Paden is tough and he pays attention with quiet concentration – so I don’t recommend messing with him. He has been coming out to The Ranch since he was a baby, and this summer, at the ripe age of ten, he is helping to take care of the horses out at the barn. “What do you like about being here?” I ask. Paden takes a moment to consider the question before he answers, “I like how the ranch is so fun. I like meeting new people. I like all the fun stuff I get to do.” In terms of riding, his favorite thing is “enjoying the ride and the pretty country.” Paden has ridden calves and steers in rodeos too, but it isn’t the main thing that makes him a cowboy. No, the main thing that makes him a cowboy is his heart; he’s got that grounded gentleness about him that only the truest and best cowboys have.
Splash, Sport, and Gidget have been known to vanish into their sizable grazing area like giggling children – a bit to the dismay of our wranglers. But what can we do? They’re buddies. Splash is an Appaloosa. He is a fantastic kids' horse, slow and steady. Sport is also an ideal kids’ horse; he instinctively knows to be mellow with young kids especially. He is a little, white pony – small and spunky. Gidget, too, is a favorite with kids; in fact, there is a whole file in our office of valentines addressed to Gidget from some of her past riders.
Colonel is a Quarter Horse, steady and solid. His chestnut hair has been adding its hue to The Ranch for eight years. He is calm, surefooted, and easygoing. Colonel is perfect to help riders build confidence.
Our aptly named Preacher is majestic and gentle. He is a Percheron Quarter Horse mix and has a bit of a spark beneath his relaxed demeanor. He is so deeply black and big he looks like a piece of night sky. A few years ago, Preacher was the groom’s horse for a horseback wedding.
Juice, a Sorrel Gelding, is a wonderful kid and teen horse because he is well-behaved. He is a sweet boy and a pleasure to ride, especially at a trout or canter. He has polite ground manners too.
We often think of cowboys as riding off into the sunset; maybe it’s because true cowboys burn with a comparable flame. Nathan Brown certainly blazes with light from the soft amber of his eyes down to the sunshine that flashes from his spurs. But Nathan is more solid than a metaphor, and his commitment to being a cowboy is deeper than an image from a movie. If you ask him why he became a cowboy, he can’t answer you – it is, quite simply, what he is. Although he insists that being a cowboy means “a journey of learning,” and he does not claim to have arrived – nah, he’s having too much fun with the gettin’ there. He grew up riding in Eastern New Mexico and pursuing the facets of this lifestyle is his ambition. The benefits of his focus are obvious – he knows how to ride, rope, shoe horses, and brand – he is a craftsman of bits, spurs, buckles, moccasins, gun handles, medicine pouches, holsters, chaps, and more – he sketches landscapes, horses, and portraits – he is, in short, engaged with every aspect imaginable in his pursuit of excellence within this realm. Nathan is also a rodeo bronc rider, has worked on a number of big ranches throughout the West, and travels with his two superb horses – Cosby and Ben.
At Wilderness Trails Ranch we not only offer a youth program but make kids so happy that they come back generation after generation.
It is not uncommon to have a family that the parents first visited when they were just a minute tall.
Do you have a Pony Express Kid? What is a Pony Express Kid? Our renowned Pony Express Youth program is specifically designed for children ages 3-5. Yes, that is correct. We cater to even to littlest of folks!
What does the Pony Express Group do every day from 9am to 4pm? What don't they do is more appropriate. Every day Monday through Friday is filled with lots of fresh air, fishing at the rainbow trout stocked ponds, hiking, bicycle races, picnics, nature awareness of land, livestock and wildlife, crafts, adventures in "The Enchanted Forest" and at the "The Fort" and of course a pony ride twice a day - so "they have their own horse too". These little people will be showing off their new horsemanship skills alongside the big kids at the Friday afternoon WTR Rodeo, a real family treat complete with rodeo clowns.
Don't wait if you have a 3-5 year old. Call now to book your week at the ranch and save big if you are booking the weeks of June 10th, June 24th or July 8th. Call the office for more details and stay tuned for upcoming information on our Saddle Tramps, Bandits and Posse youth programs. This is a limited time offer!
