Star

As another group of quilters pile into the lodge for a long weekend of non-stop quilting, Star assumes her position in the middle of the Great Room floor. She knows that it is her job to care for, entertain, and act as tour guide for the weekend.

When I was nine years old, my dad and I headed out to the far off town of Coeur d’ Alene in search of a new puppy. We arrived at the home of the owner of two litters of puppies. One tiny fluff ball was outside of the kennel and I immediately scooped her up into my arms. The tiny puppy cuddled into my arms, happy to remain there as long as possible. I socialized with the 14 or so other puppies but that first little female Border Collie had stolen my heart. I had decided, before ever even seeing the puppies, that I would name my new dog “Star”. So that afternoon, I brought “Star” to her new home. As the years passed, it became obvious that Star was less than interested in anything I or my other family members did. I even took obedience and agility classes with her. To my dismay, she was the most unenthusiastic participant in the class. I was nicknamed, the “cheerleader”, because of the way I had to be so overly energetic just to get Star to move out of a lazy walk. Despite my jubilant attitude, on the final day of class, Star demonstrated the full amount of her interest in agility. As I directed her to run through a long curved tunnel, she lumbered in and proceeded to lie down in the middle. Needless to say, I have not attempted to do any other such activities with Star.

Star may not have an interest in competitive ventures, but she is always more than ready to entertain the guests here at the ranch. I cannot think of a more perfect guest ranch dog. As soon as an unknown car arrives in the parking lot, Star arrives to greet the newcomers and show them the way to the lodge. For those guests who stay in a cabin, they have the special treat of an adopted dog for the duration of their stay. Are you interested in going for a scenic hike on the ranch? Star will be more than willing to show you the way. Would you like to spend some time lounging about the landscaped yard? Well, Star will make sure that you never bore. A game of sticks will certainly be on her agenda.

Star’s version of sticks may be a little different from what you have played with other dogs. First of all, she always has to have the perfect “hiding spot” to crouch in while you throw the stick and to return to after retrieving her stick. This hiding spot may or may not be near your location. Second, you mustn’t throw the stick too far, because, remember, she is almost 13 years old and doesn’t enjoy running about to retrieve her sticks. Thirdly, you mustn’t throw it in the wrong spot or she will simply wait for you to retrieve it and throw it again in the correct direction. Don’t worry. If this seems confusing to you at all, Star is sure to have you trained by the end of your visit.

As the cold weather sets in, Star prefers to spend her time indoors. You will often find her curled up on one of the couches when she thinks no one is looking. I think she looks forward all week to when the quilting ladies arrive on the weekend. Not only do they provide her entertainment, she is allowed to stay inside with them most of the day, and often spends the nights with them in the cabins.

Star has become a living legend here at the ranch, ranking up there with Tulip the Goat (another story for another time). Star receives more fan mail and gifts than anyone else at the ranch. Guests make return visits to the ranch, often, because of Star. Year after year, the legend of and love for Star grows. After traveling and estimated 17,664 trail miles in all her summers and 6,856 sleigh miles in all her winters at the ranch, for a total mileage of 24,520, she is still going strong.

So the next time you visit the ranch, be sure to give Star an extra rub behind the ears; a small gift for her years of service to all those who have enjoyed their time here at the ranch.

Grounded

I have been grounded!

It has been 70 days since I last rode a horse. One thousand, six hundred and eighty hours since I have sat astride the most magnificent beast ever to walk the earth. One hundred thousand, eight hundred minutes since I have been grounded.

For many people, this period of time off a horse’s back is of no consequence. For me, it is becoming torturous. During the third week of September, the ranch put on an adult horsemanship clinic. For the duration of the week, I found myself in either the office answering phones or in the kitchen cooking meals for our guests. All the other employees at the ranch were outside on horseback. As the week drug on (for me), I became more bitter by the day. By the end of the week I was not the most pleasant person to be around. I wanted to be outside riding my horses. But, no. I was almost 8 months pregnant and no one was letting me get anywhere near the back of a horse, especially my father.

I am now 38 weeks pregnant; just 2 weeks away from giving birth to Landon and my first wonderful little girl. I have recently begun planning for my first ride. Hopefully I will be horseback no more than three weeks after our little one is born.

To those of you who are getting in the last rides of the season before winter hits, please take advantage of these beautiful Fall days and take a ride for me.

