November 2011

Riding through powdery snow

Riding through powdery snow with blue sky above is one of life’s unique pleasures. I can’t think of another way to share something so basic yet so beautiful with another creature, and next to my husband, the horse is my first choice.

I’m fortunate in that my husband loves riding as much as I do, and though he’s only been at it for a few years, it’s always his first choice activity on weekends. Having the opportunity to share time at Vista Verde, among such winter splendor with great people, would be a dream.

Name: Lillian LeBel
City: Temple
State: NH

New budget rooms at Vista Verde

We’ve added some new accommodations to the ranch. No, we haven’t expanded our capacity for people. We’ve expanded it for horses! After several years learning how the beautiful indoor arena fits into our program, we are finding that we need the ability to house more horses indoors. So, this fall, we took on a project inside the indoor arena, adding 9 more stalls. This will allow us to keep more training horses in the arena, so we can be working on improving our herd more consistently.

While the stalls have been built, we also re-did the insulation in the arena. Lesson learned the hard way, traditional insulation does not work in a humid environment like an indoor arena. So, that insulation was pulled out and we applied spray insulation. This should help reduce the energy required to heat the arena in the future, and takes away any potential mold issues.

Terry and the wranglers are anxiously waiting for the project to be finished so they may start riding the horses inside again. The snow covered outdoor arena doesn’t quite do the trick this time of year!

Dream 30th

I would love to do something so very special for my wonderful wife for her 30th birthday! Not only has she given me 5 amazing years of marriage, but our little girl was born in October 2012. Now I want to give her something that she’ll remember for the rest of her life. I want to show her that I care and adore her like she deserves to be.

We both love the Colorado winter and love being in the mountains, especially so near “Dreamboat.” There just isn’t any other place we’d rather be. Skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and relaxing are all on a list of our favorite things to do. And what about a romantic sunset snowmobile tour? I think so.

Please help me make this dream 30th come true.

Name: Harry Krewson
City: Fort Collins
State: CO

Empanada Filling

Chef Matt also updated his Empanada filling recipe to make it more user friendly.

Makes: 25


6- 6 oz. chicken breasts

½ – cup dry rib rub

1-Large yellow onion medium diced

1-Cup of toasted and rough chopped pistachios

Salt and pepper to taste

3- oz- olive oil

2- oz- butter


  1. Melt the butter in a sauté pan and slowly caramelize the onions on very low heat for about 2 hours.
  2. Rub down all the chicken breast with the olive oil and rib rub then grill of the chicken breasts to medium well.
  3. Once chicken has cooled cut it to medium dice and mix in the caramelized onions and pistachios. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and begin filling your empanadas.


Depending on how much filling you use in each one you may have less or more so play with your amounts to get the right amount of filling for the amount of dough.

Sweet empanadas are great also that you can make with some diced apples caramelized with butter, vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon. When you make sweeter ones you can add baking spices to the dough as well and a little brown sugar.

These can be really good served warm with vanilla ice cream.



we would come to your ranch to spend some quality family time. take in the beauty of your state, city and countryside.
frolic in the snow, drink some hot chocolate, and cherish the memories that fade so quickly

Name: steve dunlap
Company: pegsat communications
City: austin
State: TX

Empanada Dough

Chef Matt has updated his Empanda Dough recipe to make it more usable. Enjoy!

Makes: around 50(varies on the thickness of the dough and size of cutter)


4 ½ cups – All purpose flour

3 cups – Masa harina

1 tbsp. – baking powder

1 tbsp. – Salt

12 oz. – melted butter

½ to 2 cups – water

1-Egg blended with 2 ounces of milk

  1. Mix together the flour, masa, baking powder and salt in a kitchen aid mixer
  2. Slowly add in the melted butter on medium speed and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add in the water until the dough pulls together but is not sticky.
  4. Divide the dough into 3rds and let rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before shaping.
  5. On a floured surfaced roll out the dough to 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch in thickness.
  6. Cut out the dough with a 4 to 5 inch pastry cutter, brush ½ of the dough with the egg milk mixture add in your filling ( about 1 ½ tbsp.) then fold over the dough and seal up the empanada.
  7. Once all of the empanadas are done egg wash the top side and bake at 400 degrees F until golden brown.

This recipe can be easily cut in half or quartered to make the amount you need.

My vacation….

