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

running a successful business and riding as often as possible.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Forgotten

B-  Hey 'ya Ranger!  How's my old horse today?

R-  I am good Beel.

B-  I haven't had a chance to ask you how your stay with our daughters horses went when we went on vacation a couple weeks ago.

R-  It was good Beel.  

B-  Yeah.   We didn't think you would be able to handle the long drive and then a couple days of riding, so we took you down to the "sitters" for a while.

R-  It taked many days.

B-  Yup.  We took you down a day early to save us about 2 hours of extra driving with the other horses in the trailer.  It gave us an early start.

R-  I getted into the rolling shed at a place that was not the usual.

B-  Umm, about that.  I had hooked up the trailer, and checked the lights.  One of the turn-signal/brake lights wasn't working so I pulled the connector off and fixed it.

R-  I getted into the rolling shed at a place that was not the usual Beel.

B-  Yeah, so I drove the truck/trailer around to the front of the lodge and then Juanita and I loaded up all of the stuff we needed into the truck.  Coffee cups full of coffee, a cooler for groceries we were going to pick up after dropping you off, Juanita's laptop computer so she could take a certification test at our oldest daughters college.  That sort of thing.

R-  Beel I getted int...

B-  So we got into the truck and started heading down the highway, put on an audio book to listen to and then Juanita asked  "So, did Ranger load up okay?"

B-  "Uh, that would be a no."  So I stopped along side the highway, just up the hill from your corral, grabbed a halter and a dog leash (I didn't have a lead rope in the truck), had walked over to get you.

R-  It was not the usual.  The usual is you remember the horse when you take the horse somewhere.

B-  Juanita remembered before we needed to turn around...

R-  A dog rope.  You are not very much at all.

B-  I'm sorry Buddy.

R-  I agree.  A dog rope.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Finally, A Break!

It's been another very, very busy several seasons for Bill and I, so we were quite wistful for a break.  Since this October was our 30th anniversary, we decided we deserved a weekend off and now that we have two horses that are "rideable", I chose Canyon Trails Ranch for a horse camping getaway.  If any of you get Horse & Rider magazine, you might have seen the article in the Sept. 2017 issue about the Canyons of the Ancients, located on BLM land adjoining Mesa Verde in CO.  Perfect.  We needed to stay within our own state until we get legal title for Alloy, our newest Mustang.  It was a 9 hour drive from us and the weather people said they were expecting better weather than here.
This was the sunrise here at the lodge the morning we pulled out.  What a beautiful omen.

We had taken Ranger to visit 'the cousins' (GunDiva's horses) the night before.  The drive was uneventful, horses traveled well and sunny. We pulled into Cortez a few minutes before 5:00 p.m., phoned the ranch for specific directions, and 25 minutes later saw the 'face' of the ranch.
We were led to the campsite (of which there were only 4 for horses) and were delighted to learn we would be the only ones there for the weekend.  It also had an electrical hookup, a water hydrant per campsite close to the 15' x 15' pipe corral, and a short walk to a bathroom with a shower and flushing toilet.  Such luxuries.
Just hangin' with the horses.  What a way to end the day.
On Friday, we just kicked about the campsites, enjoying the main campground with the tent sites, an eating area and complete with a chuckwagon kitchen.

Complete with chairs to hang out with a good book or enjoy the colors still in abundance.
Alloy had the hives - again - when we left home, so we weren't sure if he would tolerate being ridden.  However, he was good when Bill saddled him up for a short walk around the campsite.
This was a male hogan that was in the camp.  Reba explored it like it might be a dog house.  These small ones were often used as sweat lodges; less space to get hot.
This was the 'outhouse'.  Doesn't look like much from the outside, but was very warm and clean inside, with a real hot water shower and a flushing toilet.

Whatch' doin'?
Washoe and Alloy behaved like perfect gentlemen, sharing their pen.  We put them in separate pens for a short time so they could have more space, but they hollered back and forth until we put them back together.  We spent a considerable amount of time sitting next to their pen reading, and saw a lot of this.

