August at the Covered Wagon!

August 26th, 2016 by coveredwagonranch

Howdy from the Covered Wagon!

We are halfway through the summer season, and it keeps getting better! We have enjoyed being reunited with our return guests and getting to meet all of our lovely new families. Our guests have been enjoying plenty of sunshine and beautiful views! It has been quite warm lately, so we take advantage of the Taylor Fork Creek and Gallatin River whenever we get a chance. We’ve made a few float trips down the Gallatin, and our horses always stop to enjoy a nice drink when they get to cross!

AugBlog1

We have already started booking for 2017 and 2018 – some weeks for 2017 have even sold out already! If you’re considering coming to the ranch next year, don’t wait too long to call us so we can book your spot! You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to see views like this every day!

AugBlog2

As some of you know, we have had a few horses get hurt over the past few months. We wanted to give you all an update on how our horses are doing! Deuce has been a long-time guest favorite, and he was hurt this past spring. When our horses are out in winter pasture, we go check on them one to two times a week. Will King, who previously owned the Covered Wagon, was checking on our horses this winter and found Deuce. He fell through a bridge up in winter pasture. Will didn’t have a trailer with him, so he called Keaton who came and got Deuce and took him to the vet. In the picture below on the left is what his injury looked like three months ago when it happened. Deuce has been on stall rest, having his leg doctored and wrapped, but he is making progress! In the picture below on the right is how his injury looks now. Our long time guest Mary Caudill was at the ranch at the end of June and absolutely adores Deuce. After spending some quality time with Mary, Deuce seemed to really cheer up and started gaining weight back and venturing out for a little bit of exercise every day! He is on the road to recovery and soon will be retiring to a new home in North Dakota with our long time guests Deb and Boyd Addy!

AugBlog3 AugBlog4

Nikita got hurt last September coming out of hunting camp. Kurt raised Nikita, and we have her mama, Ojos, at the ranch too! Casey Gruber from the Red Lodge Veterinary Clinic has been helping Nikita with her road to recovery. Casey said the injury Nikita has is quite severe and multiple bone, joint, and soft-tissue structures were compromised in her right front foot. The damage she has cannot be fixed or reversed, but our main goal from the start has been to find a comfort zone within the foot that providers Nikita the most pain relief and allow time for the body to stabilize the area with the goal and hope that eventually, Nikita may be able to support her own weight on the foot without the need of a brace and have a good quality of life. Recently, Nikita’s foot has reduced in size and her heel has contracted. She has developed some arthritis in the coffin joint and has a large amount of soft-tissue damage as well. We are working with our local vet now, who has also worked with Casey, to find the best solution that will stabilize Nikita’s foot and give her the most comfort. We are coming up on a year since Nikita was injured, and she has been such a trooper! Nikita is such a gentle mare, and everyone who meets her can’t help but fall in love with her!

AugBlog5

Cheyenne has also been a long-time guest favorite of ours. A few weeks ago she cut her eye, and she had surgery to repair the eye. The surgery was successful, and Cheyenne was on the mend, but then she ended up getting an abscess in that same eye. Our vet tried everything they could to save Cheyenne’s eye, unfortunately we ended up having to remove her eye. This does not affect Cheyenne’s quality of life one bit! She came home and stayed in a stall for a week, adjusting to life with one eye. She is now out in a corral with her buddy Zorro getting used to her new field of vision! Cheyenne is such a sweet mare, and we are so happy to have her back home!

AugBlog6 AugBlog7

Our hurt horses are on the mend, the rest of our herd is fat and happy, and we are loving every minute of this summer! Summer will soon start turning to fall, and we are looking forward to the changing colors! Our September guests will be here before we know it! Hope everyone’s summer has been as fabulous as ours!

AugBlog8

Happy Trails

~Samantha

It’s July, Oh My!

July 16th, 2016 by coveredwagonranch

Hello from the Covered Wagon Ranch!