A ride in the woods, cardinals whistle, I whistle back. Quiet snow crunches and I lean forward to inhale the pure clean air. The saddle creaks and another sigh as the chink, chink of the bit slides through my horses mouth. I pause beside a creek, almost silent in the frosted paradise. Here we cross and tiny drops flip up and chill my cheek as my horse decides on a last minute jump. Surprised and thrilled we trot up the bank and on with our journey.

Name: Amber Morris
Company: Haven Arabians
City: Guthrie
State: OK

Bid on a 3 night stay this winter!

Vista Verde has donated a stay at the ranch to help raise funds for a local Steamboat couple. Gary Crawford is a coach who works with Steph’s husband Todd at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. A former Olympian, now training young athletes to follow in his footsteps, Gary has helped so many young athletes from the likes of four time silver medalist Johnny Spillane to the littlest kids on their way to Olympic dreams. Gary’s wife, Kim, has suffered from major medical issues the past several years. In this struggle, they have racked up an overwhelming amount of medical bills. To help get them back on their feet, the local community is sponsoring an event November 18. One of the items to be auctioned off is a 3 night winter stay at Vista Verde for 2 people.

To help increase the amount of bidding, we are opening up the auction via our Facebook page, for any of you to bid on that stay. You can just post your bid on our wall. If you are not on Facebook, or don’t want to have your name published with your bid amount, you may email Steph your highest bid and she will bid for you. Email Steph at The bidding will close at 8:45pm Mtn time on Friday, November 18.

The 3 night stay for 2 people is offered anytime during the winter (December 16, 2011-March 18, 2012, based on availability. The stay may not be used for an existing reservation. The value of the 3 night stay is $2,200. Included in the stay is airport transfers from the Steamboat airport, meals, beer and wine, activities, guides, equipment and instruction.

To increase the value of the package, Olympic medalist Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick have offered to include a ski lesson with one of them, again dependent on their availability due to their winter competition schedule. A lesson from an Olympic medalist? That makes the package priceless.

Let the bidding begin!

Mandy Sugzdinis

I fell in love with the wild west when I fell out of my mothers womb! Unfortunately, I had to live a normal suburban life with a husband and 4 kids – 15 years apart. I have a 20, 19, and 2 twin 4 year olds that literally take everything out of me. I have dreamed of being on a ranch and living the ‘west’ life style all my life. (I’m only 40) and hope to get to experience it some day! I have ridden as much as I can – even leasing a horse at one point. If anyone could be more excited and more ready its ME!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PICK ME! you won’t regret it!

Name: Mandy

The Vista Verde Royal Wedding

Over the weekend, we all were wrapped up in the excitement of Johanna and Javin’s wedding. It was an amazing day! I know many of you have been waiting for the details, so here they are:

In the days leading up to the wedding, the sun was shining and it was just beautiful around the ranch. We started getting ready a few days before as the Lodge needed a pretty deep clean after being closed for a month. We had moved all the furniture into the basement a few weeks earlier, so we had a clean slate for the wedding. Thursday Sarah and Lewis did a major shopping run, to get all the groceries for the brunch. Thursday night the girls put on a little shin-dig for Jo, showering her with fun little goodies and whooping it up late into the night. Friday the rental tables, chairs, etc.. showed up, and that is when the Lodge started to transform. The Great room was set up for the ceremony, the Dining room for a post ceremony gathering, and in the wing we had everything staged for a great turnaround after the ceremony. Jo and Jav were calm and cool during the rehearsal. I had to laugh, looking at Jo’s bridesmaids. Anita and Steph were two of them, and then she had two friends from growing up in Indiana. The ranch friends were in skirts and cowgirl boots, while the “city friends” did their part to bring real world fashion to the ranch.

Early Saturday morning, we all started getting ready. We knew it was coming, but were still somewhat surprised to wake up to lightly falling snow. Lewis was madly cooking in the kitchen, Ben and I were doing a final clean on the Lodge, and Jo and her bridesmaids were up bright and early for hair and make up. The cowgirls clean up well! After some photos in the Great room, everyone was ready for the main event. At 10am, Javin escorted the mothers down the aisle, while Jo waited behind closed doors in the dining room. Nathan was playing DJ with the ceremony music, while many of us rushed from our roles in the set up in time to grab a seat and watch the ceremony. It was beautiful, casual, and touching. And, to no one’s surprise, they both said “I do” and then sealed it with a kiss.

