moment to realize something was wrong.  Then I suddenly understood what was happening and hollered for Juanita.  I think it scared our guests when I yelled and ran out the door with a halter in hand.

R-  It scares the neighbor horses when you drive the many van and jump out yelling at them.  I like that.  They stop eating my grass.

B-  Well, eat your dinner now Ranger.  They are all locked up for the night again.

R-  Good.  Now it is time for hay.  Not hey.  Listen better.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Started this post a couple of days ago - couldn't seem to get along with blogger.....

I finally did it.  For several years now I have played with idea of trying boots on my barefoot horses for  some of the 'ugly' trails we hit sometimes.  Our guys have beautiful feet which basically take no care.  I have a good barefoot farrier check them twice a year and he just sighs over them, tells me they have perfect feet and occasionally takes a file to get the niches out if I want to go to a clinic.  We live on hard rock and that keeps their feet toughened up - however they HATE gravel roads.  Those silly pieces of gravel are pokey, they say.  As soon as we leave the road and hit the trail, it is hard to keep up with them.  So why do I want boots?

I guess because I think it is a great training exercise.  I tried EasyBoot a few years ago and never did get one to fit right - and they were hard to put on.  This time I bought a pair of Cavallo Simple Boots.  They came yesterday, so today was the fun try-it-on day.  I was amazed at how easy it was to measure for them and even more amazed at how easily they went on!  Now, I am not doing endurance, so I can't speak to how they would do in that world, but I am anxious to try them on one of our trails.  Luckily, both my horses took the same size, so I bought a bright purple pair so I could find one if it did come off somewhere; that and nobody else around here would want my purple boot!
This is what they look like.  Bill took videos of each of the horses' first steps - almost like having a baby again - but blogger went haywire every time I  tried to upload them, so suffice it to say it was fun but uneventful.  Jesse, who knows how to track, was more interested in the 'tracks' they left behind.  Washoe walked with his head down by his feet, ears flattened out to the side, listening to the sound they made (the hard rubber is kind of noisy on pavement or hard packed ground).

Fast forward to today....
I wanted to get the horses used to the feel of the boots, so today we took each one around our 1.4 mile loop we use for warmups and practice.  It has some pavement, some nice smooth, hard packed dirt, and some gravel.  Good trial run.  Washoe was the first to come when called, so he got booted up and hopped on bareback.  He started a little hesitant, getting the feel of them when being turned around for mounting.
Once we got going, he decided the feel on the gravel driveway was OK.  Looking good.
Soon, we were on pavement, then on to the hard packed dirt.  He started moving out a little quicker and seemed to be 'looking' for rough spots to step on.  He is happy horse.  Here he is still listening, but also enjoying the comfort.  These boots are a great find for him.
Along the way, we practiced a little 'targeting' of our own, just for a refresher.  Washoe and Ranger passed with high marks, touching everything we asked of them.  I forgot to mention in my clicker comment for GunDiva, that after your horse learns his 'trick' well (whatever it may be), you no longer have to treat them.  A quick pat on the neck or a "good boy" works well.  That's the really neat part of clicker training; the 'treats' are only necessary during the actual training time and maybe a refresher once in a while.

When we got back, Ranger reached over and touched the ribbon on the sign all by himself, just before he decided it was safe to trim the grass at the bottom of the post.

While Ranger worked, I got Jesse booted up.  She didn't hesitate anywhere getting to the mounting block, then walked off like she had worn these things forever.  I thought we certainly had a winner.
She paid much more attention to the sound today.  For about a half mile, things were great; then she was done with the sound of them.  She would take a few steps, then stop and listen.  We were also in an area where I suspected a wild animal had been recently.  She was very much on alert at all the heavy grass and wooded areas - and obviously irritated at having to stop to listen.  She finally refused to move until Ranger got in front as a guard.  I tried her 'walk on' command and got a choppy trot; not acceptable.  We finally got a very SHORT running walk, but she obviously wasn't comfortable doing her gait in the boots.  About 3/4 of the way around the loop, she just flat quit walking and insisted I get off.  She kept turning her head around and touching my boot.  I got down and walked her a bit but finally mounted back up and she walked sedately home.  When I took the boots off, I found a rub spot on the heel bulb of her left front.  When I checked the boot, I found a 'stay' that must have been hitting her foot.  The boots just fit her a little differently than Washoe.  I guess she was trying to tell me that her foot hurt.