Saturday we decided to take a trail to the closest Anasazi ruin that was on a trail that left right from the campsite.  However it was on permitted BLM property, so not wanting to get the owners in trouble by riding the horses there, we opted to hike.  Reba dog thought this a good idea because than she could go (she does not like being with the horses, so it is either her or horses with us).  She did a LOT of free running on this trip.  For a house dog, her feet held up really well, but she did get pretty tired on the hike; I would guess about 4 miles.
The trail ran along stone walls and cliffsides, and past small log buildings like hogans, eventually getting to some of the smaller ruins.

Coming back down we got a good view of the back of the ranch itself, where their horses grazed in pastures.
... and a view of our own campsite.
Later in the afternoon, we again saddled up the horses and rode all the little twisty trails throughout the site and part of the way down the road to the other trail heads, just to see how Alloy would handle the hives in the heat - it was sunny and 69 degrees.  He did great.  The horses found the trail we had hiked in the morning and were rearing to go.  It made our decision to take them onto the main site the next morning.

Sunday dawned sunny and warm with a very slight breeze; perfect to hit the trail.  After a lazy breakfast we headed out with the horses.  It was about a 1/2 mile ride down a county dirt road, then a bit down a paved road to get to the Canyon of the Ancients Monument.
There were two loop trails and one that traversed across the entire area, which we decided would be too long for this first trip, so we started off on one of the shorter loops.
Lots of different kinds of cactus encroaching on the trails.  Washoe is an old hand at this, but we didn't know how Alloy would do.  Should not have worried; he just followed Washoe's lead.
We had a lesson in map reading 101 and saw lots of great views.
One of the best views I had though, was of this very happy rider and his very good horse.
We did not complete the loop, only doing about 2 hours in the heat, but we did see some ruins from across a canyon.
We had such a great relaxing time just getting to hang, with no time synch, lots of napping, reading, and just being. Considering Alloy probably still does not have 50 hours worth of actual ride time, we are very pleased with his temperament and behavior.  Wet saddle blankets are the best way to get a well trained trail horse, and he is well on his way.

Bionic Cowgirl

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Stick It.

Yesterday was looking like a pretty good day for my grand daughter and me to take the younger horses out for a ride.  It was cool (30-32 degrees) and the wind was blowing (10-15 mph), but still a good day.

Except that when it's cool, the horses start "feeling their oats" and get kind of bouncy.  And when the wind is blowing, the horses get kind of twitchy.  And then there was a bulldozer cutting a new driveway up the mountain side just a hundred yards or so from the horses corral, that was clanking and grinding and roaring, and the horses were concerned about that, too.

Okay, it was a day it would be stupid to take a green horse out on.  But stupid won't stop ME from doing something I want to do.

After catching Washoe and Alloy, Ranger ran up to me and asked to be caught, too.  Ranger is a lazy turd and NEVER asks to go.  But he seemed to want OUT of the pen.  He pushed his head into me as I tightened Alloys halter.  He REALLY wanted to go. I laughed at him, and we still made him stay, so he went down the hill to the stream and sulked.

The grand kid and I got the horses ready to ride.  Washoe got a bareback pad and reins hooked to his halter.  Alloy got a full saddle and bit.  After saddling, but while he was still tied to the truck, Alloy started a "standing" bucking fit.  Just stood there and bucked in place.  It scared Washoe enough that he broke his lead rope, looked rather pleased with himself, and started walking back to the corral to hang out with Ranger.  He got caught and Alloy settled down, so we climbed on to go for a ride.

The good news is I landed on my feet.  Great 2 point landing and I STUCK it.

I mounted in the dirt parking lot in front of the lodge. Alloy took a couple steps with me on his back one way, then we turned and took a couple steps the other way.  Then he got to the middle of the paved road out front and BLEW UP.  I may have made 2 jumps with him, and then I broke free and sailed off the side and landed on my feet.


Alloy kept on bucking beside me and I hung on to the reins.  No way I was going to let him loose and get away with that.  No way.  So I clamped my grip down on those leather ropes and HELD ON!  He kept right on bucking and gritting his teeth as he slung his head back and forth...

I feel I must interrupt this narrative to remind my dear readers that even as a small horse, this animal weighs more than five times what I weigh.

He spun me around at the end of the reins and when I finally let go I cartwheeled @$$ hole over tea cup while he continued kicking and stomping every thing in the area.

I was still in the area.

He ran down the hill bucking and stepping on his reins, and finally stopped down the hill.  As I limped down the hill to finally catch him in front of the neighbors house I thought...

