Don’t Squat With Yer Spurs On Or Other Places

Danielle taking the horses back to the field after a long day on the trail.


Some of our guests ask, and many more wonder in anxious silence, “How do I answer the call of nature while on a trail ride?” Here are a few tips from a seasoned trail guide and trail rider.

 
#1 Go before you leave. Remember that time when you were a kid, headed out on a road trip with the family, only minutes after departing and you declare “I gotta go!” Likely Dad’s response was, “Why didn’t you go before we left?” This is a good scenario to learn from when preparing to head out on a long trail ride.
 
#2 When nature calls, don’t answer it. Put nature on hold until the ride is over.
 
#3 Sometimes you just can’t put nature on hold. Believe me I know. I spent one summer guiding trail rides while pregnant and the call of nature was just NOT going to wait.  In this situation, choose a nice secluded spot with lots of brushy coverage. You don’t want your fellow riders to see more of nature than they were expecting. For those of you riding in those un-natural places without trees, good luck to you!
 
#4 Choose a spot carefully. Don’t make the rookie mistake of leaving the trail you’re on only to find that you are relieving yourself in another trail…with other riders coming up the trail behind you.  Becoming the butt of wrangler jokes for years to come, and inadvertently christening said trail with its new name, Full Moon Trail, probably isn’t on your vacation bucket list. True story.
 
#5 Leave your horse with your guide or tied to a tree.  You don’t need your mighty steed getting …well…nosy.
 
#6 Bury it. This might be getting just a little too personal, but learn from the boy scouts and bury it.
 
#7 “How do I bury it? It’s not like I have a boy scout along with his little collapsible shovel and all.”  Well I don’t know, get creative!
 
#8 Don’t use the “toilet paper” you think nature has provided for you. It’s just not going to end well.  That leafy green may look as soft as Charmin but likely it will leave you wishin’ you weren’t a itchin’.
 
#9 And last but not least, don’t squat with yer spurs on.
Saddling up and heading out on horseback, whether it is for an hour or for a week, is something I look forward to rain or shine.  Sharing that experience with someone else makes it even better. Now you can join me on the trail just a little more prepared for your next horseback adventure into the woods.

Danielle enjoying a view of the fall colors on her horse JR.


This blog is written and maintained by Danielle Otis, one of the wranglers (one job title among many) at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.  It is a collection of tales and stories related to the ranch that come straight “from the horse’s mouth”.



 

Goodbye Old Friend

Today is a day I have dreaded. I have known for many years that today would come, but I have always hoped we could put it off just a little bit longer. Today I said goodbye to my old friend.
JR Chicka Do was my big, palomino, Quarter Horse gelding and he was Just Right. He was mine for 18 years. When I think of my childhood, JR is in every part of it. In fact, he was there as I navigated all of my adolescent and young adult years. We spent a couple awkward years in Pony Club , all of my 11 years of 4-H and years of teaching other 4-H ers and other horse crazy kids. I spent hundreds of hours and countless horse shows on the back of that big blonde horse. JR saw other horses come and go, he was part of my wedding, he took my daughter for her first ride, her first horse show and taught her to lope just this summer.
Twelve years ago JR was diagnosed with Navicular Disease.  We have worked to put off this day since that time. Because of the great work of John Fuller, our farrier, JR spent most of those years pain free and sound. As Fall approached, it became obvious that we could no longer maintain him pain free.
JR goes on to wait for me in heaven today. I was blessed to have the many years with him that I have had and I will forever be thankful for him. JR was practically perfect in every way. He was my teacher, partner, student, friend and great source of joy. Daddy, thank you for letting me steal your horse from you all those years ago.
Goodbye Old Friend…