Well, at least Washoe can get some good use out of them.  I can try them on Jesse again if she acts gimpy, and work with the stay.  I will check their website for more info - and I need more practice getting them on in a good position.  Her hooves are a little flatter and wider than Washoe's, so the boots sit differently, even though they both measured out the same size.

Next step is getting Washoe on a real trail in them; that's for tomorrow ....  Stay tuned.
Bionic Cowgirl

Monday, August 18, 2014

Clicker Training - Again

Today Bill and I got to have a sort of 'play date' - very unusual for this time of year.  All that means is 'we got to go to town' together; something we love to do.  We tackled the lodge chores quickly and the guests wished us well as we saw them off to their various hiking adventures, letting them know they would probably beat us back to the lodge.

We figured that if we got our town chores done in a timely fashion, we could play with GunDiva's horse, Skeeter, a bit.  She had mentioned wanting to teach Skeeter her name, having been appalled to discover her horse didn't have the slightest clue as to her name.  Now in the horse's defense, she was the only horse on the property for three months and was always happy to meet any person willing to come by her corral and chat with her.  She didn't need a name.  Since I had used a considerable amount of 'clicker fun' with Jesse (many years ago), GunDiva suggested Bill and I could start teaching Skeeter to come when called.

We stopped by GunDiva's and picked up the clickers.  We were so excited to work with Skeeter when we got to her corral that we got the box of carrot chunks that were waiting for us, snatched our cameras and a couple clickers and headed out to see the horses.  I told Bill we needed to teach her targeting before we could start on the name game.  Skeeter was all excited to learn something new, perfectly willing to watch Bill and try to figure out what he wanted when he said 'touch'.  We decided to use the lid to the carrot container as the 'target'.
Bill held it out; Skeeter focused on the yellow band on the clicker; Bill clicked and ...

"Oh, I get a carrot!"  Skeeter thought she could do this!

When I tried it with her, she focused on the lid ... and got her treat.
She was very gracious in taking her carrot tidbits, which surprised me because GunDiva said she could be a bit 'muggy' about food.  She snuffled my carrot hand once, got a good bop and left it alone from then on.  We did notice, however, that she didn't seem to focus on the 'click'; she just expected a treat for touching the target.  We let it go and started playing a name game.

We decided to stand a few feet apart and take turns calling her to us, giving her a treat whenever she changed direction and focused on the one calling her name.  It took quite awhile before she would focus on our voices; she was just interested in the closest one to her.  She would stare at you for awhile, until she realized you were not going to give her anything, then turn back to the other.  Soon she was going back and forth - but we realized she was coming to the sound of the click, not her name.  When I explained this to GunDiva, she asked if we had 'charged the clicker'.  Duh.

In hindsight, I should have taken a glance at the clicker book also.  I seem to have forgotten a lot about the beginnings of clicker training.  I had totally forgotten that step.  No wonder poor Skeeter didn't quite 'see the light' for us.  She tried her best - and was getting it - just much slower than if we had done it correctly.

Sorry, GunDiva, hope we haven't set you back too far.  She's a smart girl; I already had her following the target to the ground and touching it when I would give it a short toss.  We might have another frisbee partner one day.

Bill, of course, had to play some other 'games' with her, trying to teach her to 'mane lead' like he does Ranger - by putting his arm under her neck, grabbing a piece of mane on the opposite side, and walking.  She was doing well with it until she figured out he was going to pick on her by leading her to the tub.  She's pretty sure he's a goof.

We took time to give Copper some good scratches through the fence panels so he wouldn't feel left out.  He definitely wanted in on some action, too.  Soon, Copper.

It made for a fun day.
Bionic Cowgirl

Friday, August 15, 2014

One of Those Days

Some days just don't go as planned.  Today was one of those days for me.

Today, I was going to go down the mountain to help with the delivery of our son-in-law's new mustang.  He was to leave the Canon City BLM holding facility at about 9:am, and we expected his arrival at his new home about four hours later.

I finished most of my chores at the lodge and pulled out a little before 11:am.  An hour and a half drive time, and I would be there with time to spare.  Only some trips down the mountain are... not as fast as usual.  They may or may not involve a HUGE land yacht pulling an equally oversized SUV.  And may or may not be going FAR below the posted speed limit.  With perhaps a dozen or so drivers putting along behind, trying to go faster by shaking their fists out the windows.  Not too sure how well that works.  Strikes me as being as ineffective as rocking front to back like you are on a swing while going up a steep hill.  Just gives you something to do, I guess.  So I took that time to pull over and make sure the burning smell that was assaulting my nose wasn't MY vehicle.  It wasn't.

