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!
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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

2013 Dude Ranchers’ Association Convention

Well I have just returned from the 2013 Dude Ranchers’ Convention at the Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona.  My parents (Roley and Janice) were good enough to take the whole family along with them to this annual convention.
 It was great to see some new scenery as we traveled north from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon was, of course, spectacular.  However I would suggest that when you plan your next visit, make sure you don’t have a massive head cold like I did.  Here was my thought process: “Oh that’s really pretty! Wow, get a picture! Ok, I am going to go sleep in the back of our massive 12 passenger van now.” Speaking of our van.  Because we had the whole crew (Mom, Dad, Me, Landon, Emily, Gabe, Isaac, and Libby), we couldn’t fit in a normal rental car so we ended up renting this giant 12-passenger van. It was not the sportiest ride but it was really quite comfortable.  We named it the Queen Mary.  Dad suggested the Titanic, but we decided that name might start our trip off on the wrong foot. 
After the Grand Canyon, we headed south again to Sedona; a beautiful country full of red rock.  Then we headed up over the mountains on our way to Wickenburg.  On our way  up and down the twisted Highway 89, (seriously, when you look at this road on a map it looks like someone planted multiple corkscrews in the road) we found the city of Jerome. This was a booming copper mining town who’s population peaked at 15,000 in the1920’s, but is now a whopping 450 people. The craziest thing about this town is its location.  It is literally built on the side of a hill that you wouldn’t want to walk your mule across let alone build a whole town on!  They are proud to be America’s most vertical town.  The town is built on a series of switchbacks where front doors literally open onto Highway 89.  So for an interesting drive, I suggest you grab the Dramamine and explore the quaint town of Jerome, Arizona.
The Dude Ranchers’ Association convention was held at the resort ranch, Rancho de los Caballeros.  They have a beautiful facility and do an excellent job of serving their guests.  I was ready to take the king sized bed home with me when we left because it was so heavenly. 
We also had the opportunity to take part in a little friendly Team Penning competition.  For those of you who don’t know how it works here’s a quick run down.  About 8 cows are all on one end of the arena and a small pen is on the other end.  Four team members ride toward the cows, cut three out, and herd them down to the small pen.  This is a timed event, so the faster you move these cows, the better.  I was quite proud of our team because we placed 3rd out of nine teams and, I must say, we actually followed the rules; unlike certain other teams.
I really love attending conventions like this because between the speakers and the vendors you get some great inspiration on how you can give your guests an even better ranch experience.  It is also very encouraging to see the many ways we are doing things right for our guests here at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.
Please enjoy these photos from our tour of Arizona.
+Landon Otis at the Grand Canyon

Sedona, Arizona

Waiting our turn for Team Penning at the Rancho de los Caballeros

On deck for Team Penning
Western Pleasure Guest Ranch
Sandpoint, Idaho
@Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

Gift Shop Goods

Can you believe that it is now less than two months before Christmas arrives?! I noticed, the other day, someone had made this same statement on their Facebook page and I had to read it a few more times before it really sunk in.  Crimany where did 2012 go?  I think the moment you start having children time starts speeding up.  But nevertheless, Christmas is now 57 days away and that means time to start thinking about Christmas shopping. To get you started, here is a sampling of what we have in the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch Gift Shop.

Libby’s Lids: Hats and Headbands are now in!
These are SO adorable.

 Necklaces and Hand Painted Christmas Ornaments

 Cowboy hats, Cadet hats and Western Bling Purses
 Sweatshirts and t-shirts
Stop by and check it all out.
(888)863-9066

Songs From the Ranch (By Way of Nashville)

Remember those songs that we played around the campfire at the ranch?  We are excited to share with you our newest project here at the ranch. Those great campfire songs, the ones you just can’t forget like Tulip the Goat, Sheriff Ron, Amos and Andy and nine others, will be produced by Brad and recorded in Nashville! 

 A CD with 12 original songs written by the crew here at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch will be recorded only if we are able to raise the funds and there is only 29 days left.  So head over to www.bradyunek.com to see how you can help. Please take this opportunity to partner with us in this great project.  Help us out and you will get a little something as well.  Remember to head over to www.bradyunek.comand see how you can help and what you will receive in return!

A Day in the Life of a Ranch Babe

Have you ever wondered what goes on at a North Idaho guest ranch during the unpredictable month of March? Through rain, snow, hail or sunshine, the ranch-hands continue their work on the ranch. Follow Emily through her day and learn just what a ranch babe does to help the ranch prepare for spring.

Emily starts the day out by helping Grandma to make beds in the guest rooms.  She makes sure the quilts are  on exactly the way she wants.
The ladies who come for quilting retreats need some help too.  Emily loves to help them sew.

Next, its time to head to the barn to ride horses.  This time of year, everyone is riding horses to prepare them for the summer guest ranch season and the young horses are getting a refresher course.  All the action takes place in the indoor arena because everywhere else is covered in snow, ice or mud.  Emily likes to supervise the riders, dogs, and cats from the hay stack.
The horses stand in the alley, waiting patiently to be ridden.  This is Chance sporting Emily’s saddle. Yes, that’s a big horse (16.2+ hh) and yes that’s a tiny saddle (8″ seat).

When she is not supervising or riding, Emily is just outside the barn checking the mud levels.  
All that work tuckers a girl out! After a quick lunch break, Emily is ready for a nap.  Anywhere will do, even the kitchen counter is a good spot to catch some z’s.

After lunch, the sun is out so its back to the haystack to supervise the cat and soak up some much needed vitamin D.
Now its Emily’s turn to ride! She loves to ride with grandma and tell the horse exactly what to do.  “Walk, trot, whoooooooaaaaaaaahhhhhhh, walk, whoooooooaaaaaaaahhhhh, trot”,  she tells Blue.

Blue is nice, but Chance is warm and comfy.  There is no better place to rest your head.

By the end of the day, this ranch babe is worn out.  A bag full of horse blankets in the tack room makes a nice place to rest.