July 2010

Touring Colorado

I have had the pleasure of serving on the board of the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association for the past 7 years. One of the parts of that job that is really fun is inspecting other ranches. Each member ranch is inspected every 3 years and then any ranches that want to join get a fairly in-depth inspection.

I’ve done one member ranch inspection already this summer and took Bill along with me as he had never been to any other ranches. It was fun to have him along for that visit and we enjoyed sharing our thoughts on that Colorado ranch on our drive home. This week I had to go visit two ranches who are applying for membership in the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association. It was a whirlwind tour through several counties to get to these two ranches and spend some time getting to know them. The biggest treat for me was I got to spend the night at one of them and enjoyed a nice dinner with their guests and manager. It reminded me how fun it is to be a guest! I love the Steamboat area and our landscape here, but it is refreshing to be reminded of the diversity in Colorado. I went from the most extreme mountain passes with craggy rocks and snowcapped peaks to the farmland of Colorado, home of fresh peaches and cherries, then back over another pass with a lush forest and multiple lakes off of every turn in the road, then into the rocky, dry high desert with sagebrush and amazing rock formations, and finally back home to beautiful Steamboat Springs and my favorite ranch, Vista Verde. Hey, there’s a reason I’m still here after all these years. It was great to catch up with our guests again this morning and find out what adventures they’ve had the past couple days. There’s never a dull moment and it sounds like there have been memories made for everyone, and still more to come!

Farewell to Chef Rob

Life doesn’t always turn out as expected, and this summer has been that for Chef Rob. After spending some time with his family this spring he realized that those times with his folks are becoming more and more precious. After pondering the idea of moving closer to home, he surprised himself by deciding that it might not be that bad of an idea to leave the Rocky Mountains. He was even more surprised when a friend contacted him, asking him to consider moving back for a Chef job very close to his parent’s home.

Although we’re going to miss Rob and his culinary contributions to the ranch, we’re excited for him in his next venture.

Rob will be handing off his role in the Vista Verde kitchen to Chef Matt, and Chef Pat will be stepping into Matt’s role for the rest of the summer. Both have been here for a long time so it’s a fairly easy transition.

We’re glad to have been a stop in Rob’s adventures in life. The stories and memories will last long past his final fabulous meal.

Spotlight on Terry Wegener

Our horse trainer Terry Wegener has spent much of his life on Colorado ranches, but originally hails from Wisconsin. Terry fell in love with horses at a very young age, and his father sent him to work on a race horse farm with hopes of “getting it out of his system”. Anyone with a horse crazy child will tell you, in hindsight, that horses never leave the system. As an 8 year old, Terry was exercising racehorses and even rode in some races. In an effort to do what his parents wanted him to do, Terry attended University of Wisconsin and received a degree in Education. After two weeks of his first teaching job, Terry threw in the towel and returned to the race horse world. At that time he had a friend who put him in touch with a guest ranch in Colorado and next thing Terry was working at that guest ranch and stayed for 7 years. During that time Terry became involved in the cow horse world and began training under Monty Foreman.

Terry’s pursuit of the world of horses was sidetracked by a 3 year bout with cancer. Despite the grim outcome doctors anticipated, he was still able to persuade his love interest to marry him. Close to 15 years later, Terry and Annie are still enjoying their unexpected time together and living life to the fullest. Sharing a training venture in the Denver area, they have trained top level horses and both are active judges. Terry has trained World Champion AQHA reining horses, National Champion Arabian horses in reining and cow horse competition and multiple Regional Champions. He’s also coached amateur riders and their horses to World Championships and the NRHA Amateur Horse of the Year. In addition to winning all these awards Terry is also a NRHA, AQHA and IAHA judge and still judges several shows a year.

Terry has taken a step back from the show world at Vista Verde. He spends most of his time training our young horses, overseeing the breeding program and leading clinics for our guests. His love of horses and enthusiasm for the theories and techniques for becoming a better horse person are infectious. In the years to come we will have more horses available for sale- whether to head into the show ring or someone’s backyard. With Terry’s oversight we’re breeding solid minded, well conformed and kind Quarter horses. The string of 6 or so broodmares crossed with our two stallions will allow us to continue putting better and better horses into our riding string.

The Vista Verde riding program continues to improve under Terry’s leadership and with the help of his Assistant trainer Nicky and Head Wrangler Johanna. If you are looking to improve your riding skills, we would love to have you come join us for one of the Ranch Versatility Horsemanship clinics. We host them several times a year.

Board meetings by the Pond

Yesterday afternoon we had our manager meeting out by the pond. It was a little distracting with the sound of the creek running out from the pond so everyone had to speak up just a bit to be heard. And the wind every once in a while blew through and rustled our papers. Oh, and at one point when they ran the horses out to pasture we lost a little focus while all of us watched the show. And after sitting through two other meetings leading up to the manager meeting, I was getting a little uncomfortable sitting in that lounge chair. But otherwise, it was OK. I supposed I could be sitting in some board room with the sound of traffic outside, but I’ll take this board meeting setting any day. And you can too! With our increased space from the Great Room addition last year, better internet service with the T1 line, and the addition of the indoor arena for team building events both summer and winter we are set up to host more meeting groups and business retreats at the ranch. Give me (Stephanie) a call or email if you’re interested in finding out more about meetings at the ranch.

On another note, we took our staff photo yesterday. It’s amazing to see how many people it takes to provide the experience we offer at Vista Verde. It’s a great crew this summer. If you haven’t had a chance to meet them yet, I hope you get to still this summer.