It is yet another beautiful July, and we are thoroughly enjoying the warm weather, our amazing guests, and awesome rides! We are extremely blessed to be completely booked up for the 2016 season, and we are already booking for 2017 and 2018! We are having a blast with all of our return and new guests! Can’t wait for everyone else to get here and wake up to beautiful views like this every morning!

julyblog1

All of our trails are officially open, so our guests are getting to enjoy all the beautiful Montana countryside views! Our horses are fat and happy and loving their job! Check out this picture of Fred and Harvey – our largest horse right next to our smallest pony ha!

julyblog2

Our guests are enjoying all the wonderful activities Montana and the ranch has to offer! We’ve had quite a few fly fishermen come back from successful fishing trips! The whole crew and all our guests floated down the Madison River to celebrate the 4th of July! Some of our guests have ventured out to go whitewater rafting and ziplining as well! We’re still seeing a little bit of wildlife as well – we’ve seen moose, elk, mule deer, marmots, and some guests have even spotted grizzly bears!

julyblog3

The Friday night cookout is also back in action! Rich and Tana continue to play wonderful music for us! Our guests are enjoying delicious food, playing horse shoes, learning how to rope, dancing, singing, and even jump roping!! 

julyblog4

We are so excited for the rest of our guests to get here!! Looking forward to many more amazing rides, meals, cookouts, and so much more fun! We hope everyone continues to have a wonderful summer and will see many of you soon!

julyblog5

Happy Trails,

~Samantha

Summer Lovin’

June 26th, 2016 by coveredwagonranch

Hey y’all!

The Covered Wagon summer season is officially underway! This month has been a whirlwind of projects, spring cleaning, meeting new crew, and getting our first guests in. We love seeing our return guests, and we are having a blast meeting all of our new additions to the Covered Wagon family! The summer season is in full swing now, and we are taking our guests out on lots of amazing rides!

1juneblog 

4juneblog

Our horses are feeling fresh and getting back into shape. We also have a lot of young colts Jeremiah is working with. Our newest addition to the herd is Rita’s baby, Dollar. He is having a ball grazing with all his girls and getting love and attention from all our guests!

2juneblog

Yesterday we had the first wrangle of the season and sent our horses up to top pasture to enjoy a nice day off. As you can see we’ve had some beautiful weather up here in the canyon the past couple of weeks. We can’t wait for all of our guests to get out here and experience the beautiful scenery, wildlife, and of course horses with us!

3juneblog

This season is shaping up to be the best one yet! Don’t forget to check out the Covered Wagon’s new Instagram and Pinterest accounts! Stay tuned for more fun pictures to come!

 

Happy Summer,

~Samantha

 

Meet Melissa’s new right hand at the Covered Wagon!

May 25th, 2016 by coveredwagonranch

sam1Hello from the Covered Wagon! Spring is in full swing, and we are gearing up for another great season! My name is Samantha Lee, and I am Melissa’s new office manager and right hand woman for this summer! I wanted to introduce myself and give you all a little background on myself. I was born and raised in Suwanee, Georgia – a little bit north of Atlanta, and recently graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in Communication and Public Relations. I have known Kurt practically my whole life – he was my bus driver for several years when I was in elementary school! His parents also worked with my parents and live in the same county. My mom and I came out to the Covered Wagon several times when I was younger to visit Kurt, ride horses, and see the beautiful Montana countryside!

sam2I was never able to come work for Kurt and Melissa while I was in school since I would start back school in August, and as you all know the Covered Wagon season runs through the end of September/beginning of October. Working at the Covered Wagon is something that I have been wanting to do for a really long time, and I just felt this pull to come out to the ranch and Montana. Now that I have graduated, I finally got to come out to the ranch to be a part of the crew and Covered Wagon family! I am extremely passionate about horses and people, and wanted to use these passions to help make Covered Wagon guests stay on the ranch even more memorable.

I have been riding since I was seven years old; in fact my very first horse, a black Quarter Horse gelding named Pete, came from the Covered Wagon! Kurt thought that Pete and I would be a good fit, and boy was he right! Pete taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined. He was a quirky horse with lots of personality, and he taught me to be tough and a better rider.

sam3I am so excited to be a part of the Covered Wagon family this summer! Melissa has been telling me all about our guests we are expecting this summer, and I can’t wait to meet you all! We have a lot of fun things in store for this summer and a great crew ready to welcome you all. Be sure to keep up with our Facebook page for updates and pictures from this season. We are also getting our Pinterest page and Instagram up and running, so be on the lookout for those! We hope you all have a fabulous Memorial Day weekend and look forward to having you all at the ranch!

~Samantha

What Makes Covered Wagon Ranch Horses So Special?