  "That's okay.  I LANDED ON MY FEET!"

Washoe, the grand daughter and Juanita watched.  I think they had popcorn.

We then went for a very short ride around the parking lot, and I got off and hobbled with him around the block.

As I turned Alloy loose in the corral after the "ride", Ranger looked over at me and said...

"I telled  you that you should take me."

Yup buddy.  Of the two of us, you're the smart one.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017


B-  Hey buddy!  How's it going?

R-  Hello Beel.  It is good.  I have food.

B-  Yeah, you've had your head stuck in that feeder non-stop lately.  You're getting kinda pot-bellied.

R-  I am just doing my job.

B-   Your job kinda changed this summer, didn't it.  I tend to ride Alloy a lot more than I ride you, now.

R-  I have to keep track of the herd now that That Mare is gone.  I must eat much.  And yell when the others leave so they know where to go home at.

B-  That was very sad, wasn't it.  She foundered and was in pain.  The vet and the farrier thought she would never get better, and she'd always be in pain.  So last July, we had to put her down.

R-  She got dead.

B-  When we put down your herd-mate Shadow seventeen years ago, You looked for him for years afterward.  This time I took you over to look at Jesse.

R-  She got dead.

B-  And you never looked for her afterwards.

R-  It would not help.  When they get dead they do not eat any more.  Or be with the herd.  Or yell so I can find my way home.

B-  I didn't show her to Washoe.  He looked for her for days.  I didn't even think about showing her to him. He seems to have stopped looking now, though.  And Alloy, the new horse, never really seemed to notice.  I thought that was odd because she was his first "friend" in the herd.

R-  That Mare always liked dogs and young animals.  Al-thing is both.

B-  Alloy.  And I think he would disagree with your assessment of his heritage.   And you were pretty partial to Jesse when she moved in with us, and she was only 5 months old.

R-  The mother mare was very old and tired.  I needed to help.

B-  Jesse's mom was more than willing to let you take over the raising of that filly.

R-  I teached her many rules.  She did not pee on the food.  She maked all new horses follow the rules.

B-  She would step right up and take over any herd we introduced her to.

R-  Bossy.

B-  She was at that.  We all miss her. 

R-  She maked a good mare.

B-  Yeah, she was a very good lead mare for the herd.

She is missed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Alloy Oop!

I have not posted in a while.  My bad.  It's been a busy summer and Juanita and I have been running non-stop.

When we picked Alloy the mustang up in January, it was too cold and snowy to work with him.
When February rolled around it was too cold and snowy to work with him.
March was too cold and snowy to work with him.
April was just too snowy.
May we had a snowstorm with three feet of snow.
June we got busy at the lodge with guests.
July, more guests.

August hit and I realized it is about to start snowing again, and guests or not, I better get with the program.

During the preceding seven months, I would do some work with Alloy, but none consistently.  Alloy reverted to his old ways.  Again, my bad.

When Alloy was first taken in by his first trainer, Jessica, he had a bucking problem.  The problem was he was GOOD at bucking.  Jessica sent him to trainer #2.  Al seemed to get over his problem and was sent back to Jessica.  Jessica worked extensively with Al, and he showed the makings of a great trail horse.

On to owner number two.  For whatever reasons, Alloy started bucking again.  Was sent to the next trainer.  Still bucking.

I picked him up.  He got extensive time off, but when worked this summer, he still bucked on occasion.  Often enough I was... worried.  My previous mustang, Ranger, dumped me, oh, I don't know... probably twenty times.  No damn fun.  And I am about eighteen years older now, and not interested in doing that any more.

Fortunately, Al didn't buck while I was on him.  He was bucking just after saddling, or right after I dismounted.  And boy can that fodder-mucker BUCK!  One time he ran into the road bucking so hard the stirrups clapped together above his back and one of them broke.

One of the things we noticed about Al, was he seemed to get bitten by bugs a lot.  He would have large welts.  So we would spray him with fly spray.  Still welts.  More spray, even more welts.  Finally Juanita said "That looks more like hives than bug bites!"

Poop.  I think the guy is allergic to the spray we use.  We quit using it, and the "bites" went away.