A Fall Ride on the Moose Mountain Trail

Blacktail Lake
On the trail to Blacktail Lake
The Moose Mountain Loop Trail is an approximately 9 mile, round trip trail that takes you past two great mountain lakes.  This is a great horseback ride or hike. I rode this trail with my parents; Roley and Janice, my brother and sister-in-law; Isaac and Libby, and my two kids; Emily (4) and Gabe (2) on August 27, 2014.  Gabe rode in front of me and Emily rode behind Libby as neither of them are ready to ride their own horse on this sort of trail.
We drove to the trail head and unloaded our crew of 5 horses and 7 people. The trail head has a large parking lot with enough room for our 4 horse, goose-neck trailer and several other cars.  We headed out and followed the trail markers to Blacktail lake. This first part of the trail is a moderate climb with several long stretches of boardwalk.  Blacktail is a smaller lake but still beautiful.  We took our lunch break here and the kids had fun catching tadpoles and baby frogs until Gabe fell in.  We started a fire to dry off his clothes and keep the half naked toddler warm.  There are a couple primitive campsites here and plenty of grazing space that would make for an excellent spot for the horses to stay overnight.
Gabe, just after going for an
unplanned swim
Our lunch spot and campfire
To continue on our loop, we followed Trail 213 to Moose Mountain.  The trail levels out after the first short climb and is a very pretty ride through the high mountain trees.  As you approach the summit of Moose Mountain the trail get steeper and rockier. With Gabe riding in front of me, it was still not too difficult. Riding the ridge up to the summit offers some great view of both Blacktail Lake and Moose Lake.  The ridge narrows as you reach the top and I have to admit that last switchback made me thank God I was riding a great horse (I have a good healthy fear of steep drop-offs).  As you come down off the summit, the ridge begins to widen and offer some beautiful eastern views. At this point in our ride, Gabe and I dismounted and mom led my horse.  First of all, riding down hill with a two year old in front of you is not so easy and second of all that awesome horse I was thanking God for, is a bit mutton-withered and I would be riding on her ears by the time I got to the bottom.
Views coming off Moose Mountain
 As you continue on the ridge begins to narrow again and you come to what looks like (from the back of the line and on foot) a dead end, but no! The trail drops off sharply to the left.  This is where it gets a little western.  Everyone dismounted here and Isaac led the way on foot leading his horse.  Here the trail is a very steep, narrow side hill with a single switchback. We all turned our horses loose to follow Isaac down the trail while we scrambled down after on foot.  After this interesting descent everyone re-mounted, except Gabe and I (remember my mutton-withered horse) and the trail continues with a moderate descent through the trees into Moose Lake. I was able to start riding again about a quarter mile from the lake.  Moose Lake is about three times bigger that Blacktail Lake and has more primitive camping and fishing opportunities.  The trail wraps around the lake and heads back out the nearly two miles to the trail head.
Little Horse looking at
Moose Lake
Dad and Pepsi on one of
the many boardwalks
About a mile out from Moose Lake, on the way back to the trail head, one of the bridges crossing a creek was broken in the middle and lay in the creek bed. It looked as if it had happened recently and my bet is that the Forest Service will have it repaired soon as this is a high traffic trail.  We were able to get around the fallen bridge easily enough.  Dad and Isaac rode and us ladies (plus Gabe) led our horses across.
The broken bridge
Almost back to the trailhead
This was a really great family ride with beautiful views, great horses, not so great fishing.  This would also make a great day hike or overnight trip.  I would not suggest taking small children on this ride unless they ride frequently and a hardy in the saddle.  I was so proud of my little ones as they never got scared or tired.  As we were leaving Moose Lake we told Gabe that we were headed back to the trailer and he started crying and said he wanted to keep riding.  Oh and he wanted me to get off his horse!
Wylie and Blacktail Lake
*As a side note, this is not a ride that we take our guests on as we do not have permits to outfit in this area.  This was just a fun ride that we went on as a family and I though you might like to hear about our adventures in North Idaho.

For more information on trail riding at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, visit:  www.westernpleasureranch.com

Cross Country Skiing

As the colors of fall fade away and winter threatens to cover the North Idaho landscape once again (winter storm warning beginning tonight at 5pm), I find myself looking forward to winter a bit more this year.  Usually, I dread the icy chill of winter.  Sure, I enjoy the frosty charm for about a month, but after that I am ready for spring to come again. However, this year is a little different.  This year I have cross-country skis.

