February 2010

Get fit for your Horseback Riding Holiday this summer!


Our friends at Top50Ranches posted this on their blog, and we thought it would be helpful for all our guests getting ready for a horseback riding holiday at Vista Verde this summer!

Horseback riding seems like such an elegant sport that it can easily fool people into thinking that getting on a horse’s back and maneuvering an animal more than five times your weight is child’s play. It’s not. And if you’re thinking of taking a horseback riding holiday then you need to get ready for the physical demands that come with it!

Like all other sports, horseback riding holidays require that you train your body, paying particular attention to leg and core exercises. If you’re going to be able to control that horse with precision, you’re going to have to get those leg and core muscles at their best.

Some leg exercises for horseback riding

Stirrup Stretch 
The stirrup stretch is great for improving posture and balance, two things you will need on your horseback riding holiday.
Walk up to any kind of stairs you have access to do this exercise. Stand on the first step and hold on to the railing for support. Slowly stretch up until you are balancing only on the balls of your feet. Then slowly stretch back down, lowering your heels until you start feeling a stretch in your calf area. Hold for 10 seconds.
Advanced move: Add difficulty to this stretch by letting go of the railing and just balancing on your feet. You can also increase the length of time you’re on the balls of your feet slowly. Aim for two seconds first and then increase that to five and so on.

Wall Stirrup Stretch
A variation of the stirrup stretch, this exercise will simply call for any wall you can find.
Put your foot up a wall at about half or three-fourths of the position it would be if you were in your stirrups. Lift your foot up as if it were in a stirrup and hold for three seconds. Release the stretch and repeat five times.
Advanced move: As you are able to do more, increase the period of time you have your foot up.

Thigh Squeeze
This exercise trains your inner thigh muscles so you can easily hang on to a horse using your thighs.
Get a beach ball or any kind of plastic or rubber ball you can find, as long as it is at least 12 inches in diameter. Sit on a stable chair, ensuring that you’re in a position wherein your knees make right angles to the floor. Move over to the edge of the chair so that you are sitting on your butt. Make sure your thighs are completely off the chair and place your beach ball between your knees. Squeeze the ball and hold for 15 seconds. Release. Do this several times a day.
Advanced move: Each day, increase the number of seconds you are holding the beach ball during the squeeze.

Some core exercises for horseback riding

Sit-ups are traditional but they are still effective for building core muscles if you do them regularly.
Advanced moves: Get a better core workout by an exercise ball while doing sit-ups and its variations.

Plank exercises
The plank is a yoga move but it is very effective in building core muscles and stabilizing your center of gravity.
Assume a push-up position, but lean on your forearms instead of supporting your body with your hands. Push up with your core muscles, ensuring that only your forearms and the balls of your feet are touching the floor. Hold this position for 15 seconds and repeat about 15 times throughout the day.

Some cardiovascular and weight exercises for horseback riding

Additionally, you will need to have good endurance for long/fast rides on horseback riding holidays, so prepare with some cardio and some high-rep, low-weight weightlifting as well.

For cardio Feel free to mix it up between jogging, stairs / stepmill, elliptical training, and cycling.
For weights Keep it light with high reps (such as 12-20), but don’t forget to do the important “compound movements” such as bench press, lateral pulldowns, squats, deadlifts, assisted dips, upright dumbbell military presses, lunges, and some bonus movements for your calves, triceps, and biceps. And don’t forget to get an occasional rest day after hard workouts –  you don’t need to work out 7 days a week!

It’s also about diet – Whey Protein Supplementation can help

After you work out, you might think you can and should eat anything in the house. This is a horrible misconception – your post-workout meal is the most important! Immediately after you work out, you want fast-digesting protein and carbohydrates so that you can fuel your broken-down muscle’s immediately!

For this, try our favorite whey protein, MTS “Machine” Whey. This is a whey protein powder made by bodybuilder Marc Lobliner. Whey is the fastest-digesting protein, which is what you want after working out. In fact, MTS Whey is of such a high quality that it received NSF Certification, meaning that it is guaranteed not to have any contaminants and is proven safe for athletes who are under stringent drug tests. However, the deal and flavor still cannot be beat! As a bonus, this is about 25% less money than what you’ll pay at the local store – and that’s after shipping.

This guest post was written by Mike at Whey Protein Labs. You can read more about the best whey protein athttp://www.wheyproteinlabs.com/best-whey-protein, and see a full diet and training plan on the right hand side of the page as well.

The art of grooming, and we’re not talking hair

Most mornings in the winter you’ll see our Bombardier MP+ out grooming the ski trails, piloted by Charlie Cammer. Although we don’t get Charlie out on skis much, he fully understands what makes a ski trail ideal and takes great pride in laying down the perfect courderoy for our cross-country skiers. On mornings like today, Charlie enjoys watching the sun come up from the comfort of his cab, music playing and the view not so shabby.

For anyone who has spent some time with Charlie, it’s no surprise that he is really the guy running the show behind the scenes here at Vista Verde.