I wonder if the hives were the original bucking trigger, at least here in Colorado.  Assuming the hives were the trigger and we stopped them, now we just need to lose the "habit".  Bucking is not good, Alloy.  Just say no.

So I did.

Every time that jerk would start bucking I would run up to his face, latch onto the lead rope or reins, and scream "NO!  NO!  NO!" like some sort of lunatic at him.  He would get kind of bug-eyed and freeze, as I was obviously unstable and a danger to all.  Then I would rub his neck and tell him what a good boy he was.  I've been doing this of the last 3 weeks or so now, and the episodes are getting more rare, and not as violent or prolonged.

And I have been able to mount and ride him with a certain amount of confidence. Probably 6 or 8 rides at this point.  Increasing in time from just a couple minutes in the corral, until today when we went for a real, honest to goodness trail ride.  We spent an hour and a half in the forest.

Today I saddled Al up, and he threw a minor bucking fit while he was tied to the hitch rail.  I waded in and grabbed his halter and yelled "NO!NO!NO!" at him and he stopped bucking.  And went into a full angry sulk.  Like a 12 year old boy who got in trouble.  Tight lipped, squinty eyed, pinched nostril pout.  No eye contact and staring off in the distance even when I told him he was a good boy for ending his fit.

It was really kind of funny.

In a couple minutes he got over it.  His eyes got soft again and he focused on me. We mounted up and spent an hour and a half on the trails on the nearby national forest with Juanita and Washoe.

I wore red to make my body easier to find.

Alloy was a very good horse today, And little by little we are building up trust in one another and are enjoying each others company.

Some day I can lose the "chicken hat".  But not yet.



Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Training of a Trail Horse - Skeeter

Well, we have had a few successful outings with GunDiva's horse, Skeeter.  We had to forego training for a bit while we took out the rides for Blue Sky (Bucky rides), so she got a bit of a rest.  Not sure she wanted the rest, as she was always the first to the fence when we entered with a halter.  Such a good sign.

Bill, Autobot and I had finally found time to try a short ride in the forest - Skeeter's first time 'out of town'.  Autobot led out on Washoe, I followed on Ranger and Bill brought up the rear on Skeeter, so she was among friends and could watch how the "old pros" handled all the trail type obstacles.  Skeeter can tend to get stuck sometimes.  When she sees something that is new to her, she just stops and stares - then it is like she has forgotten how to move her feet - so it was a slow beginning.  She does eventually remember that she should be moving.  We hadn't planned on going very far; just enough to see how she would respond to all the new stimuli.

Of course, Ranger and I had to add our share of suspense.  On the first downhill, Ranger's knees gave out and down we went.  Occasionally that would happen with Bill, but Ranger would catch himself and pop back up.  This time (maybe because of the downward slope) we went all the way down, with him rolling to the right and pinning my leg.  He was able to right himself, so I checked him out and climbed back on.  Of course, there was this huge new bruise inside my right knee.  Poor boy seemed so embarrassed.  Skeeter?  Just stood there and watched; no spook in her.

Not too much farther it was becoming apparent that she was working too hard at staying calm, so we turned around and headed back home.  She did a great job.
* * * * * * * * * *
A few days later, GunDiva came up and took her for her first official trail ride, completing what we call the 'short one-hour ride'.

 Again, a few stuck places, a few places of not staying on the trail, but overall a very successful, complete ride.

 She is handling some tough trail elements and learning to wear her boots.

She handled the switchback well and finished the circuit.
* * * * * * * *
Today, Autobot climbed aboard Skeeter and I rode Washoe.

The goal was again to complete the short one-hour ride.  Many parts of it were much smoother and we found a couple new 'sticking places', but not the small creek crossing.

She is going to be a super trail horse.

Bionic Cowgirl

Friday, July 14, 2017


On Tuesday, May 30th 2017, I got a phone call I had been dreading.

I have been working on this post for months now.  It's not easy.

When Juanita and I moved up to Allenspark to run the lodge in December of 1997, one of our goals was to own horses.  The Allenspark Lodge is right across the street from what was billed as Colorado's oldest, continuously run riding livery.  (It opened in the late 1800's renting burro's for rides in the mountains.) We hoped that would help us learn about horses and gain some experience with horses before buying our own.  The first year the livery was run by Chris, and we learned some good stuff about horses.