I made it down the mountain in record time (and not in a good way) and dropped some stuff off at our youngest daughter's house. As I walked out of the house, I got a text from the oldest daughter.

"He's here"

Oops.  Hard to help unload when you are still 30 minutes away. 

I texted back "k". 

I mention this only because it is the first time I have successfully sent a text to another person on purpose.  I am afraid I am something of a troglodyte.

I continued my journey down the road and got onto the freeway, got up to speed, and immediately slammed on the breaks and started a five mile long, five mile per hour crawl up the interstate.

I passed a number of odd pieces of debris, damaged vehicles and a large tractor-trailer flatbed with no load backing very slowly up the interstate. 

Low bridge.

Not so low a tank, no longer on its' trailer.

You might be surprised how slowly traffic passes by a sight like that.  From both directions.  Lots of emergency vehicles were just showing up.  LOTS of them.

Traffic sped up after that, and I arrived at my destination about 10 minutes later than I had originally expected.  But the horse had arrived an hour earlier than expected, so I was still way to late to help unload.

Copper the horse was already in his new digs.

Meeting his new room mate.  Er,  corral mate.
Copper, Skeeter.  Skeeter, Copper.

And learning the joys of being brushed.
Having your very own human can be a good thing.

So I spent some time torturing  teasing training skeeter.

At one point, I lay myself across Skeeter's back, but she walked off.  Since I only had a loop of bailing twine around her neck for control,  I went ahead and just slid off.  Seemed like the thing to do.

It was while splashing water on her from the kiddie pool that I had another first with my cell phone.  It fell in the pool.  I quickly removed the battery and blotted most of the water off.

Not long after, I headed home.  I stopped at a grocery store that I knew had a pay-phone and called Juanita to ask her if she needed any thing from the store before I came up the mountain.  She said no, and asked why I was calling from a pay-phone.  I told her I had taken the batteries out of my cell phone.  She knew what that meant.

She laughed.

I guess in the greater scheme of things, my day might not have gone the way I expected.  But it still went a lot better than at least one truck drivers day...


Monday, August 11, 2014

8120 - Alias The Red-headed Step Child

Well, we have now become a five mustang family!  JayBird, GunDiva's husband picked out was chosen by his Mustang at the Canon City facility last Friday.  We have been so busy here at the Lodge, I haven't had time to get this all down - but I had a great time with them... It was so exciting getting to see all the beautiful horses and the setup.  It is a fantastic facility!  They really do a great job there.

We arrived right on time and were taken in a bus (after all the sign-in process to make sure we would be safe) to the pens - about 40 of them, each with close to 100 horses a piece.  The horses weren't crowded; these were big pens, and extremely well organized.  He had in mind what he wanted, and a list of horses he had seen on a website I didn't even know existed.  He had numbers in hand but had a very open mind about what he saw.  We were led to the pens holding the horses he wanted to see:  geldings aged 2 - 5 years old.  He looked and watched; the rest of us stood and got fondled by all the horses.  They are very friendly.  Obviously this way of doing adoptions is a great start to the gentling process, because the horses became familiar with having people near them, touching them, talking to them - in a safe location.  It was a lot of fun!  I kept saying I was glad I was not adopting because I would never have been able to make up my mind on the first visit.  In every pen, several horses would 'pick us out' and follow us around.  It would have been really, really hard to pick a 'bad' horse.  They all look healthy and in good shape.

I'm very glad that JayBird and Copper picked each other, because they just glow when they are together.  Welcome to the family Copper Casanova!  Pop over here and see the new beauty.

And a really big THANK YOU to my wonderful husband for letting me run away from the lodge for the day, so I could enjoy all the horses and the company of GunDiva, Jay and Jay's mom.
Bionic Cowgirl


The prison facility doesn't allow photographs without special permission, so I found a picture on line of an 8120 to post.
 Not at all what I pictured him getting. (Bill)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wait, What?

B-  What's that Juanita?  You say when you fed this evening, your two horses would let you brush out their tails, but Ranger would run off?  We can't have that.  I'll go work with him right now while he's still eating.

B-  Hiya, Ranger.

R-  Hello Beel.

B-  What'cha doing, buddy?

R-  Eating.

B-  Well, as long as you are just standing there, I'll brush the tangles out of your tail and...

R-  No Beel.  I will walk away from the food.

B-  And I will follow you and still brush your tail.

R-  I will walk more far.