This will be the third winter that Western Pleasure Guest Ranch has been offering groomed cross country skiing. Each year the number of groomed trail kilometers grows.  This year we plan on having over 10k of groomed trails.  I am extremely excited to enjoy these miles of scenic trails all winter, while gliding along on my new skis. It took me a couple years to decide to buy skis.  I had been renting from the Tauber Angus Nordic Center just down the road from us.  They also have several miles of trails to enjoy.

Prices are as follows:

Daily pass:

  • Adults – $10
  •  kids (ages 6-12) – $5
  • kids ( ages 5 and under) – free
  • Free to those staying in one of our lodge rooms or log cabins
Season pass:
  • Adults – $65
  • Kids (ages 6-12) – $32
I hope to see you this winter along the trails at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch!
(208) 263-9066

The Bigger the Horse the Bigger the Heart

Amos and Andy were the best team of Percheron draft horses a person could ever hope to have. Amos was the motivated half of the team and Andy would rather just eat hay. They knew their job and they did it well. They taught all of us here at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch how to drive a team.

We lost Amos a few years ago at the ripe old age of 28. Andy is enjoying retirement and is currently the oldest horse on the ranch at 30 years young.

Andy misses Amos, his life long working partner, but has adjusted to life without Amos. In the winter, Andy has a private stall and run with a special diet of equine senior and hay pellets. In the summer, he has a part time job  babysitting the youngsters in one of our green pastures.

Andy loves any special attention he can get, especially if it involves a treat. So when you stop by the ranch be sure to find Andy and give him a scratch and a treat. Just make sure it’s a soft treat, he’s an old man and doesn’t have many teeth left.

Emily giving Andy a little love.
Andy- 30 years old and on a diet of grain and hay pellets and looking pretty good.
Andy enjoying some down time in his winter pen.
A memorial to Amos and Andy in the hallway at the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch lodge.
The Bigger the Horse the Bigger the Heart.

Has winter returned to North Idaho?

Has winter returned to north Idaho? When I awoke this morning I was greeted by a cheery landscape of white! Yes, several inches of snow had fallen overnight. I have to admit that I was not especially pleased to see snow on an April morning, but it was very beautiful. These photos show the view from our front steps this morning. Emily even got in one last snow angel before it melted away. Yes, I am happy to report that the snow is quickly melting away to reveal that beautiful North Idaho spring.

Has winter returned to Western Pleasure Guest Ranch?

My Little Cowgirl

We had some fantastic early spring weather here at the ranch and we spent every moment we could outside soaking in that vitamin D.  The April showers have since arrived, but I thought I would share with you one of Emily’s favorite activities during those warm, sunny days.  I have to say I am pretty proud of my little three year old cowgirl.  She rode my good ol’ boy, JR, and one of the ranch horses, Honey, all by her self.  She was very confident in her ability to ride her horse all by herself.  “Mama, will you leave the arena? I want to do it all by myself!” She learned how to steer and kick to make the horse go forward. She trotted like her uncle Isaac (complete with an attempt to post) and announced that she wanted “to lope like my aunt Libby!” No, I didn’t let her lope. I am looking forward to the time we will spend together with our horses this summer!
Emily riding JR
Emily riding Honey, and me riding Little Horse.  Emily has laid claim to Little Horse.

My Little Cowgirl trotting along
More trotting
Gabe even got in on the fun! He was all smiles and giggles as he went for his ride.
At the end of the day, a cowgirl always takes care of her horse.

Winter Horse Therapy

Winter is slowly loosening its icy grip on us here at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch and I am suffering from some serious cabin fever symptoms.  So today, I left the kids with mom for a couple hours so I could go outside for some winter horse therapy.

JR = Practically Perfect in Every Way

Of the many horses here on the ranch, three of them are my very own.  I have JR, my 21 year old Quarter Horse who is practically perfect in every way and has been my partner, teacher, student and friend for 17 years.  Little Horse is a 15ish year old POA mare and Zeus is her yearling POA/Appaloosa colt.

