I moved to Colorado over 40 years ago, and noticed the state has a, well, "different" culture.
People in Colorado don't think it strange that some folks will go outside in weather that can be life threatening, just to play or exercise.
Some people will climb on their bicycles wearing an outfit that would embarrass any self-respecting stripper and go up steep mountain roads, and not do it to get to work or anything. Just do it for "fun". (It's kind of odd, because I never see them smiling...)
Some people will hike for hours, and then climb up cliffs just to get up on top. It's not like there's a McDonald's up there or any thing. They just do it.
On a fairly regular basis I ride my horse. Climbing on the back of a thousand pound fear driven prey animal is arguably not a reasonable behavior.
The festivals can be odd, too. Like "Frozen Dead Guy Days" in Nederland. "Fruitcake Toss" in Manitou Springs. Or "Mike the Headless Chicken Festival" in Fruita.
I can't help explain most of that stuff, but some of the slang shortcuts can be kind of confusing until you know what they are really saying.
I've been working on a listing for the people that come into Colorado to help them with the "o-o" abbreviations we use around here.
NoCo---Northern Colorado SoCo---Southern Colorado LoDo---Lower Downtown FoCo---Fort Collins LoCo---Boulder HoJo---Howard Johnsons PoPo---Police SoSo---Meh CoCo---Chocolate RoRo---Scooby's in trouble DoDo---See LoCo GoGo---70's dance NoNo---Mistake ToTo---Dorothy's dog YoYo---Again, see LoCo
(I have to apologize to my friends in Boulder. Love y'all, but it's so easy. YoNo?) Bill
We brought our 2 remaining horses home from their winter pasture a couple days ago. It's odd only having 2 horses now. First time in a while we've been able to feed just 1 forty pound bale in the morning.
But getting them up here took a little planing.
Alloy the Mustang decided about the time Ranger was put down that he had become a wild horse again. No touching required, or allowed. At least if the "toucher" was carrying a rope or halter.
I ended up doing some basic "target" training with him out in the field over the winter. Touch the halter, get a treat. Finding a treat that was worth touching the halter took a couple of trips. Apple slices? Not worth the danger approaching the halter put him in. Carrot slices? Close, but no. Dried pancakes? Waffles? Bread crusts? Nope-nope-nope. Crackers? OH hell YEAH! Saltines! Butter Crisp! And best of all, Ritz!
Bump the halter, get a cracker. What a great way to get your salt. None of this licking the block stuff, you just get to eat it!
After a couple of weekly trips down the mountain, he would not run away when I walked up with a halter in my hand. Of course, there was NO WAY IN HELL he was going to let me drape the rope over his neck, much less stick his nose in that bear trap device. You aren't a wild horse any more when you wear one of those things. It would be embarrassing when you are "back to the wild" like Big Al figured he had gotten. So he would touch it, but it was "head for the hills!" when I looked like I was going to touch HIM with it.
Now, every day that Al and I were doing the vending machine dance, Juanita and Washoe were walking around, Washoe in lead rope and halter, with him getting brushed, groomed, eating all sorts of treats, and just generally hanging out. The other half dozen horses in the field would try to nose in on Washoe and Alloy to try to get in on this snack action.
It was...difficult... to keep Al's attention with all the activity going on around him.
Moving day finally came, but we had a plan. We set up some panels to make a catch pen in one corner of the field. We would drive Alloy into the pen, and then we could halter him.
Moving that horse without a lead is like herding cats. Only the cat can run 30 MPH and weighs a half ton.
So I caught his girlfriend, Terri, and led her to the catch pen. He tried his best to block our progress by standing sideways in front of us to block our path. As we bulled past him, he would move in front of us to block us again. FOR A QUARTER MILE.
When we got Terri and Al into the catch pen, we suddenly realized why Al (and Washoe for that matter) did not want to leave. Of the 6 other horses in the field with them, it looked like 4 were mares in season. And although our 2 horses have been gelded, they seem to recall there was something.......
We got the horses except for Al and Washoe out of the pen, and I dropped the loop of a rope around Al's neck. He went nuts for about 5 seconds, pulling and rearing, and then he got over it. Just like that his eyes went soft and Juanita put the halter on him. Then we loaded both horses into the trailer and came home. No problem.
Washoe and Al unloaded just fine and we let them go in our pen. They seemed mostly glad to be home, but both continued wailing for a couple hours...
The best part of day, though, was picking up Washoe from pasture. Now he has been out there for three months, but he saw the trailer coming from half a mile away and came running all the way across that 60 acres to the gate, waiting for us! What a great boy.
Washoe (white) & Skeeter (black) all shined up and ready to go.
I did have a good time; found lots of holes in Washoe's training, but knew I would. He is 17 and I have never taken him to anything like this before. The only other arena work he has done is being one of the 'schooling horses' for guest riders. No obstacles, etc., thrown in with other horses being crazy.
Ignoring the blow-ups.