On the second year, Bucky took over managing  the livery.

Now Bucky was a unforgettable character.  If you spent much more that 10 minutes with him, you would remember.  Up-front.  Outgoing.  Funny.  All "old west cowboy".  He could tell you a story that you knew could not possibly be true, and then bring in a witness to verify the story as true.  I know, because sometimes, I was the witness and had done that $#!T with him.

He became an integral part of our lives and our family.  Our kids and our grand kids all had favorite Bucky stories.

Miles Buckley,"Bucky" to his friends (and everyone else) was born a little over 65 years ago in Maine.  His parents were not poor, and I believe they expected great things from their son.  Doctor, lawyer, politician.  Something along those lines.  But from the time he was a small child, he wanted to be a cowboy.

And he never outgrew the desire.

When we met he had a small acreage outside Nogales Arizona.  He lived there with wife number 4, and he was coming up alone to Colorado during the summer to escape the heat, and probably his wife.  The first year he came up here he ran the Wild Basin Lodge Livery.  (Juanita and I ran that one for about 30 years one summer a few years back.)  The next year he ran the livery across the street from us in Allenspark.  We developed an unexpectedly close friendship.  That may have had something to do with the fact I had a liquor license and sold beer...

The next summer, Bucky tipped his hat goodbye to 'ol number 4 and rode up to Colorado on horseback.  He had one saddle horse, and one untrained 2 year old Mexican mustang that he broke to ride on the trail.  He rode from right at the Mexican border to the middle of Colorado in 9 weeks.  No support team, no cell phone, no GPS (I'm not sure the army was allowing civilian use of the satellite system yet), just him and his horses and a compass.  He had lost about 20 pounds by the time he got here in April.  He made me take him into town to buy some tennis shoes.  "I'm DONE with these boots." he said.

Over the following years we gave each other support or grief, depending on the circumstances.  We knew each others strengths and weaknesses and would respond accordingly.  I knew he was afraid of electricity, so if I saw him working on an outlet or switch, I would sneak up behind him and CLAP loudly by his ear.  He'd jump out of his skin, and I'd laugh.  But then, he knew I was afraid of heights so when I was challenging myself and looking off a cliff during a rest stop one ride, he snuck up behind me and grabbed my shoulders.  I got to ride home in soiled underwear.  Jerk.

Bucky introduced Juanita and I to our first horses.  He had a friend at a livery in Estes Park that wanted to unload sell a couple mustangs that he had not had much time or success in working with.  Bucky gave us a lot of advice on how to work with the animals, and some of it was good.  Some of it... well we still have Ranger Mustang, and he came out okay.  They didn't get along too well.  Every time Bucky would see Ranger Mustang, he would tell me "As soon as that 'sum bitch dies, you let me know.  I'll climb on and ride him then, but not before."

Bill, Juanita--------Bucky, 'Ol Number 5

When asked about the wife he left behind, Bucky would say "Wives are like fence-posts.  You just go on a little further, and you'll find another."  Well, Number 5 found him.  Andrea stayed married to him longer than all of the others combined, I think.  Which was something of a surprise.  One time he came over for a beer (or 3) and when Juanita asked how Andrea was doing.  He suddenly leapt up shouting "Oh no!" and ran out the door.  Turns out that as Andrea had dislocated a knee-cap in a horse related accident, she needed help getting into and out of the shower.  He forgot her.  For an hour or more.  The hot water had run out LONG before he remembered her.  Sitting on a short shower stool and not QUITE being able to turn the water off.

A number of my blogs featured Bucky, sometimes under an alias such as "Cowboy" or "Ham".
Vacation, Another vacation, Work related.


Early last January when Juanita and I went to pick up Alloy the mustang from the San Diego area, we stopped at Bucky and Andreas' ranch in southern Arizona both going out and coming back.  It was a nice, if short, couple of couple day visits.

Then, about a month and a half later we got a call from Andrea.  Bucky had gone into the doctors' office complaining of shortness of breath and thought he might have pneumonia.

Turns out he had cancer.

In his lungs, his liver, his stomach, his bones, all stage 4.


The VA hospital made a good faith effort, but there wasn't much that could be done, really.