April 25th, 2016 by coveredwagonranch

I get asked this question almost weekly when people are thinking of coming to the ranch so I thought I would touch base on it. Kurt and I are very adamant about our horses being ‘the best’ so we work really hard on finding ones that fit the bill. Kurt has been here since 1998 minus (3 years) so all the horses that we have he has either raised or had a hand in purchasing all but maybe 5-6. So with that being said we know our stock.  We have 93 head of horses and mules and we own every single one of them. kym2

We do not lease horses from people or lease out our horses. We run almost all Quarter Horses, but we do have a handful of other breeds including Harvey the Icelandic Pony!  HarveyWe are also unique in that when winter pasture just isn’t quite enough for our horses and they have done their job but creeping up on age we retire them out. We DO NOT do what almost every other business does; we are too soft for that. They have done their job, changed thousands of people’s lives, made a ton of people smile, and made the ranch money so why not let a kid feed them carrots the rest of their life? Just because they are done at the ranch doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed by a couple, family, or a child. Our ‘retirees’ are spread out across the country! Here are some of our ‘retirees’ in their new homes. RetireeJoseph was at the ranch from when he was 2 years old until her was almost 30. He is now 33 years old and living the life!

My bookkeeper’s daughters have two (who they use in 4-H), another little girl in the valley has one she uses in 4-H, another family in Livingston have a handful they trail ride on, long time guests have about 8 in North Dakota,Retiree2

there is a handful in West Memphis at another long time guests and in Somerville, TN at our longest continuing guest there is about 10 horses and mules. retiree3We find homes for them when they are done at the ranch, but not done in general. We do not let them get to that stage before retiring them out.retiree4

 The horses at the ranch are SPECIAL; they are our number one employees. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have guests or a business so it is crucial they are top notch. Both Kurt and I grew up with horses so we have a very strong knowledge of horses and because we know this business inside and out we know what works and doesn’t work for the ranch. I am not a fan of the term ‘Dude’ so I always say guests or guest ranch, the reason behind this is our horses are so much more than a ‘dude horse’ and our guests are so much more than a ‘dude.’ Are they safe enough for somebody who has never seen a horse before? Absolutely, but they are also enjoyed by those people that have horses of their own. Kym

That same horse that I can put a six year old kid on, I can put an adult who has rode their whole life and I can turn around and rope, gather, or do a job on and everyone will enjoy them. We have found that is the goal to having a horse that ‘loves his job.’ retiree6We are known for our riding program and our horses do not get sour because of the way our horse program is setup. We offer half day rides or full day rides. We do not offer two half days because our horses will get sour. Just like a person if you went to work, got sent home, then you had to turn around and go back to work you wouldn’t be pleased about it because you thought you were done. Well horses work the same way. We try and give them time off, so if they went this week they most likely won’t go the next week. Our horses work extremely hard for six months of the year, the other six months of the year they get to be horses in their natural environment typically in a 2,500 acre pasture roaming freely and then they return the spring of the year to go back to work. Horses need time off or they will go sour it is that simple. retiree5

We CARE….Kurt and I are extremely passionate about our horses and what we do. All of our horses have a story and there is a book in the main lodge that tells their story. Some of our horses are rescues with really sad pasts, some are extremely well bred, some of them we raised and some just needed a job so we ended up with them. Generally around 3-4 times a year I get a phone call or have a set-down conversation about a horse somebody wants us to have because of the home it would have at the ranch. Last fall, a guest sat down with me and told me the story of her rescue horse that needed a job and miles and she just didn’t have the time he needed or deserves, but she really wanted him to be a member of the ranch. That horse made the trip from Florida in October and spent his first winter at the ranch. My cousin called me up a few months ago and told me of her horse Whitney. It was her father’s horse and since he passed away she hasn’t been getting rode, but they couldn’t part with it because of it being her father’s horse, but she knew it needed a job and they didn’t want her to go to a random home….so her new home is the Covered Wagon. Last June, I bought a mom and her twin babies….yes TWIN BABIES. Will they ever be big enough to ride? Maybe not, but they are loved, have a fat belly, and they are a great conversation piece and the kids love them! Last week we bought four really well bred Quarter Horses that have a great mind and confirmation. What I am saying is it doesn’t necessarily matter to me their color, breeding, size, shape or their past. We know what works for this ranch and we create really nice horses. Every year we have guests approach us about a horse they have fallen in love with and want to buy.