Considering his little pea-brain and lack of socialization, I have no complaints with his behavior. He did not buck or try to run away or any such thing. He did try to hide behind Skeeter often, when things started getting too much for him. After about one and a half hours, I climbed off and called it quits because it was plain it had gotten too much for him; he was pinning his ears flat at any horse that came anywhere near him and I didn't want him threatening to kick at them (the next step) - which is a terrible habit to overcome. The things he was a star about, were standing rock solid with racing motorcycles, crazy animal sounds blasting loudly from speakers, live goats in the arena, fireworks and gunshots - but then I knew those things would not bother him. What did bother him were lots of strange horses doing lots of strange things all around him, all at one time. He couldn't seem to focus on any one thing.
Jousting with pool noodles.
I never took him to clinics and when I did go, it was with Jesse. He has been with lots of strange horses, but only on trail rides. He is a wonderful trail horse, so ... I will work on some of this other stuff, but mostly getting him to focus on ME when things get weird. He totally lost that focus, so that is top priority. It was a lot of fun and Autobot and Skeeter did an awesome job! Most of us left the arena when the wind got bad enough to blow all the standing up things down, mostly all at once.
I called the clinic chaotic, but it was very organized and well-run and it did what it was intended to do, which was getting horses acclimated to what mounted posse horses have to deal with. In that, Skeeter (GunDiva’s horse) did shine. She handled the chaos like it was an everyday thing, and Washoe was like a dog hollering, “Squirrel!” I would love to attend more of these.
Bionic Cowgirl (who hasn’t posted in way too long.)
(This isn't really my story to tell, but Autobot gave me permission to write a short post about SoSo.)
Over the summer, Autobot's (now ex) boyfriend's mother gifted her a 15 year old gorgeous bay mare, Sofia Sonador. No one knew much about her history. SoSo had been given to Autobot's (now ex) boyfriend's mother nine-ish years before (maybe more - like I said, not my story so background details are fuzzy). She'd been saddled, but blew up and threw herself over, busting the saddle. After that, she was turned out to pasture.
She was given to Autobot, since it was felt that she needed a home where she could work and be loved. And, boy, was SoSo loved.
For a titled mustang (which means someone adopted her, successfully completed their one year BLM adoption period, and received her title), she'd spent most of her life with minimal human contact. And then Autobot came along. SoSo was a quick learner and took to Autobot right away.
Within three days of working with her, Autobot was in a saddle, being led around. Apparently, there was one incident in which SoSo put her into the fence and glanced her with a hoof, but otherwise it went pretty smoothly.
(Picture stolen from Autobot's IG account)
After a few days' work at SoSo's old home, it was time to move her to the lodge, where Autobot could work with her more consistently.
Sofia fit into the herd nicely and progressed quickly with her almost daily walks around the neighborhood. Autobot started Sofia the same way we start all of our horses on the mountain - with lots of walks and desensitization. First, in a halter only, then adding in the tack.
I love this picture. SoSo's so in tune with Autobot, she looks like she adores her.
SoSo progressed so quickly, in fact, that she came down to participate in our HallowEquine party, hosted by the USWHBA.
Jesse and Bullseye from Toy Story
The trainer who had been working with Skeeter was there, and had given Autobot a few lessons on Skeeter and Pearl, so she offered to work with them for a bit in the round pen.
I was so impressed with Sofia. Skeeter was at the trailer being a hot mess - screaming, pulling back, generally looking like an unbroke horse - while Sofia calmly took in everything around her and did everything Autobot asked her to. What a great old lady.
After a bit in the round pen, Autobot took SoSo down to the obstacle course for a look around. And SoSo acted like she'd seen that craziness (including the llama) every day of her life, so Autobot climbed back on for a few steps.
With everything going on around her, she was cool as a cucumber. There were easily 20 horses in attendance at the party, all of them doing different things, and she was completely focused on Autobot. The trainer asked if Autobot wanted to go into the arena and work some more. (Wish I had pictures of that!) SoSo did so well in the arena - with the exception of one moment of thinking she wanted to buck that Autobot got ahead of and changed her mind - that they went on a baby trail ride from the arena to the trailer.
I can't imagine getting my first real ride in an environment like that. I mean, Alloy has a lot more saddle time and still lost his mind and bucked Bill off (Bill's okay, and climbed right back up on Alloy, who found his brain by then).
We'd decided that SoSo hadn't had enough time to bond with Mom and Bill's herd, and we were worried that turning her loose on 60 acres with horses she hadn't fully bonded with was a recipe for disaster. So the plan was for her to come and winter with our herd. I was looking forward to having Autobot and SoSo around to ride with and we were all looking forward to riding on the mountain next year.
I live in Weld County, where rabies is endemic, and we have cases of it every year, so vaccination is a must. In preparation for her trip down to our place, the vet visited just two days after the HallowEquine party and gave her all of her shots, as well as did her teeth. The next morning, when Mom went out to feed, Sofia Sonador was gone. She'd had a delayed allergic reaction to the rabies vaccine and passed away in her sleep. (We had a necropsy done, as she'd shown no signs of a reaction in the two and a half hours the vet was there.)
