May 2012

Cowboys and Kayaks

An unlikely combination, cowboys and kayaks, yet it was reality at the ranch this week.  During our orientation weeks, we do try to have a bit of fun.  After spending all day packing information into their brains, it’s nice for the staff to laugh a bit, have some fun and blow off a bit of steam.  The other night, a grill party out on the patio quickly turned into kayak races on the pond when Terry brought out the kayaks he’s been keeping over at his house.

Maybe it is because we have staff who are all high achievers and like to be the best.  I’m not a psychologist, but I have noticed that our staff in general tend to be fairly competitive and always want to win.  With that trait, something like a leisurely boat ride instantly turns into a competition.  So, the paddles were flying, and the peanut gallery was cheering.  Official results will not be posted publicly, as we didn’t have an official scorekeepers.  But, I will say that Dace is awfully aggressive with his paddle when it comes close to the finish line, and it seems that it wasn’t always being used to propel his boat forward.

And, once again, Melissa proved that she is good at everything.  I’ve been hearing these urban legends of her golden touch, and how she is good at anything.  At first, it’s hard to believe, with her quiet manner.  But, I’ve now witnessed her, in just one week,  pull out the unexpected win in bowling and kayaking.  So, keep that in mind when you call the ranch to book your dude ranch vacation and speak with this soft spoke, mild mannered lady.  She’s secretly planning how she will obliterate you in team penning.

The dude ranch staff map

It’s that time of year again.  It’s the time of year when Dace pulls out the big map, and we start sticking pins in it.

Twice a year (once in summer, once in winter), during orientation, the first morning is spent getting to know the crew who will be working for the ranch that season.  Everyone gets pulled up to that frightful (for some) place in front of the fireplace to tell the crew a bit about themselves before grabbing a push pin and placing it on their hometown.  I always get a kick out of looking at the map, and seeing the distribution.  With our strong Indiana ties, it’s always the case that there is a cluster of pins in that state.  But, for a born and bred California girl, I was tickled this year to see so much West Coast representation.  That’s a first that we’ve had so many pins planted West of Colorado.

Today is day two of the 2 week orientation.  In the coming days, we will be spending a lot of time with each crew learning the ins and outs of their department, as well as the dude ranch as a whole.  There is so much to learn, and when you set a goal to be the best dude ranch out there, the pressure is on the staff to learn the ropes quickly and well!  There is also some fun to be had as Dace does a great job of working in some fun evening activities as well as enjoying the mock rides, meals and guided activities.  You see, the servers and kitchen staff get to run through several meals with the staff as their guinea pigs.  The wranglers take out a few rides with the staff.  The guides lead the housekeepers on a bike ride.  All of these fun times are great trial runs for the crews to make sure they have the flow and pacing down right so we are ready for all of you to jump in starting June 3!

For those of you in the last minute stages of planning your dude ranch vacation for this summer, we do have a few spots open due to cancellations.  Right now, we are working on filling a cabin the week of June 10-17 as well as July 29-August 5.  If you can come either of those weeks, give us a call!

Made in America

Charlie, Kyle, Carson and Jason have been busy working on our new cattle pen.  The pen is about 3 times the size of our old one, and designed so we can more easily move cattle in and out.  What I found to be the coolest thing about this pen is that the wood harvested and milled right here on the Vista Verde property.  The guys spent much of the spring milling the wood, and then the last week building the pen.

Because of our growing horse program, we also included four holding pens for any extra horses that need to be kept in from pasture overnight.  This will allow Terry to have a few more horses close to the arena to train.

While the management team spends all day today in our annual spring meetings, the guys are going to enjoy this gorgeous spring day working on finishing the pens, so they are ready for the cows this summer!

The baby stories

Nicky guest blogs for us this week.  She has spent the spring keeping an eye on the broodmares and helping with the new foals.  Her fun stories will give you more insights into foaling season at Vista Verde.

We have talked about having some pregnant broodmares this year with our own studs Whiskey and Gunny. We bred five of our broodmares to Whiskey and two of our broodmares to Gunny.  We first started our breeding program with 5 foals in 2010.  In 2011 we just had 2 foals, and now, in 2012 we decided to go all out and have 7 foals this year.   WOW!  That makes for lots of playing time with foals this year!  I love it when it comes spring time because we have foals on the ground and we get excited because we all start a betting pool on what broodmare will have their foal on what date, and try to also guess what color and gender as well.

If you remember from one of Steph’s past blogs, Marilyn, one of our guest at VVR, got the best experience ever to witness MJ deliever her foal in February.
So MJ (Mary Jane Reyn) was the first broodmare to foal this year.  She delievered a filly named “Bailey” around 6:15am on Feb 18th.  MJ was bred to our stud Whiskey this year so Bailey is going to have red roan hairs on her predominately chestnut body.  She is the smartest out of the other foals we have so far.  Bailey was excited to have a friend to play with finally when Hopalong was born.
Sunday was the second broodmare to foal. This was Sunday’s first time to foal. She delivered a colt named Hopper (also called Hopalong) around 5: 30am On March 27th. We name him Hopalong because he hops every time he takes a step to move. He is the strongest so far out of the four and loves to play with his new friend Bailey and get lots of attention as well since he was the only colt for a while. Sunday was also bred to our stud Whiskey as well.
Then came along Flicka, who was the third broodmare to foal. This is Flicka’s first time to foal. She was bred to Whiskey. She delievered a colt named Rocketman around 5:30am on April 18th. If you have seen the cartoon Looney Tunes, then you’ll understand that we named Rocketman after the character of roadrunner. Rocketman is also going to be a roan as well.
Chex was our fourth broodmare to foal. She was also bred to Whiskey. She delievered a colt named “Chisholm“ on April 25th at at 10 pm. Jess and Reid got to witness the delivery. Also Jess got to video record the delievery as well and you can watch it on the Vista Verde Facebook page called “First steps”. Chisholm is the sweetest out of the five we have so far. He also is the tinyest little guy I have ever seen. He, too, will be a roan.
Lokota is our fifth broodmare to foal. She was bred to Gunny. She delivered a filly named Moonshine or Moonlight Dancing (still debating on name) on May 5 at 10pm, the night of the super moon.  Moonlight is a paint who looks just like her mother. She is the cutest little paint I have seen.