Retiree7                                     Kane’s new zip code is CT!

Are we in the horse selling business? No, but if it is the right thing to do and the right home we will sell one. Our horses are just special.

The Covered Wagon Ranch is a unique place and our horses are even more so, ask any of our guests!  I have learned a lot since coming here, but the biggest thing I have learned is you never know the reasoning why somebody have chosen to come to the ranch and ride a horse, or how much that horse can truly change their life. I am living proof of it; Two Ton changed everything for me.       

Melissa

What’s Happening at the Ranch?

March 9th, 2016 by coveredwagonranch

Hello from the Covered Wagon and the Pucketts! Things around here have been pretty hectic and busy! We have had a very strange winter and are being teased with the idea of spring. Although we still have a foot and half of snow at the ranch it is rapidly leaving and the valley is dry and gorgeous! We are excited for spring because that means projects and preparing for another season at the ranch. So what has been happening here in our part of the world?

BRP4

The horses are back at Hollow Top Ranch and enjoying their time off. They work extremely hard for six months of the year and get to be horses and enjoy life in their natural environment the other six months of the year. They LOVE their jobs and what they do. There is nothing more humbling then going to winter pasture and seeing 75 head of horses running and playing together. The temperatures are quite a bit warmer at winter pasture and it is lower elevation so they do not get the snow we do at the ranch. It is already feeling like spring over there and it won’t be long and the grass will be turning green. Last Friday we brought in Rita (Miranda’s Mom) in from pasture because she is due to foal next month. We are excited to have another baby on the ranch this spring and the end of May we will gather up the herd and bring the rest of them home to prepare for guests arrival. Until then they will continue to enjoy pasture and their time off.

So many of you stay in contact with us throughout the year and frequently check in on the busy toddler.

BRP3

Braxton just turned 2 and is growing like a weed and is so busy. He had surgery on January 4th and got tubes in his ears and his tonsils and adenoids taken out and he is a completely different kid. He is into everything and loves climbing on things. He has to be right there underfoot and have his hand in everything we do. Kurt and I just pack him with and he loves the tractor and the horses.

BRP6BRP

Of course Two Ton is on the top of his list and he would spend all afternoon riding if we let him. He loves to ride. He is also quite the music man. Kurt’s parents had Kurt’s guitar he had as a kid restored for Braxton and he plays his while daddy plays almost every day. He will be all practiced up for this summer’s Friday Night Cookout!

BRP7

I am not sure who is more excited for the snow to be gone and spring to get here Kurt or me! We have quite a few colts we will be starting this spring and Kurt definitely has a passion for it. He also has a long honey do list of things that need to get done this spring and ideas for making the ranch better. Braxton and him are pretty big buddies and seem to always being getting into some kind of trouble together.   

As for me I am doing good and finding the joy in life more than ever. In February I lost my grandmother who had a big part in raising me and my love and passion for horses. As hard as it has been in losing her I found myself more than ever and feel her with me when I ride. One of my New Year’s goals was to pursue my dream to barrel race like she did and Kurt has been right there supporting me 100%. We had the opportunity to go to a Martha Josey Clinic in New Mexico last month and I learned so much information and had a great time. We have been hitting up the local jackpots and hopefully this summer you will see me competing in the rodeo every Wednesday night!

The ranch is doing great and reservations are amazing! We are almost completely booked up for this summer and weeks are already being sold out for next summer. We are so blessed to have you as our ranch family and let us do what we love. We are beyond excited for this summer and everything has in store for us! In the meantime continue to follow us and like our Facebook page if you haven’t already done so!

Happy Trails,

Melissa      

 

“Do you want a horse or do you want this horse?”

February 4th, 2016 by coveredwagonranch

Two TOn8

Some horses are extra special and Two Ton is one of those horses. Last spring my phone rang and my dad was on the other end. He mentioned there was a gentleman who was selling out of his trail riding business and had some horses and tack for sale. Immediately Kurt gave him a call and we arranged a time to come look at his horses.