Little Horse = Nervous Nelly

I headed to the barn and caught Little Horse and JR to groom away some of that winter hair.  Little Horse is always a bit of a nervous Nelly when she’s tied in the barn, so she danced around while JR stood quietly enjoying the brushing and scratches I was giving him.  While some may consider getting covered in pounds of white horse
hair a pain, I consider the time spent in the barn brushing away those winter coats to be very therapeutic.

JR Thinks spring is coming!
Little Horse doesn’t think spring is coming very soon.

After JR and Little Horse were brushed out, I turned them back out and got a little show from them and their young pen-mates. Even my gimpy old man got in on the fun.

Little Horse showing the youngsters who’s boss.
JR watching the show.

Running and playing
Don’t mess with the head man.

Little Horse coming to say hello.

Then I went and visited Zeus at the little horse barn.  A winter of very little attention from me has caused him to be a bit jumpy and stand-offish. He is coming around however as he has discovered that I can scratch and rub away that winter hair in places that he just can’t reach to scratch.

Zeus = Son of nervous Nelly, Mr. “Not so sure I want you to touch me.”

“Hey, whats going on back there?” I love those Appy spots!

It was very refreshing spending an hour with my fuzzy ponies.  There is a quote by Winston Churchill which I think is very true: There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.  ~Winston Churchill

I’m dreaming of a white Christma…..wait…what?!

I woke up this morning and looked out my window to find that our little piece of paradise was once again wrapped in a blanket of fluffy white snow.  It’s the perfect Christmas postcard scene here in North Idaho. 
Now, I have to admit that I was beginning to decide that spring was going to come a little bit early this year.  Yes, I believed the little rodent that popped his fuzzy little head out of his hole on February second and didn’t see his shadow.  “Hurray!”,  I thought.  Spring was coming early!  My main motivation for being super excited about the idea of spring arriving early was, of course, horseback riding. 
When winter moves into Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, the sleighs also move into our indoor arena.  That means no riding until sleigh rides are finished for the winter season.  I am usually the one looking most forward to the snow retreating and the sleighs going into storage so I can get back to riding in the arena.
So, for those snow enthusiasts; you can still glide on a one (or two) horse open sleigh through a winter wonderland here in the northernmost parts of Idaho.
Did you know that we have almost 10 miles of groomed Nordic ski trails? It’s true.  The cross country ski trails are groomed and ready for classic, skate skiing or snow shoeing as well.  The views along the trails are breathtaking and it’s a fun way to get a little workout.  This winter sport is about to win me over as a winter lover.
Spring has not yet sprung at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, but the joys and comforts of winter are still to be had.  And now, I think I will cozy up by the fire, eat some popcorn and sip a cup of steaming hot chocolate.

Dodge Super Bowl Commercial: So God Made a Farmer

I am one of those people whose favorite part of the Super Bowl is the commercials…and the food. My favorite commercial this year was the Dodge, Tribute to Farmers by Paul Harvey.  A midst a flood of sex and half naked women, this commercial was a breath of fresh air that brought us back to our roots. The following is the transcript, as read by the great Paul Harvey. Enjoy and the next time you see a farmer, remember to thank him for the countless hours of hard work, blood, sweat and tears he has sacrificed to bring you the many comforts you enjoy today.

“And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker!”. So, God made a farmer!

God said I need somebody to get up before dawn and milk cows and work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board. So, God made a farmer!
`

I need somebody with strong arms. Strong enough to rustle a calf, yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry and have to wait for lunch until his wife is done feeding and visiting with the ladies and telling them to be sure to come back real soon…and mean it. So, God made a farmer!

God said “I need somebody that can shape an ax handle, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And…who, at planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon. Then, pain’n from “tractor back”, put in another seventy two hours. So, God made a farmer!

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop on mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So, God made a farmer!

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees, heave bails and yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink combed pullets…and who will stop his mower for an hour to mend the broken leg of a meadow lark. So, God made a farmer!

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight…and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed…and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self feeder and then finish a hard days work with a five mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who’d laugh and then sigh…and then respond with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”. So, God made a farmer!”
-Paul Harvey


Click HERE view the full Dodge commercial


Western Pleasure Guest Ranch