Bucky had a group of riders scheduled to ride in Monument Valley in northern Arizona/southern Utah from mid to late April, but he was in no shape to take the rides out.  So I filled in for him.  I stopped by his place and visited with Andrea and Bucky before picking up their horses and heading up north for a couple of weeks.  He did not look good.  He had lost probably 30 pounds in the 2 months since I had seen him.  Two weeks later when I brought the horses back, he was completely bed ridden and home bound.

On May 30th, I got that phone call from Andrea.  Bucky had passed away.

They had a ride scheduled in Colorado for July, so Andrea brought up the horses, and Juanita and I took out the rides.

Yesterday, after the guests had gone, Andrea and I took our horses up into the mountains just out of town and sat on a hill top and toasted Bucky with some good, aged, single malt scotch.

"Thanks for the time you spent with us, Bucky.  You will be missed."

Ranger had carried his ashes up with us in his saddle bags.

I got him to ride Ranger after all.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I Love a Parade

B-  Hey Ranger!  You've lived here in Allenspark for 18 or so years and you've never been in the 4th of July parade.  You're about 30 years old now and there won't necessarily be many more chances for you. It will be fun!  Let's do this!

R-  Okay Beel.

B-  So let's clean you up a bit and put some tinsel on your breast collar...

R-  No Beel.

B-  Come on, buddy.  It's purdy!

R-  No Beel.  Ten-sell is very scary.

B-  Okay then.  No tinsel.

B-  All righty then, let's hit the road!   We'll just follow our truck and ride next to Washoe...

R-  Beel there is a monster on the back of the stinky truck.  I must not go there.

B-  Ranger, it's a banner.  It will not hurt you.  Just touch it.

R-  Okay Beel.  Oh.  It isn't very scary Beel.  You should not worry about it.

B-  Right.  So far so good.  Okay, it sounds like the parade is starting.  We seem to be DEAD LAST .  That's probably just as well.  Nothing will be chasing us.

B-  Okay, here we go!  Hey look!  We are just behind a truck with a killer sound system and some HUGE speakers!  They've turned it on just as we're rounding the corner in front of the post office and...


B-  CHEESE AND CRUST, RANGER!  It's just a bunch of people and kids!  And a little loud music...



B-  Jeeze.  It may be about 500 people, but most of them are just kids holding plastic bags to catch candy with.  And a few pinwheels, flags, crazy hats and costumes and stuff.

R-  Say Beel.  These are just many many peoples!  You do not need to be afraid!

B-  Great.  Can I climb back on now?

R-  Okay Beel.

B-  Wonderful.  I just got a standing ovation for climbing back on my horse.  Thanks for embarrassing me in front of the crowds of strangers and neighbors, buddy.

B-  Okay, we've finished with the biggest part of the town and crowds.  Let's call it a win and go home.

R-  Okay Beel.

R-  Beel?

B-  Yeah buddy?

R-  How about no more parararades any more.

B-  Sounds good my friend.  You're  old enough to make that choice.  But at least it's off your bucket list.  That's a list of things you want to do before you die.

R-  I do not want any thing to do that will make me think I am going to die Beel.  Please empty the bucket.

B-  Okay buddy. But wouldn't it be fun to-


Monday, July 3, 2017

A Bad Thing Almost

This is Ranger.  The horse.

On the day before this day we the whole herd almost starved to death.

Many days ago more horses moved into my herd.  We barely had enough food before the new horses comed.  Then the new horses started to eat here.  We barely had enough food still.  We would run out of food just after the sun wented up and the peoples would bring more food before we died much.  I was not happy but it was okay.

On the day before this day the food was gone away before the sun EVEN WENTED AWAY!  We would have gotted dead.  I think the new horses eated too much of the food.

It was a good thing I knowed what I needed to do.

I yelled and yelled and yelled.  A people from the next door people barn commed over and gived me some grass so I stopped yelling while I chewed.  But I runned out of grass so I yelled and yelled and yelled.

Beel finally wented over to find out why I yelled.  I showed him the no food in the food places.

It taked a long time for Beel to understand and I had to show him a lot.  But he finally understanded.  Beel broughted more foods for all of us the horses to eat.

It is very hard to train peoples.  It is even more harder to train the doe-mestic peoples.   You have to be slow and con-sistant . 

I think they are not too smart.

Ranger.  The horse.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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