B-  And I will keep walking behind you brushing.

R-  You are not stopping.

B-  Nope. And you are not eating.

R-  I will eat while you pull my tail Beel.  But I will not be happy.

B-  Don't much care, Ranger.  Your tail will look nice and swat flies better.  Oh look!  The nice folks that rented the cabin next door are bringing their little kids over to visit.

B-  How old is he?  Just under two?  Cute kid!

B-  Oh!  He said "White Horsey" and looked at Washoe.  Yes, he is a white horse.

B-  Ah, now he is looking at Jesse and saying "White horsey" again.  Yes, she is a white horse, too.

B-  HA HA HA!  "Donkey!"  He said "Donkey"!  Ranger, did you hear what he called you?  HEE HE HEE!

R-  Beel he was looking at you.

B- HA HA HA!  Uhh...ah...wait...

R-  Stop braying Beel.  And stop pulling my tail.

Monday, August 4, 2014

This Time of Year

This time of year, Juanita and I are pretty much tied to the lodge.  At least one of us has to be here at all times to check in guests, answer the phone and generally do "lodge stuff".  We can only leave one at a time to do errands and such.  And I can get the innkeeper version of cabin fever after just a week or two.  Out!   Let me out!

So this morning Juanita took a call from the oldest daughter:

"Hello? Oh, hi dear!  What are  you up to today?  Oh, you took time off work to install in your kitchen cabinets?  That sounds like a lot of work for one person. How's Skeeter, your horse?  Oh, That's nice.  Okay dear, we'll talk later"

"Bill, she may need some help putting up the kitchen cabinets they just bought so..."

I'm pretty sure she said something else, but I couldn't hear 'cause the front door slamming shut behind me cut her off.


Kitchen Before


By the time I got to the farm house she and her husband are renting, she already had the base cabinets screwed together.  She told me she was glad to see me as she had just gotten her last long screw STUCK halfway into one of the cabinets.  I got it out, and had brought some more screws, so in no time at all, we had the base together and leveled.  Soon the wall cabinets were hung and ready for painting.  I am not a big fan of painting, and she seems to like it, so we decided to go play with her mustang "Skeeter" and she could paint later.

She done good

Skeeter is coming right along in her training.  Today we visited the chickens, walked down the farm road a quarter mile or so, inspected a large tractor tire.  We also looked at the large irrigation pipe feeding the corn field.

You can't see them, but they are there...

And there we saw toads.

Millions of inch long toads.

Here they are, Bill

Skeeter the horse didn't seem to care about the toads, but it kind of creeped me out.  It was just a day or so ago I was talking to one of our guests at breakfast about the plagues that have hit Colorado in the last few years.

Huge fires.
A plague of insects (Okay, they were pine bark beetles rather than locusts, but they still did a huge amount of damage.)

I said it seems almost Biblical.  All we were missing were frogs raining from the sky.

Toads.  Millions of them.

On the bright side, they may be taking care of the plague of mosquitoes that have been gnawing on Skeeter the horse.

We soon walked back into the corral and did  just a bit of trailer training.  Man, that is one long horse.  She can reach the front of the trailer and eat the hay out of the bunker while keeping her back feet firmly planted on the ground outside the door.

Then she got hosed off, and went for a nice roll in the mud.  It's a horse/hippo/pig thing.

It made for a fun day with the oldest daughter and her horse.

Except for the toads.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hard to Get

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


B-  Ranger?  What's up buddy?


B-  Aww, come on fella.  I've been really busy the last week or so, so I haven't been able to come talk with you.  Don't just turn your back on me.  We've been hard at work over at the lodge.


B-  What can I do for you so you'll forgive me?

R-  Shoe-gar kyoob.

B-  Okay buddy, you've got it.  Next time I come over I'll bring you a sugar cube.

R-  Hi Beel.

B-  Good.  Let me rub you head some.

R-  Okay Beel.  That is good to feel.

B-  Let me scratch your ears now.

R-  Do not touch my ears Beel.

B-  No, really you'll like it.  You always do once I start.

R-  Do not touch my ears Beel.

B-  Here we go.  Now stop pulling away...hold still...stop that...

R-  Do not.  Do.  Do touch my ears Beel.

B-  See buddy.  You always like it once we get past the ticklish part.  Look, I've got to get back to the lodge and get back to work.  I'll try to get out here a little more often to talk, okay?

R-  Okay Beel.

R-  Beel?

B-  Yeah?

R-  Shoe gar kyoob.