We are just waiting on Rachael and Sassy to decide when to deliver thier foals. We are excited to see what colors and gender the mares will surprise us with. We are just excited for you all to see our new babies this year. I love them all.

So this year Whiskey ruled the ladies, but both boys will have a good harem for the 2013 foal season.

We will keep you posted once the rest of the mares deliever thier babies as well. So get excited because we will have lots of play time with these foals in our weanling clinic we offer in the summer.

Signs of Spring

I returned from a great vacation yesterday, and it was so great to be back at the ranch.  It’s amazing how the place can change so fast.  When I left, there were still little bits of snow on the hillside behind the cabins, some here and there in the pastures, and plenty of mud.  Upon return, I find pastures mostly dried up, grass peeking out, and aspen leaves starting to show their brilliant spring green.  Two foals were born while I was gone, so there are babies romping around all over the pasture at the mare barn.  And, Lakota is due any day now…so many signs of life.

We’re in the official countdown to opening day with just a month to go.  I’m busy getting the guest packet information all trued up and ready to send to those of you coming this summer.  Dace is putting the final touches on the amazing team of people he’s rounded up for the summer dude ranch season.  Terry and Reid and a slew of helpers are tuning up horses, getting them ready for all of you to ride.  We are lucky to have the ability to spend so much time working on our horses in order to improve our guests’ riding experience.  The kitchen is closed down for a couple weeks, so we are all brown bagging it for meals, which is a shock here when we are all so spoiled by great meals the rest of the year.  Charlie and a few ranch hands were moving in new hot tubs on a few cabins yesterday, fixing fence, and getting everything outside tuned up.  Bill is chipping away at his off-season hit list for the cabins, the vehicles and all the ever demanding water system.  So much to do, so little time.

It does seem to be the season for cancellations.  While I was gone, we had 4 cabins fall through, so Melissa was busy calling people on the wait list, and I am trying to fill back in those holes now that I’m back.  If you are still interested in a summer visit, let me know as we may have a spot!  There isn’t a whole lot for July or August, but there is some room in June at this point if you still want to plan a family vacation in Colorado.

This week I will get some photos up on Facebook and on this blog so you can see the transition of the seasons at the ranch.  It’s exciting to feel it in the air!

5280 Magazine – May 2012

Back at the Ranch – 5280 Magazine – by Lindsey Koehler

Vista Verde Guest Ranch

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

The sound of cowboy boots two-stepping across a wooden floor isn’t something you hear often within Denver city limits. But at Vista Verde Guest Ranch, you can listen to that heavy plodding—that is, big-belt-buckle-wearing men dancing with ladies in black Stetson hats—at its weekly old-fashioned barn dance. And if you’re sitting alone, tapping those newly purchased boots, it’ll only be a matter of moments before a polite young wrangler puts out his hand.

That well-mannered, congenial attitude permeates this small guest ranch situated on a petite parcel of land 27 miles outside of Steamboat Springs. No matter what you happen to be doing—sitting by the lake taking in the sunset or watching a band of horses graze in a nearby pasture—someone from the Vista Verde staff will ask if you need anything, and then smile and give a tip of the hat when you say you’re doing just fine. The truth is, you likely are doing better than fine because you spent the morning on a cattle roundup, ate a hearty lunch on the outdoor patio, took a short hike in the Zirkel Wilderness Area in the early afternoon, and now you’re nursing a beer while you wait for dinner to be served in the main dining room. Life is good here at the ranch.

In fact, at Vista Verde, the most stress-inducing decisions come in two categories: what to eat for dinner (there’s a choice of three entrées each night) and what to do after dinner (check out that barn dance or retire to your cabin’s outdoor hot tub to look at the stars). Fortunately, you can’t really go wrong with whatever choice you make.

The same can be said for the ranch’s recreational options. Most guests choose Vista Verde for its well-regarded horse program, which mixes clinics with trail rides and caters to every ability level. Ranch trainer Terry Wegener, along with a group of wranglers, seems to be able to teach guests more about horsemanship in one week than most others could in months. But if four-legged fun isn’t your thing, Vista Verde employs a host of guides—usually college-age kids with a ton of energy and skill—that can take you mountain biking, fly-fishing, and hiking whenever the mood strikes. And to be honest, it’s the overall mood—that balance of eager-to-please service, casual friendliness, and upscale amenities—at Vista Verde that makes it so darn enticing.

The Details

You’ll Love It If… You’re a wannabe horseman or horsewoman—or an advanced equestrian—looking to improve your skills at a riding-oriented ranch.

High Praise The accommodations here are sublime. The two-story Little Agnes “cabin” has plush linens, a small kitchen, a sitting room with a wood stove, a king-bed master suite, a queen-bed guest room, two bathrooms (one with a giant shower), and a front deck with a hot tub.

The Low Down Although Vista Verde offers fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and other activities, many are not available on the ranch’s nearly 600-acre property, which can mean a long drive to reach your adventure.

Cost All-inclusive rates depend on accommodations and time of year, but a cabin generally runs $3,900 per week per person. Vista Verde does stay open for much of the winter season.