After the ceremony, we moved the guests into the Dining room to enjoy some coffee, sign the guest book pages and watch a slideshow of the couple. During that time, the newlyweds took the more traditional family photos. The photographers even got them to step outside into the falling snow. Cody even jumped in on a few photos with his favorite gal. During that hour, there was a mad rush in the Great room as we took away the chairs, rolled in 9 tables, set them and got ready for the brunch. It was amazing to see so many people pitch in to help. There were the current staff who were on the schedule to help. But, then all the former staff (think Kyle, AJ, Lee, Teresa, Josh, Jess, Rachel, Jenn, and more) hopped in and were willingly put to work. Much to Sarah’s surprise, we turned the entire room around in about 15 minutes. I am always amazed at how quickly a job like that can be completed when so many people help. That gave everyone a little more time to visit, sip coffee and enjoy the beautiful view outside.

As the guest sat at their tables, we brought in the bridal party and then the newlyweds. While folks dined, they visited and hugged, took more photos, and then finally got a bite to eat themselves. Lewis did an outstanding job of preparing an amazing brunch spread as the solo chef of the event. He told me he decided to come in earlier to just do it himself when he heard his kitchen assistant was going to be Terry. He may be great on a horse, but with sharp knives? It really was fun to watch the core management staff jump in and pull off this wedding with just a few of us. Dace manned the waffle station, Bill carved the ham, Kelli assisted Sarah with the buffet, Steve manned the juice bar and Charlie was Mr. Coffee.

After a wonderful meal, we toasted with mimosas, enjoyed cupcakes for the wedding cake, and sent them on their way to Colorado Springs for their honeymoon. After they left, the Great room took another transformation. The tables and chairs went away, and all the regular furniture came back up. We had planned to do that while there were so many of us around to get it done quickly. Once again, all sorts of folks jumped in to help and the job was done in less than an hour. The TV was switched to a football game, and the crew all enjoyed relaxing and visiting for a while.

From all of us at the ranch, we wish Jo and Jav the very best. We love you like family, and will miss you as you move onto your next venture in life!

Restorative Retreat

I have been fighting cervical/bladder cancer since 2007, going though four treatments of Chemo, radation and internal radation. After stopping the fourth course of Chemo treatments because of having to spend eleven days in the hospital after the treatments. My quality of life is better without the courses of Chemo making me so sick that I end up in the hospital for five to six days I deceided to end the Chemo for good. Now I am going to try to restore my life to as good as I can and live what is left of my life the best as I can.

A winter vacation at this time would be just the thing that I need to restore myself. I have a love of the outdoors and horses that I have not been able to enjoy of to now and I want to ride in the snow and sunshine again.

I was a wrangler just out of college and fell in love with the life on a ranch at that time. I would love to enjoy that again. It will help me put my life together again as it did at that time. Letting me plan for the future and fall in love with the outdoors. Being able to be outdoors and have everything that I need to restore myself physically and mentally available to me is the perfect vacation for me at this time. All the activities and good food are just the thing for me to restore me.

I will horseback ride as much as the weather will allow anding a sliegh ride a message and time sitting in the spa and/or hot tub then all the great food with new company is just the thing that will make a great vacation for me. Time to read and enjoy the peace is a evening that I look forward to. This is what my stay would be like if I were to join you at Vista Verde for a winter vacation.

Thank you for this chance.

Diana Kempf

Name: Diana Kempf
City: Battle Creek
State: MI

Shuffling Horses

By guest blogger- Reid Morgan

November at Vista Verde means many different things, but in the horse department, it means preparing our herd for the rigors of a Steamboat Springs Winter. We’ve been moving horses around from pasture to pasture, building new stalls in the indoor arena for some “5 star” horse living quarters, and also buying, selling, and donating horses. We have been on a mission to send some of our older horses to good homes this fall as it can be a challenge for the older guys to stay fat and happy through the cold winter. Many of our older horses (Red and Casey) have been going to therapeutic riding centers, where they’ll live happily in a warm stall and continue to give joy to the children who ride and learn from them. Some of our horses (Gaeton, Wyatt, and Sugar) are finding homes with kind individuals who are looking for a friend. One of our ponies (Arapaho) even traveled all the way to North Carolina for retirement! We get very excited to pass these horses, who have given us so much, on to new owners who will enjoy them in their later years.