Hello "Gidget Fan Club"... Thank you again for a bushel of Valentines for Gidget!
In the winter the horses are pastured on the mesa south of Durango. Of course they are enjoying the warm, kind of mild winter and getting a bit chubby.
As I walk towards Gidget (the most famous horse of them all) with a hand full of valentines, she seems to know I am coming to talk to her specifically. I am pretty sure she knows she is the star of "every child's horse dreams".
Gidget has been treating children to an outstanding week of horseback riding for many years.
Valentine's day is a big day for Gidget, as we read valentine after valentine. She bows her head to listen and is simply such a real sweetheart!
There are some horses you know love the children... Our Gidget is one of those amazing horses.
We are looking forward to another season.
Locals don't forget to reserve your spot at this year's youth camp, booking up quickly...
Youth Camp starts June 11th, 2012. Call for details. (970) 247-0722
The SNOWDOWN winter celebration in Durango is now in full-swing. This year's theme is "Once Upon a Snowdown" and is intended to promote costumes, games, parties, a parade, and many fun activities relating to "fairy tales" and is to help with the "Cabin Fever" syndrome that tends to infiltrate the community during the winter season. Perhaps it could be aptly called "The Winter Blues" for some, but not us!
We truly do love and appreciate the snow, partly because all of us ski or snowboard. And incidentally, our grandson Aksel, now age 3, is becoming an avid skier already! I'ts amazing to see how quickly he has learned and it won't be long before he'll be out-skiing the whole family!
But mainly the snow is needed to produce water for the summer. The rivers, lakes, and reservoirs require tremendous amounts of water to sustain our area, so we are blessed when the snow accumulates and is stored in the high mountains surrounding our magnificently beautiful area. Winters are truly spectacular here!
This brings to mind, a poem that I wrote for the WTR 2010 newsletter, which does not relate to the winter doldrums but instead to a "Once Upon a Time" story for our family. I did actually write it during the winter however , so certainly my thoughts were on reopening the ranch for the coming season.
Once upon a time....
It was actually in the late fall of 1969.
Could this really be?
Gene and Jan bringing our search to reality.
A ranch in the mountains, next to a stream,
To have horses and guests, that was our dream.
Wilderness Trails was the property's name,
the ideal place for us to stake our claim.
What a learning experience was year number one,
ending with Lance's birth, just like a home run!
We struggled through issues we didn't expect:
financial challenges, repairs, marketing, but what the heck!
We landed and lived in the most beautiful place
with no noise or pollution and miles of open space.
The next member of our family, a beautiful girl,
more love and joy into our lives, Erika, what a thrill.
Randy would spend summers to learn what he could
about horses and packing as any young cowboy would.
In traveling this path for more than 40 years,
We've had to adjust and often change gears.
Fires, drought, 9/11, gas rations, economy dips,
stock market drops and folks not taking trips.
Our family we've raised in this corner of the west
to believe that our heritage and hard work is best.
Believe in your goals, have respect and be fair.
The privilege of being here is humbling and rare.
How blessed we are to be able to share
our ranch, horses and valley with others who care
about the clear air and water, plus incredible nights
with the bright stars that glisten when we turn off the lights.
Our hearts and our souls are wrapped up in this place.
This way of life, we have truly embraced.
Although we've been through some blood, sweat and tears,
our passion will continue throughout the upcoming years.
So now we begin the next decade, with the same
resolve to learn, improve, evaluate and remain
in this valley we've called home year in and year out,
Love for our family, friends, guests, staff, land and horses---
This is what our life is about.
"And they lived happily ever after!"
See you this coming summer.....
Jan and Gene Roberts
As many of you remember we collected suggestions to name our filly (baby girl horse).
She was such a cutie running around the front pasture, getting all the attention and hanging out with Pepper, Piper, Chica and her mom!
By the way to clarify a foal is a baby horse, a filly is a girl and a colt is a boy!