 As we drove over to this man’s place we had a certain kind of horse in mind. We were in need of some big thick boned horses that had some draft cross in them. We wanted a horse that had been proven to go down the trail safely with guests, something that was sure footed, big boned, and able to go into the string. Kurt reiterated this several times to me that these were the ONLY horses we were looking for. As we pull in the driveway we are met with this spit fire little punchy cowboy who was about 14 years old. “which one ya interested in?” he asks. As we made our way through each horse looking at them, riding them, picking feet up and of course asking lots of questions we had a handful picked out. When over my shoulder in this pen about 100 yards from us was this soggy Chestnut Quarter Hors gelding who could stand 300 pounds put on him. I asked my new punchy cowboy friend who that was and he replied “that is old Two Ton.” Next thing I know the boy is off to go get him. To my surprise he returns bareback in a halter. He slides off him and looks at me and says “go ahead give him a try.” Now let me set the scene here….I have NEVER got on a horse I do not know bareback, but for some reason this horse didn’t worry me one bit. His eyes were sincere. They were different than any horse I have ever known. He looked at me and I had a connection with him. I felt safe immediately so to my husband and my surprise I climbed on. Two Ton was as soft as ever in the mouth even with just a halter. He spun a hole in the ground and next thing I know we are trotting across the pasture (which was not very comfy considering his wither was sticking up and as I mentioned previously he could stand about 300 pounds on him). I slid off the side of him and looked at Kurt. He knew it was over.

As we were narrowing the horses down we had Fred, Goliath, and Tanner picked out when we came back by Two Ton. I looked at Kurt and described the feeling I had and that I just HAD to have him. He argued that we came here for a distinct kind of horse and he isn’t it and he is pretty poor. But I shrugged it off and we left that day with Two Ton in the trailer.

For the next month Two Ton stood in the back of the corral. He had a 1200 pound alfalfa-grass round bale in front of him and he barely ate and he wasn’t gaining much for weight. So away we went to the vet. Several questions came up at the vet….could he be older than we thought and that is why he is poor and not gaining weight? Is he a hard keeper? Do his teeth need floated? Does he have something that is causing him to not be able to gain weight? So Two Ton spent most of the day at the vet and we left with no answers. So we thought maybe we should just give him time. Another month passed and we returned to the vet for more blood work and left that day with the conclusion he was depressed…. So how is it you get a horse happy again?

Two Ton6

We started giving Two Ton grain 2 x day and the weight was slowly coming on but not as fast as we wanted it to. One afternoon Kurt decided to grab him and rope off of him. We were in the arena playing with the hot heels and Two Ton’s ears laid back and he went straight to the hot heels like he had done it his whole life. Over the next week we roped off of Two Ton several times and Two Ton starting meeting us at the gate for his grain and he started gaining weight and his eyes changed. They lit up and he turned into a whole new horse. We contacted the previous owners and asked where he came from. They told us he was a solid ranch horse from Nevada. When they bought him they used him for day rides. This horse that had a job, started going a 1 and 2 hour day rides and he lost his spirit. That day watching Kurt rope off this horse changed everything. Kurt gave away all his personal horses to the wranglers and then onto the guests. I looked at him and said “That is your personal horse.”

Two Ton5

Over the next couple of months we learned Two Ton’s personality and everyone fell in love with him. We had a guest that even wanted to buy him. He was the first one to greet you, he started getting a big belly. If he was ignored he would lift his front leg up in the air and rest it on the fence or the gate! He was more of a dog then any horse I had ever been around. It got to the point that we would open the gate for him to get his grain and he would walk straight to the grain bin. Twoton8Our son Braxton would lead him around climb all over him and he absolutely loved kids. He became part of our family and everyone fell in love with him from guests to my husband. That horse was just special.

Two Ton 3

In September, our businesses overlap and some of our horses go to camp. Two Ton was fat and needed to go to work. Kurt argued that he was better at the ranch and I made him take him to camp. That week at camp our horse Nikita (I will tell you her story in the future) got severely hurt and was extremely hard on us. 3 days later while still trying to get through Nikita getting hurt I get a radio call from Kurt “Good morning Covered Wagon.” My stomach sank knowing I shouldn’t be hearing from Kurt. I asked him why he was home and he responded “one of our horses is acting colicky.” Needless to say it was Two Ton. Kurt assured me it wasn’t a bad case. He had given him Banamine and away Eryn went with Two Ton to the vet. Kurt and I called Dr. Tami Parrott and Dr. Gordon Hardaway at Hardaway Vet and told them the situation. We said we were not interested in Colic surgery as we have been down that path before (the horse we did surgery on made it through surgery and then died of a blood clot). I could not fathom going through that again. Kurt kept reiterating to me it wasn’t a bad colic and that we have had a lot worse cases and to relax a little bit.