Do not think, friends, that we are only giving away horses though! Indeed, we are adding to the herd as well. Just this past weekend a few of us headed down the road to an estate auction to check out a herd in Steamboat Springs. The owner of this ranch passed away almost 4 years ago, leaving 26 horses to pasture for almost 4 years! These horses had been used for sleigh rides, hunting and camping trips, and even some trail rides and cattle work. It was very exciting to see the community rally around this family to help them find good homes for these horses. Though there are good arguments for and against the horse-meat market, no one wanted to see these horses have to suffer a trip all the way down to Mexico, so we all showed up to see what we could do! Vista Verde was able to provide a home for 3 of these horses, 2 beautiful white Percherons (full brothers) and one sweet black half-draft named “Stormy.” We are so excited to see how these big white boys do pulling our feed sleigh and we just now are getting the snow to make that possible! Also, we’re looking for good names for these two, any suggestions?

It’s always great to be amongst people who care as much for these beautiful animals as we at Vista Verde do, and the community of Steamboat Springs in one such group of people. Our horses give us such joy and companionship over the years, and teach us so much about ourselves! It’s all we can do to give back to them for their kindness and loyalty.

love of mountains

I used to live in CO for 30 yrs then met the love of my life in Michigan, at our 35th high school reunion. So I moved back to MI to be with him. We have taken a few trips to CO so I can show him my ‘home state’. There is no place in the USA better than CO and the mountains just make me so relaxed, happy and hopefully retire back to CO. To win this package will be a dream for us, to really sink in the wholesomeness of the mountains and have a little romance to boot.

Name: Tonia Atteridg
State: MICHIGAN – November 2011

Cattle drive at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in ColoradoHerding cattle back to Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado

© 2011 Dick Friedland

When I tell my friends I just came back from a roundup and cattle drive the inevitable response includes jokes about playing Billy Crystal in the movie City Slickers. In actuality the similarity ends with horses and cows.

I was at Vista Verde Guest Ranch, northwest of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the last week in September for the final week of a month-long cattle drive. I live in Colorado and chose this particular week for three reasons. First, the weather is usually good, with colder nights that quickly turn into warm days. Second, the aspen tree leaves have turned golden and it’s just beautiful. Third, the majority of the 1,000-head herd has been brought in, so we were heading up into the high country to help roundup strays, that didn’t want to be found. We needed to bring cows down from the open range before the deep snow falls and they eventually starve.

While all levels of riders can participate in the drive, my group’s experience made City Slickers seem like a walk in the park.

Link to full article


I would love to share this time away from the hustle and bustle of living in the DFW area and reconnect with my wife.
We are both teachers and also the sole caretakers of our moms and seem to never have any time to just relax and do something together.
We both love the winter season and lately we have not been able to even visit our summer cabin in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado.
Spending time together would benefit both of us greatly!

Name: Ted Sealey
City: Plano
State: Texas – November 2011

The Mountain Bike Park at Colorado’s Vista Verde Dude Ranch – by Lois Friedland on Adventure Travel
Bike Terrain Park at Vista Verde Ranch near Steamboat, ColoradoBike Terrain Park at Vista Verde Ranch near Steamboat, Colorado

© 2011 Lois Friedland

A tricky bike terrain park is set up a short bicycle ride from Vista Verde Guest Ranch’s main lodge. In the park, there are obstacles, rails and mini-courses where new mountain bike riders can learn skills, and skilled bicyclists can have a lot of fun.

The terrain park has been set up by Steven King, the biking guide whose skills let him easily balance his bike on a teeter-totter, and weave his way through a narrow rock-lined course then ride a rail at the end. He works with the groups of bicyclists who come to the park to improve their skills.

The course was designed, in part, to occupy the teenagers and other children who visit the ranch and aren’t interested in spending all week on a horse. (The day I was there, a duo of laughing, determined adults were learning to navigate challenges in the park.)


The bike terrain park is also a place to start and learn the skills needed to go on the single-track trails in the surround mountains. Some guests prefer easier routes, like the road that leads to a store where they can get ice-cream cones before riding back to the ranch.