The Herd

As a wrangler, I really appreciate the quality of horses at the ranch. From a 13.2 hand tall pony to the gentle giant draft horses, they are all a joy to work with.
Those horses ridden by our guests are the saddle horses. This group consists of 31 Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas. A few of these, Reed, Checkers, Chance, Blue, Dusty, and Sinco, are still young and in the training stage. These six are ridden primarily by the ranch wranglers. The other 25 horses are enjoyed by our guests in every season excluding winter.
The ten draft horses are a great source of

entertainment no matter the season. These giants are great workers, whether pulling the wagon or sleigh. Another super fun thing about four of the drafts; Bill, Larry, Justice, and Selma, is that, unlike many draft horses, they are able to be ridden. Nothing else compares to setting astride that much power! Their movement is so unique from that of a stock horse. We are hoping to have a couple of them going well enough for guests to ride next summer.

Our youngest horses are the half siblings, Pearl and Duke. Both are 1½ years old and will begin some light training this fall. Since Duke is half Percheron, and huge, he may get some saddle time before the fall is over. Pearl is a more normal sized variety of Appaloosa. I am looking forward to seeing both of them going under saddle, but I am especially excited about Duke.

It is always thrilling getting new horses, and I am especially excited about the new additions this fall. “Zippers” is a big, 11 year old, roan Appaloosa mare that the ranch purchased from Mary Snedden. Zippers was trained to a highly competitive level in Western and English Pleasure. Roley (my dad) has ridden her in two horse shows this fall and did extremely well. I have recently been “grounded” from riding due to my pregnant belly so I am especially excited for next spring when I will be able to begin riding Zippers in preparation for the summer show season. The newest addition this fall does not actually belong to the ranch; she belongs to me. I purchased “Lil Horse” about a month ago and unfortunately, because of my “grounded” status, I have not been able to ride her. My mom, Janice, has however, taken her on a couple rides. “Lil Horse” is a 10 year old, 13.2 hand tall, Pony of America. My hope is that after a summer of me riding her on trails and teaching horse camps she will become an excellent children’s horse.

If you haven’t had a chance to see or ride some of these amazing steeds, be sure to stop by for a ride before the snow flies or a sleigh ride when winter sets in.

NWBRA Finals 2009

One of the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch wranglers, Sammi Jo Carter, recently competed in the North West Barrel Racing Association Finals October 8-11 in Gillette Wyoming.

For those of you who don’t know what the NWBRA is, here is a little overview. Their mission is “To promote the sport of barrel racing as a family activity at all levels of competition”, and their goals are “To have a professional barrel racing association that recognizes all levels of competition”, and “to host a National Finals each fall that will allow its members the opportunity to compete at grand prizes as well as money.”

Sammi competed in the 5D division and made 2 runs on her mare “Beaner”. In her first run she had an excellent time of 18.1. However, she knocked over the first barrel so she was disqualified from that round. In her second run, she and Beaner were a perfect team and had a time of 17.816. Sammi and Beaner held the first place position for 160 competitors. The total number of contestants in the 5D division was 319 so when all was said and done, they were 50th in the rankings. Sammi considered the event to be a success because, “I improved by a full second from last year and bumped up 2 divisions.”

The most thrilling part of her week, it seems, was not the speed, the adrenaline, or the “turn and burn” attitudes. The most heart pumping part of her trip appears to be the ride home. The weather was not very favorable with snow, wind, and black ice. While her crew held back in Gillette, some people tried to press on into the snowy night. The result was two flipped and one jack-knifed horse trailers. As I write this, it is 3:00pm on Tuesday the 13th, and Sammi is still making her way back to Sandpoint very slowly and cautiously.

Congratulations Sammi from all of us here at WPGR!

An introduction to “From the Horse’s Mouth”

“In horse racing circles tips on which horse is a likely winner circulate amongst punters. The most trusted authorities are considered to be those in closest touch with the recent form of the horse, i.e. stable lads, trainers etc. The notional ‘from the horse’s mouth’ is supposed to indicate one step better than even that inner circle, i.e. the horse itself.” -Garry Martin

I am a genuine cowgirl, daughter, wife, sister, soon to be mother, friend and all around hand at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. I live and work here surrounded be the constant beauty of North Idaho and can not imagine myself anywhere else. It is my times spent at, and love for this place that makes me “one step better than the horse itself”. Please enjoy the stories and tales of Western Pleasure Guest Ranch that come “from the horse’s mouth”.