Charlie grew up in Catskill Mountains in New York being put to work by his parents running a boarding house, or what we might call a bed and breakfast these days. When he was 25 he headed out West and ended up in Steamboat Springs. He spent his first summer driving a delivery truck for a lumber company. Later he managed a 1,200 acre cattle ranch while raising 3 kids, 2 of whom returned to Steamboat after their schooling and 1 who is currently in school after 2 tours of duty as an Apache helicopter mechanic.

In 1999 Charlie joined us at the ranch to oversee what we officially like to call, Everything Outside. Well, over the years, Everything Outside has turned into Mostly Everything. On any given day, you’ll find Charlie coordinating the driving schedule, planning staff outings, developing new programs for guest activities or mentoring his ranch hand crew, in addition to coaching many of our managers through their days. In addition to being a great rancher and seeing the big picture of what we’re doing here at Vista Verde, Charlie understands hospitality, and we all would be lost without him here at Vista Verde Ranch.

In his rare time off, Charlie has spent a lot of time building houses with his wife Barb. His most recent project is his timber frame house up by Hahn’s Peak, nestled in an idyllic grove of aspens overlooking Farwell Mountain, Big Agnes and the Continental Divide. He claims that he’s not sure which is better, the sunsets or the sunrises. What we can guarantee is that he saw a spectacular sunset this morning while grooming in the Bombardier!

Spotlight on Rob Citto and the kitchen crew

It only takes being around Chef Rob Citto for a little while to know that he is from New York, Staten Island to be exact. No cowboy twang and Stetson hat for this chef! Rob graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and from there spent his time working as a chef at a fishing lodge in Alaska, on a boat in Panama and a club in Seattle, amongst other exciting locations. All of these destinations had a similar outdoor theme which appealed to Rob and part of why a works for him. An avid fisherman, hiker and fanatic softball team leader, Rob enjoys his time outside of the kitchen as much as in the kitchen.

When asked about why he is at Vista Verde Rob responded, “Vista Verde is not just a ranch, it is a place where people come to heal, or get away from the “real world”. I love looking at the mountains every day, watching the sunset and sunrise and seeing a new guest’s eyes widen when they see the ranch for the first time. I also love when a guest tells me they gained a bunch of weight. It means I’m doing my job well. I always try to come up with new dishes and ideas every season so there’s a new twist to our return guest’s home away from home.”

Rob has a fabulous crew working with him in the kitchen too. Matt, Patrick and Emmy work right by Rob’s side each day, turning out fun and creative meals that walk the line between ranchy and fancy. And, they have a little fun at the same time!

Spring in the Rockies

Spring has spring in full force here in Colorado.  We are busy getting ready to open for the dude ranch season on June 3.  Between foals being born, grass sprouting, aspens starting to bud and flowers peeking out here and there, it definitely feels like spring is in the air.

The snow is melting off the highest peaks now, and the combination of the last white snow with the fresh green grass is stunning.  We are putting the finishing touches on our summer program before guests show up for a ranch holiday.

Our staff arrive in a couple weeks, and then we will begin orientation.  They will learn the ins and outs of what it takes to try to provide the best possible dude ranch vacation for our guests.  It’s an intense time, but fun.  Then, the guests arrive on June 3, and we will be off to the races.

For those looking ahead, come September, we do start offering our adult only vacation packages.  During that month, the ranch becomes a great spot for those seeking an all-inclusive ranch resort vacation for adults only. Most of our regular activities are still offered, and we also have our cattle round up going on from September 2-30.  The cattle round up takes our regular horseback riding vacation to a new level with lots of adventurous riding and a real job to get done on horseback.

We hope to have you join us this summer!  Until then, we are having a ball watching spring progress here in the Colorado Rockies.

Lighting the Olympic Torch

Obviously this blog is usually about what is going on at Vista Verde Ranch. But today, I felt compelled to send a little shout out to Steamboat Springs, or what we affectionately call “the Big City”.

You can’t miss the energy and the excitement of the upcoming Olympic Games here in. I’m not sure of the exact count of Steamboat athletes going to the games, but am very tuned into one particular sport in the games that most of us here are going to be watching closely. The Nordic Combined team will be largely made up of athletes who came from Steamboat. Our friends Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane will be leading the team with Bill Demong who didn’t grow up here, but has spent much of his Ski Team career based in Steamboat. These three guys are joined by two other younger athletes, one of them who is also from here. Having so many Steamboat athletes on this team is not all that unusual. What’s most exciting about this is that this year the Nordic Combined Team stands a very good chance at collecting a medal. Both Todd, Johnny and Bill have collected medals at the World Championships in the past couple years, and have been doing very well in World Cup competitions all season long. They all have remarkable stories of resilience, comebacks and dedication.

So, as we head into the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver games, keep an eye out for our boys. They’ll be competing first on Sunday, February 14 and then have two more events later on in the games. If you want to follow them at all, both have Facebook pages as well as Johnny’s wife has a blog you can follow. Good luck guys!