A Winter Escape

I am a hard working, family orientated, red-neck woman otherwise known as the cow woman & horse girl. However, my 12 years of married life to an ex-bull rider has been wrought with trials & tribulations that have brought me to my knees many times and almost cost me my marriage in the recent months. My husband Bryan & I were married in 2001, 4 days after 9-11 happened. I can still remember sitting in the hair dressor’s chair during a moment of silence with tears streaming down my face wondering how I could be happy when so many lives were never going to be the same. We did our best to pay tribute to the tragedy and still have our happy moments that day. For a wedding gift we received a dude ranch vacation in northern Michigan but with all the border issues for travel we delayed the trip byseveral days. As we were leaving our hotel we got the call that Gramma Rita had passed away and we needed to attend a funeral before leaving for our honeymoon. She had held on for us no doubt. Life was good for awhile after this and in 2003 we were expecting our first child. The pregnancy was a bit tough with a couple false labours, excessive weight gain, extra fluid, and then pre-term labour. Sept 5th, 5.5 weeks early, Faydra was born after going through 3 hospitals before finally delivering her. Several weeks in the NICU and we were finally home. Our bliss was to be fairly short lived as something seemed amiss by Christmas with a strange shake in her eyes. A CAT scan revealed a brain tumour behind her nose the size of a golf ball and several tumours in her eyes, CANCER! The treatments begain in a flurry, surgery, chemo, more surgery but we gained precious time. End of intensive treatment came and maintenance brought relief but again to be very short lived with first reoccurence. More treatments again, this time stem cell transplant, scarey to say the least. Remission again. Then worst news of life, tumours spread, no more to try. She died 5 days past 3rd birthday. Happiest little girl you ever met, taught everyone secret of life is not things you own but time, moments & people you have. We can get through this. Shortly there after, happily found out expecting 2nd child. Horrible testing to confirm not sick like first, but get the result we hope but…growth on my ovary increasing in size throughout pregnancy. Unable to confirm cancer or other until birth. C-section baby delivery and Ovary removed, success, NOT CANCER! Healthy, happy Addyson! Fast forward 2 years and decision to adopt a child to complete our family, following suit of my own adoption as an infant. Meet 10 year old, big brother Aaron. Life seems great first year, then school issues begin, lying constantly, and finally discover sibling abuse by Aaron towards Addy. Life shattered again. Couselling and turmoil, courts and pain. All of us left reeling. Addy no more big brother, us no more son. Devastation that tore us apart. Husband and wife hurting so bad, not helping one another anymore, just about heading in different directions. Thought of loss of what we had triggers reaction. Need to hang onto this relationship, we can rebuild what we had. Forgive each other, fight for one another. Reaffirm need to be together. Next step, vacation away together to heal and bond and start new traditions that got lost along the way. An opportunity to have this beautiful winter getaway would mean the world to us and help continue us down our path of healing. Hope you will consider us. Thanks for wonderful opportunity. All the best in 2013.

Name: Angela Fairfield
City: Arthur
State: Ontario – November 2011 Adventure Travel

Happy Hour with the Horses at Vista Verde dude ranch- by Lois Friedland

Wine glass in hand, we strolled around the pasture rubbing the silky hair on the flanks of horses that walked up and nuzzled us gently. Welcome to “Happy Hour With the Horses” at Vista Verde Guest Ranch. In addition to horseback riding, it was just one of the special experiences we enjoyed at this luxury guest ranch near Steamboat, Colorado.

During the time we were at Vista Verde, my husband, Dick, trained for a cattle drive then spent a day on the range bringing an octet of maverick cows back to the pasture for the winter. (As he indicates in his article about the cattle drive, the reality doesn’t resemble scenes from the City Slickers movie.)

I went riding but preferred to spend much of my energy hiking to see Colorado’s fall foliage, biking to watch others practice their skills in a mountain bike terrain park, and sampling rock climbing for the first time.

After a day of “roughing it” in the outdoors, we’d retire to our cabin (where I finally found the honest definition of “rustic luxury”) to clean up. Evenings included leisurely gourmet dinners, chatting with the eclectic mix of guests attracted to the ranch’s smorgasbord of outdoor activities. We’re still in touch with some of the people we met.

On the following photo pages, you’ll learn and see more about the special style of horseback riding at Vista Verde, training for cattle drives, where to go hiking, rock climbing and play in the dude ranch’s bike terrain park.

Link to full article