Have you ever had a sore back? Not fun right? You can probably imagine that ranch horses get them too, since their back is our seat. You've heard the phrase: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Well, Wilderness Trails teaches riders that when they mount up they need to try to put themselves on a level with the horse's back. Whether it is using a log, a rock, or a fence- we try to elevate ourselves to make it easier on the horse's back when we mount up. Still, there are horses that can get sore from time to time. When we have a horse that seems tender we call in a horse chiropractor. It was amazing to watch Chiropractor Clay work! In the picture below he was working on our horse Ember. Some of the things he did may appear to be painful- but as we watched Ember he started licking and chewing after the chiropractor was done- which is a horse's way of saying: "That feels gooooood!" Ember's attitude even changed! He was less cranky and was moving better. It was a really neat thing to see, and not something you get to see everyday!
There is a concern – a sincerity and attention – involved in the way Adrienne DeLiso and Flash Corbisier speak, listen, and take photographs. They are the team behind 1881 Western Photography CO.
Both Adrienne and Flash have unique backgrounds. Adrienne’s father was a professional photographer who specialized in ballet, so photography has been a part of her life from the beginning. She herself has twenty years of experience as a professional, and if you ask her about photographing whales or other wildlife, her eyes will light up. Flash has experience as a painter, graphic designer, animator, art director, and has been shooting professional shots for almost a decade. Both of them are passionate about capturing equine culture. They appreciate the range of expression - from the roughest of cowboys to the most carefully groomed and trained horses. For the past eight years, 1881 has been specializing in equine photography. Adrienne and Flash study different riders and horses in earnest. “Horses are some of the most beautiful animals in the world,” says Adrienne with a glow. Really – these images say more than I can hope to about the quality of their work. These eight photos represent the more artistic side of what they do, but it’s just the tip of an iceberg. If you come to The Ranch, you will also get to enjoy the personalized images that they capture of you and your horse. They will get you in different moments so that you can create the perfect scrapbook of your time here riding with us. If you are as awed by their artistic images as I am, you can purchase them when you visit The Ranch or at their website: www.1881wpc.com.
Rico is a mellow Paint who gets spunky when he works cows.
Copper is a smooth ride, and he doesn’t eat much along the trails. He is responsive to leg pressure and thrives with cattle and arena work.
Pistol is sassy but responsive and easy to control.
Big Splash – named for a “splash” of white across his belly – is like a giant puppy, sweet and playful.
Hot Shot needs an experienced rider. He is a good lead horse. Everyone who rides him loves him.
Besides having the coolest haircut, Sonic is responsive, strong, and gentle.
Ali Fischer will liven up any ride with her burbling laugh. She got her first horse – a chestnut Gelding with a white blaze – when she was ten. His name was Comanche. When she says that riding is “just a hobby” for her, I remember the deep shimmer in her eyes when she described Comanche and think there may be other words in her. Regardless of the language used, Ali has an interest in being out at the barn as a wrangler. Her favorite thing about riding is the rush of galloping; “no surprise there,” I tease her when she tells me this. She enjoys the trails out here and the opportunity to help other people learn.
Smokey, a Gelding, has smooth gaits, especially his trots. He can be a bit of a trickster with the wranglers; he enjoys pulling the radios off their belts and knocking off their hats. He is playful, but sweet and reliable with a compassionate temperament.
The sisters Belle and Button are said to be part unicorn, and Belle’s mane certainly suggests magic. Both are super sweet and gentle.
Sideburns is an excellent cow horse. He is mellow and athletic – meaning he is still responsive even at a fast pace, and he has good endurance. He is a favorite among the wranglers because his long back makes him a velvety ride.
Austin is strong and requires an experienced Western rider (no tight English reigns for this guy). Those that can match him find him to be a super, fun ride; he's surefooted.
Drifter is known for his creamy-smooth gaits. He even has a nice running-walk. Those that ride him compare the experience to gliding on water.