Colorado Romantic Resorts

Colorado is a great place for romantic getaways, whether it’s a honeymoon, anniversary celebration or just a getaway with your sweetheart.  Some like to come in the summer, when the weather is mild, and the outdoors are so accessible.  At Vista Verde, September is a great month for romantic getaways, when the ranch is adults only.  But, we also get requests for stays eariler in the summer.  I always warn the guests that there will be lots of kids around, but that typically isn’t a big issue.  Because we have such a great kids program at our all-inclusive Colorado ranch and resort, the kids are often times out of sight of the couples.  And, because our activities are set up with very individualized attention, it’s not like the romantic getaway couple is out on a ride with a bunch of 10 year olds.

Winter is another great option for romantic vacations.  Because the ranch offers shorter stay options in the winter, it is both more affordable for young honeymoon vacationers and more attainable for those with busy schedules.  And, there is nothing like snuggling up by a roaring fire in your private cabin or going for a romantic sleigh ride while the snow gently falls outside.

There are plenty of other great options for romantic Colorado getaways, from mountain cabins to big ski resorts.  Let us know of some of your favorites!

A Simple Guide to summer family vacation

As the summer dude ranch season is only a month away, we are spending a lot of time putting the finishing touches on our preparations for our family dude ranch times.  It makes me think about what makes a great summer family vacation.

1) Unplugging- part of what makes a family vacation at Vista Verde, whether it’s in summer of during winter for a family snow vacation, is that you get to unplug.  Cell service is spotty, and internet is only available in the cabins and Lodge.  You have to put down your Iphone, turn off your laptop, and texting….what’s that when you are out on a horse?  All of this unplugging allows you to plug into the most important part of your life….your family.

2) Experiences- there is something about shared experiences that makes great memories.  Laughing together while trying something new, experiencing the thrill of accomplishing a feat you didn’t think was doable, and being able to talk about those times around the dinner table that night and for years after.  Photos are great, but experiences are better.  At our luxury Colorado dude ranch, there are so many experiences to be shared.

3) Quiet time- although the experiences at an all-inclusive Colorado resort like Vista Verde are wild and fun, the quiet time is what brings a sense of peace.  Sitting around a campfire with your kids, laughing, talking, and then just enjoying the stillness changes everyone.  You can reflect, you can appreciate each other, the moment, and take a deep breath.

4) Relationships- building relationships with others helps build realtionships with each other.  Vista Verde is a dude ranch for families, and that means we all become family.  As you watch your kids build relationships with the staff and other guests, you get to enjoy watching those relationships grow.  At the same time, your relationship will grow with your kids as you sit around the table with other families and the staff.  Your kids will learn about you, and you will learn about your kids.

So, don’t wait.  Plan your summer family vacation today!  Whether you come to Vista Verde, or end up at another of the great Colorado dude ranches, you can’t go wrong.

Spotlight on Kelli King

A while ago, a couple of our guests suggested that I highlight some of our staff on the blog. I’ve been gathering info on the key players to get the Spotlight series started. I was going to take bribes on who I showcased first, but after getting some fabulous pictures of Kelli recently, I couldn’t resist to showcase her!

Kelli King grew up in Ohio and completed her undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology at Kent State University. While working as a fitness specialist for a corporate wellness facility she met Steve and they were married in 1994 in Breckenridge, Colorado. They had moved there just a few years before on a whim to explore the West based on a recommendation from a couple who they met camping in Alaska while traveling the country. After 7 years in Breckenridge, and a brand new baby, Steve and Kelli picked up and moved to the Steamboat Springs area when Steve began running our ski program in the winter of 1999. Kelli stayed at home with their daughter Maddie until she realized that she needed some more social stimulation and started job sharing as a guide with her husband.

It didn’t take us long to recognize Kelli’s talents, and as Maddie began pre-school, there was more of an opportunity for both Steve and Kelli to work full time at the ranch. Kelli took over our kid’s program and brought to it the understanding of children that only a mom can offer. She spent that past 8 years guiding ski tours in the winter and molding the kids program to her vision the rest of the time and has now handed off the day to day oversight to others in order to pursue her passion for guiding full time. As she is also a Yoga Fit instructor you can always twist Kelli’s arm to lead a ranch yoga class as well.

When Kelli isn’t at the ranch, she can be found practicing yoga, spending time with her parents and brother who all now live in Colorado, camping with Steve and Maddie and working on their home near the ranch.

I’ll finish each spotlight with a direct quote. I asked Kelli what working at Vista Verde means to her.
“Having the opportunity to work with my husband and getting to bring my daughter to work and have her interact with not only the high quality of young staff that work here but get to meet people form all over the world, as well as learn from passionate individuals like Terry (Horses) and Dace (Hospitality). She gets a rare opportunity to really understand what her parents “do for a living” as well as participate in the amazing activities on the Ranch. I get an opportunity to work with passionate people doing what they love and for owners who really do care about you, as a person and your family. They not only want you to succeed at your job but they want you to success, period. Personally, I get the opportunity to be the conduit for connecting people to nature and to that 14 year old inside all of us. I get to work at what I love to do (playing in nature) and I get to meet very interesting people and share and connect with them.”