Our hearts were broken, and many tears were shed over the little bay mare who had come into Autobot's life for such a brief period of time. However, I take comfort (and I hope Autobot does too) in the fact that SoSo was so-so incredibly loved and happy. Sofia loved living on the mountain, having a job, and she loved her girl.
Sofia Sonador and her girl
(This post wasn't meant to be a downer, but to celebrate an amazing little mare. It wouldn't be right to ignore the fact that she was a part of the herd, no matter how briefly.)
It is with a heavy heart I find myself telling you that Ranger Mustang is dead.
It looks like it was colic.
Ranger had been part of my life since just before the turn of the century. He was bought on December 28, 1999. That was the day that Clayton Moore died. Moore played the "Lone Ranger" on the old TV show, and that's how my Ranger got his name. (I thought Clayton would be a terrible name for a horse.)
The BLM guessed his birth year at 1991, but all of the vets we had "toothed" him as 3 to 5 years older. So we figure he was about 12 years old when we got him. That's pretty old to be starting an untrained horse. Particularly one that was still just about completely wild. He didn't trust people AT ALL.
It was a long haul in training. I probably learned more from him than he learned from me. I tell people that "I can't be taught, but I can be trained. There just need to be consequences." Well, if I did something he didn't understand, or just didn't like, he would consequence the hell out of me.
We did finally reach an understanding. Ranger is the only horse I have ever had talk to me. He didn't usually say much, but it was pretty obvious what he had in mind.
Last month Juanita and I took our horses down to winter pasture to run loose for a few months as we do nearly every year. It's good for the horses' attitudes having time off. We try to check on them at least once a week or so just to see how they are doing, and get our horse fix. Yesterday we went down the mountain to check on them. All of the horses ran up to see what treats we might have brought. All of the horses but one.
A short search of the pasture turned up Ranger. He was down. He appeared to have been down for quite a while, and the grass around him was scarred in a circle around him, probably from him trying to get up.
He was unable to raise his head.
I spent about 5 hours with him, while Juanita made the hour drive up to the lodge and back to get water and a turkey baster to get it into him. Juanita made the trip again for more water, other supplies, and a short bucket for Ranger to drink out of.
He couldn't raise his head.
His last words to me were "Tired. Hurts. Cold".
It has never been that hard for me to pull a trigger.
Gallop across that bridge, my friend. You were loved.
The way I feel about plumbing is known to just about every body I know. It is also known to a number of complete strangers, because I will walk up to someone I've never seen before and say, by way of introduction, "I hate plumbing."
The lodge has 5 showers, 3 claw-foot tubs, 13 toilets and about 20 sinks. And they are all old. And they all break/leak/hate me.
And now, for whatever reason we have taken on another property with another 10 showers/toilets/sinks that are even older and freeze every winter and need fixing.
I now have most of the plumbing in the cabins working, just in time to drain the water and blow out the lines for winter later this week.
I was upstairs in the lodge an hour or so ago, working on a toilet that started leaking from the tank-bowl connection, when I had a thought. Plumbing is God's punishment for us eating the apple. "Okay" he said "Now that you have eaten it, this too shall pass. And when it does, things will clog."
Back in the early '20's, Dick Isles built a handful of small cabins here in Allenspark. Several years later he later helped with the Meeker Park Lodge, owned by the Dever family. Then he built the Allenspark Lodge in '33 and '34 (then called the Isles Trading Post). I have heard he was a shop teacher, later a school administrator, who brought up high school students to work on the lodge, though I don't know about the crews on the other properties. Dick ran the properties for over 40 years before retiring.
We have been in the lodging business for over 20 years, so I can say with some authority that he must have been out of his ever-loving mind. Forty years? What was he thinking?
The original cabins that he built, named The Pine Grove Cabins, changed hands several times. The "most recent" sale was to Bob and June W., who ran the cabins for around 35 years. About 3 years ago health issues forced Bob and June to move back East to live near several of their children. They tried to run the cabins long distance, with poor results. Trees were falling and damaging the infrastructure, pipes were breaking (I hate plumbing), and the place was starting to look pretty neglected, but they still had to make all of the payments for taxes, utilities and other "stuff" that goes with owning a property. And since it was not running fully, the property wasn't going to sell quickly.
So one day, Juanita was talking to a neighbor that cleans and manages cabins in the area and they thought that we might be able to run the Pine Grove Cabins for Bob and June. She brought it up to me in such a way that I actually thought I came up with the idea. (Like most effective wives, she's good at that.)
We talked with the owners (who thought it was a great idea), got a contract, and started work.
This was mid May. And we spent MONTHS cleaning and repairing and re-furnishing the place. And fixing plumbing. I hate plumbing.
We focused on 5 of the cabins: three of the larger ones for short term rentals, and 2 of the little ones for "longer" short term rentals. The 3 larger cabins, though still fairly small, are West, Meeker, and Ehrenberg.
They have all come out pretty cute. You can see pictures on our website www.allensparklodgebnb.com under the "Cabins" menu.
It's far more work than we were looking for, but I think Mr. Isles would be proud. I still hate plumbing. Bill