Jenni Darlow exudes strength and grace as she stands in a meadow that sweeps into distant peaks. It is a prime spot to enjoy “the view down the valley” – one of the things that keeps her coming back. This is her tenth season as an employee here at The Ranch, but she has actually been coming here since she was a nine-year-old girl – proud of her white, fringed boots. In fact, it was The Ranch that got her riding and keeps her riding. The “feel of the place,” her relationship with the Roberts’ family and other wranglers, and the connection she has with the horses keep her coming back to this valley. She teaches dance lessons, works with kids, and, of course, wrangles. The rest of the year she teaches math in Durango, so she knows this area. Standing in the meadow in her cowboy hat and pink-checkered shirt, Jenni is at ease; she is clearly home.
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.
The community at Wilderness Trails Ranch is truly a rich one – with chefs, artists, a massage therapist, dogs, melodic birds – the list could go on. Of course, most visitors to our ranch are eager to meet our horses and wranglers, and they are a lovely crew. To this aim, each week from now until the end of July six horses and one wrangler will be featured here on our blog.
Rick and Red, our gentle giants, are Belgian Draft Horses. They have been with The Ranch for ten years and team up to provide our weekly hayrides. Being in their presence inspires awe, and the opportunity to benefit from their considerable strength and grace during the hayride is a highlight for many. They are also our resident stars as they have been featured in several movies.
Ember was born on The Ranch in 2002, the year of the fire – hence his name. Ember, a Morgan Quarter Horse, is super gentle and playful - ideal for beginning riders to help them build confidence and develop a deeper sense of joy while riding.
Tigger is a favorite among guests because he is highly responsive. He is a perfect fit for people with riding experience. Tigger was born on The Ranch and was Lance Robert’s private horse for many years. The evidence of his loving training is evident to those who ride him. He is a Quarter Appaloosa Horse and has half-brothers who also live with us here at The Ranch.
Lenita, a Paint Mare, requires a confident rider. For those looking to build a relationship that requires more attention, Lenita provides a more complex riding experience. She is appreciated by our wranglers because she calmly walks to and waits in her stall each morning. Lenita was born here at The Ranch and is known for her lasting love for Sideburns, another one of our horses.
Willa’s eyes will tell you how kind she is, and, indeed, this Percheron Quarter Horse mix is a favorite. She is highly responsive and enjoyed both by beginning riders looking to build confidence and experienced riders who want to enjoy a week of ease. Her strawberry-roan coloring is unique, and those that ride her may find themselves enchanted.
“I don’t remember learning to ride” smiles Kathryn Forynski as she watches the horses graze. An unsurprising comment considering that Kathryn’s mother first took her up into the saddle when she was only four-days old. Kathryn grew up riding Arabians in Bedfordshire, England where she was also an event rider in cross country, jumping, and dressage. She will tell you about it – with her customary reserved sweetness – if you ask. Kathryn has been with The Ranch since 2008, and she greatly enjoys the relaxed approach of Western riders. She respects the gentle power of horses, and the feeling of oneness that often arises while riding ties her heart to them even further. Part of what keeps Kathryn coming back is the trail riding; “There’s always something new to notice” she says. And she’s keeping her eyes open for elk shed because she wants a pair of antlers to paint pink and hang on her wall.
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
Join us at the ranch, the week of August 19th, 2012! It's a lot more than spectacular horseback riding, especially this week!
On Monday August 20th we are going to Durango for the start of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge! Wow, how exciting to be part of this international event!
Don't forget we do have incredible mountain biking at and surrounding the ranch too. From mild to wild, come "ride the ridges" with WTR mountain bikes or bring your own!
If you want to ride hard, ride often, ride slow or ride relaxed either on a horse or on a bike, well, "you got it, dude"!
Of course you can always enjoy the same daily incredible horseback riding, from cattle work to incredibly beautiful half or full days rides in the largest wilderness region in the mainland United States!
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?