As we are shuffling trailers and out of cell service we get a radio call from our chef Bradley “you need to call the vet, they need permission to put Two Ton down he is in a lot of pain.” I came apart and became an emotional disaster. I was so upset I couldn’t hold myself together. I was sobbing and in between sobs I told Kurt we have to do surgery and we will figure it out knowing the surgery would be well over $10,000. We called the vet(s) and they told us they thought it was too late for his surgery. It seemed like we were back and forth phone calls when Dr. Hardaway calls us back tells us they hopped Two Ton on their personal horse trailer and drove him out to Montana Equine (the surgery center) in hopes of still being able to do the surgery.  Let me set the scene again…here are two vets that are extremely busy and dedicated to their work and they take their personal trailer and drive 20 minutes one way to take a horse they are pretty sure is not going to make it to another vet.  This is the same vet that saved our dog Pax’s life and why we love them so much. They are beyond dedicated.  Okay back to my story. Dr. Parrott tells us that once they open him up they will determine how bad he is and if they don’t think they can do the surgery they will put him down on the table. The next five hours my stomach was in a huge knot and I was restless and emotional. We get a phone call that Two Ton made it through surgery and he was in the recovery room, (I hate buts) but the next 72 hours are critical. Over the course of the next 48 hours we were checking in on Two Ton and he was doing great.

Tow Ton7

72 hours post-surgery I stop in at the vet. They told us he was like a human patient in that the more visitors the less likely he would be to get depressed and go downhill. I asked my dad to meet me at the surgery center. As I walk in I see my soggy chestnut gelding in a stall with his head down in the corner. I call out “Two Ton!” and his head lifted up. The next 30 minutes changed my life and the feeling cannot be described in words but I will try. I entered the 12X12 stall filled with shavings and approached my boy. As I stroked his side tears started to rush down my face. I loved and loved on him. I studied his belly where the incision was and everything else escaped me. The only thing on my mind was this horse….this horse that I wasn’t supposed to have…this horse that was so sad and lost, this horse that I trust more then any horse I have ever known. And the tears overwhelmed me. At this moment Two Ton put his head in my arms and there it sat for a good five minutes. I just held him and looked into his eyes. The same eyes that brought him to me and that is when everything changed…… He looked deep inside me as if to say “It’s okay, you are going to be okay, thank you for never giving up on me.” You can think I am crazy some people do. But that horse changed my life that day. That horse healed me in ways I didn’t think was possible.

Twoton4

I stepped out of the stall and looked at my dad who stood there with a smile on his face, someone who knows me very well. “Do you think I am crazy?” I was hesitant on the response. “No, not at all.” The man that I adore and love so much understood why I had to do what I did.  

I started to talk to the vet and discuss the next days, months, etc. Over the course of the next week we visited him regularly until he got to return home with us. Once at home he was still not in the clear, but one day closer to being better. He had a pretty intense regime schedule we had to stick it and pretty soon Two Ton was over the schedule and escaping from the stall and pawing once again. The next couple of months were pretty hard on him staying isolated and letting the incision heal.  About 3 weeks ago we got the clear for him to go back to light riding. Needless to say he has wintered A LOT better this year and is as fat as a butter ball.  We took him to our neighbors’ indoor arena and rode him. All the emotions came back to me as Braxton and I rode Two Ton in a halter around the arena.  

Two Ton

Today, we are almost 16 weeks post-surgery and Two Ton is doing great. He is back with his friends and we decided to give Two Ton to our 2 year old son Braxton. Dr. Flint, the Vet that did Two Ton’s surgery asked me when I was visiting him one time. “Do you want a horse or do you want this horse?” Dr. Flint told me people always ask if they should do the surgery or what he would do. I will never forget that quote and it fits Two Ton so well. Of course I could have  put him down and went and bought another horse, but I didn’t want another horse. I wanted that horse, just like the day we first saw him. I had to have THAT horse. Life gives us choices and they are not always the easiest but I know with all my heart we did the right thing. We love what we do and we have almost 90 head of horses and I love them all for different reasons, but there is something different about Two Ton something extra special. We have a bond I have never had in a horse and for that reason he will be with us forever.