Anyway we had such a darn hard time trying to pick a name for this cutie! So, we came up with a plan!
We thought to ourselves, what can we do? Oh cool, we'll get our friends and guests involved!
We narrowed it down to "children's entries only" (our WTR kiddos) and then put them in a hat and pulled out 14 names.
Here is where we need your help. Now until November 30th, we would like for you to email, facebook or call with your vote on the name to choose from the list below. That name with the most votes will win and we will crown our little girl (now not so little) with her new name.
We will announce the name the foal on December 2nd, 2012!
Names pulled from the hat (Gene's hat of course!) are:
Cora Gaelic, Wild Flower, Chica, Raven, Moonbeam, Shadow, Pina (pronounced pine-a), Cocoa, Kitten, Sunshine, Lae-Lee, Maddie, Chloe and Dixie Doodle
So there you have it. Please email, fax, phone or facebook and let us know your vote!
Of course children are encouraged to participate in this event! So what shall her name be?
Today is Halloween, and as everyone knows it's the day when the kids dress up as Cowboys and Cowgirls, Super Heroes, Ghosts, Goblins and everything in between and it's really "their day"! Well, at WTR it's kids day (and even kids at heart) every day during family weeks. As we look at photos of this past 2011 summer season we think back on just how much the kiddos add to our ranch days with joy and laughter and how at WTR we don't need Halloween to dress up!
Take a peek at a couple kids having fun at WTR!
Kids and horses- they sure make you smile!
Happy Halloween to all you WTR kids! Have a Fun and Safe time!
There is no shortage of fun to be had for kids visiting the ranch. It was a wonderful week full of all sorts of exciting adventures for our pint sized guests.
Emily & Jack mounting up for the excitement to begin...
Sisters Scout & Alli were spectacular cowgirls & even gave love to each other's horse.
Cowgirl Emily loved horseback riding on her horse Cody, and was very knowledgable about animals.
Riding is one of the biggest attractions at our ranch, because it gives the kids a chance to be real cowboys/girls while they are here.
Despite the tenderness of their years, the kids even got to participate in a cattle drive. They pushed cattle like pros.
On pioneer day the kids got to paint their faces, create headresses like Native Americans & hike out to the ranch tepee to shoot bows & arrows.
The cowkids also took part in a rodeo- where a lot of playfulness and friendly competition ensued
The Donut Relay Race was a ranch hit this week- Alli & Jack are battling it out to see who gets the donut and back on their horse first.
Scout was an expert polebender in the rodeo!
While her sister roped like a dude ranch champ!
I wish I could go back in time and come back to the ranch as a kid! They have a blast here!
Thank you to 1881 Western Photography for the amazing pictures! They really captured the week at Wilderness Trails Ranch well!
Johnathon and Aubrey Sammons returned to the ranch after a few years hiatus. Johnathon worked at Wilderness Trails Dude Ranch for 14 years. He even met his lovely wife here. This time, rather than working, he was enjoying a family vacation with his wife and two beautiful little girls Julia and Gigi. They enjoyed the dancing....
And even the littlest Sammons cowgirled up!
Johnathon was a jack-of-all-trades while here, and even fell back on old habits during his stay. Including leading the ranch campfire sing-a-long!
He has been sharing his musicality with his children, because "Tom the Toad" came out for a another sing-a-long- this time accompanied by the young Sammons!
He also imparted some of his knowledge- or something-to some of our younger employees
And I think Grandma Jan may need a little girl grandchild after spending time painting Gigi's nails.
So GREAT to have you back at the ranch again! Safe travels, and we hope to see you again soon!
There is a lot of fun to be had at our Thursday night dance! We have live music, line dancing, and more! This week the kids had such a great time kids' counselor Kani had to drag them off the dance floor!
Just kidding! This was a game Roberts' grandchild Aksel started.... not sure WHY it was so much fun for the kids, but they were all laughing hysterically and having a blast. :-)
The music was so good, that even Terry M. got up to dance - for the first time in 20 years!?! Look at that smile!