This week I have mostly been a cowgirl! Yee Ha!
I arrived in Denver Airport last Sunday morning and was greeted by a cowboy in a hat and boots and everything! Hello! His name was John and he was going to be transfering me and another family up to the Ranch. When we arrived it was everything you could wish for, kittens, dogs, horses, humming birds feeding on the porch, beautiful scenery and a really friendly homely atmosphere that meant instant relaxation! Dinner was gorgeous in the intimate dining room, I had landed on my feet again in the food department!
After dinner those that wanted to could hike to the top of Boy Scout Mountain, I was determined to throw myself into everything that was on offer so I set off with the small group. The climb was pretty steep and rocky but not too difficult and the view at the top was definately worth the effort.
The following morning after a very entertaining safety speech from the Ranch owner we were introduced to our horses. Mine was called Bueno and he is a 15.2h (ish) Bay Gelding. I soon learnt that Bueno doesnt speak English only Western when it comes to riding and I had no idea how to steer one of these things Western Stylie (on the plus side though the saddle is more comfortable). Bueno took me for a lovely ride through the Roosevelt National Forest, although as I had yet to master the steering I felt like I was partaking in an extreme sport where at any moment I could loose a leg to a boulder or tree (I may be exaggerating here). Bueno seemed blissfully unaware of the fact that my legs were wider than him. After riding I learnt how to throw tomahawks and by an amazing stroke of luck one of them actually hit the thing I was aiming at!! After another lovely dinner I whipped John at pool and then sat in the hot tub looking at an incredible amount of stars.
Tuesday was the 'breakfast ride', where you ride out to a beautiful spot in the mountains and when you get there Chef and Tara are busy rustling up a delicious breakfast of french toast, bacon and eggs. At this point I started to wonder whether I was gonna need a bigger horse by the end of the week? I had spotted an 18.2h giant that was built like a barn so as long as I didnt get too big for him I figured I was ok to tuck in!
In the afternoon we went rock climbing. It didn't look to bad from the bottom and like I said I was going to throw myself into whatever was on offer. While the kids in the group ran up like mountain goats, I was a little more cautious. Once I got to the top I realised that climbing up was not the issue, coming down was! Codie (the guy who had the other end of the rope I was attached to) had to literally talk me down off a ledge. Then for some reason I went up again???? I can only put this down to temporary insanity. Some jokers in the group suggested I climb the third and highest climb but since I didn't have $7000 to pay for rescue by helicopter I thought I would give it a miss. So for the record please dont buy me rock climbing gift vouchers as presents, I might hit you!
When we got back to the ranch a couple of us took the 12 gauge shot gun out to the shooting range. I really enjoyed this and I think so long as whatever I am trying to hit stands perfectly still I stand a good chance of hitting it! At dinner John and I polished off a bottle of Cockburns Port (well I was still stressed from the rock climbing) before starting on the vodka. T (one of the wranglers who was very funny), Chef and Tara (the people trying to fatten me up), John and I got a blanket and went and laid in the pasture star gazing. There was much discussion about the constillations and we discovered that between us we knew next to nothing! Oh well I did see 2 shooting stars and a satellite! (definately not planes)
The following day I got to go on a faster ride with Bryce (another wrangler), this was great fun and luckily I had worked out how to steer by now so crashing in to things was less likely. For some reason a canter is called a 'lope' over here and this is something we did plenty of! In the evening was a campfire with cowboy songs very entertaining.
Thursday was pancakes for breakfast followed by white water rafting. I had chosed the more adventurous course but following the rock climbing incident I was wondering whether I was up to it? Our boats "captain" was called Uldis and he was super ultra fit (not that I noticed). As it turned out I loved white water rafting although I am not sure whether I would have if I had fallen in, the water was pretty cold due to the hot weather? Back at the Ranch I had a go at shooting the 50 gauge black powder muzzleloader, this seemed to involve a lot of faffing about and some smoke and a big bang. I took the precaution of closing my eyes when I pulled the trigger in nervous anticipation of the noise. I am not sure I am cut out to fire guns?
After a go in the hot tub I went to the boys dorm with some of the wranglers to play drinking games. The game was 'landmines' and I am still not clear on the rules even though there are only 3 of them. We got a little loud and I was ejected from the dorm by the ranch owner who was not a happy bunny. I must have missed the sign that said I wasn't allowed in staff quarters?
Friday I went on an all day ride with Bryce to Elkhorn falls where we had lunch. Once again there was lots of running (cantering). I was a little bit worried by the thunder storm as I was quite keen not to get struck by lightening during my stay. However once it had passed we had a good run back to the ranch. After taking the saddle off I got to take Bueno swimming which was amazing. I have never swum with a horse before and I was warned to look out for 'pond apples' which looks almost exactly like horse poo!
Saturday we played Arena games including barrel racing. This involves some tight turning and although me and Bueno had come to an understanding about steering we hadn't discussed turning at speed. Basically we sucked at it!
This week has been fantastic, probably one of the best weeks I have ever had. All the guests at the ranch got on really well and the staff were all great fun with big personalities. There is so much to do here and you can do as much or as little as you like. The wildlife is fantastic with all sorts of birds, chipmonks not to mention a goat, a snail and a batswing (I didn't like to ask where the rest of it was)
I would definately recommend a visit!