TwoTon2

Melissa-

Covered Wagon Ranch

Big Sky, MT

www.coveredwagonranch.com

The End of a Season

October 20th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

Always with a View.

Always with a View. Courtesy of Crysta Kirby.

Well, this post may be slightly tardy but it is still important! We have had another wonderfully successful season here at the Covered Wagon Ranch in 2015. Great rides, cook outs, music, meals, friends, and family. And I for one, would love to say thank you to all of those who made it happen: our amazing crew, and our fantastic guests.

Grazing in the fall. Courtesy of Shea Burk

Grazing in the fall. Courtesy of Shea Burk

We say it all the time here, but we really do have the best guests in the world. I know it probably sounds like a line, but if you have stayed here for any time at all, you know it is true. Somehow Covered Wagon just manages to draw the kindest, most generous people out of the world and bring them to the ranch. And I know Kurt, Melissa, Braxton, and myself are eternally grateful.

Our horses on pasture one morning. Courtesy of Keaton Mares.

Our horses on pasture one morning. Courtesy of Keaton Mares.

It is always said many times a season, but it bears repeating: you all are the reason we get to do what we love when we get up every morning. You enable all of us silly folks to get to live in the amazing country that we do, and explore more of it year after year. You keep our horses healthy, our crew happy, and all of us engaged in a job most people don’t even consider a possibility. So thank you, all of our 2015, past and future guests! You really make our seasons memorable, year after year.

Montana in the fall.

Montana in the fall.

Speaking of the 2016 season, if you are thinking of booking with us – for the first time or again, please do it soon! We are filling up incredibly fast (for which we are again blessed), but we don’t want you to miss your spot! So give us a call anytime, and join our fabulous roster of guests who stay with us. Have a wonderful fall!

See you next year!

See you next year!

Recipes and August Updates, Oh My!

August 27th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

Hey there!

So if you all are keeping up with our Facebook page, you know that this summer has been fantastic 🙂 We have been amazingly booked, and have loved meeting all of our new people, and reuniting with our return guests! We have been going on new trails, finding the most beautiful lunch spots, and thoroughly enjoying our gorgeous backyard.

Those ear photos!

Those ear photos!

As I have been posting, we have been extremely fortunate in reservations for 2016 as well. We are 85% booked for next July, and are filling up for August too – so make those reservations quickly, folks! I don’t want you to miss out!

You can't miss this :)

You can’t miss this :)

August has been very kind to us here at Covered Wagon. The weather has been sunny and warm, with a shower here or there to keep us on our toes. While some days we have some smoke drifting in from all of those fires, our pasture is green and the grass is knee-high. Flowers are still out and about, and we have been lucky enough to catch some wildlife hanging out too! We have seen grizzly and black bears, moose, elk, deer, eagles, hawks, goats, sheep, and the occasional wolf too!

Have I mentioned our pack trips too?

Have I mentioned our pack trips too?

Oh hey there!

Oh hey there!

And now for the fun stuff:

Bradley, our breakfast-lunch chef, has earned some acclaim this season for his fabulous cookies. And he has been nice enough to share a basic recipe with me so I can share it with all of you! Our crew for sure has been enjoying cookies all summer long 🙂

Here it is:

1 cup of sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 sticks of butter

Cream the above together in a bowl

Then add: 3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

And mix together.

In a separate bowl, add: 3 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Mix together and add to original bowl

 

Complete the recipe with “whatever tickles your fancy. Chocolate chips, m&m’s, peanut butter, quail eggs, etc!”

We thank Bradley for his wonderful cookies and the recipe to make them! Let us know how yours turn out 🙂

Cookies are necessary fuel for trail rides. Just ask our crew :)

Cookies are necessary fuel for trail rides. Just ask our crew :)

Hope everyone’s summer is going fantastically, and we can’t wait for all of our September guests to get here too! Those colors will be coming out soon, so enjoy these last few days of summer!

We sure will!

We sure will!

-Eryn

Happy Summer from CWR

July 19th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

Well, summer is officially in full swing. We have been open for over a month and a half now and every day is just flying by! We have had some gorgeous weather, with temperatures ranging from the fifties to the nineties during the day. Earlier in the month it was very unusually hot for us, but now it has calmed down to the normal mid-70s and low 80s during the day, with an afternoon shower or two. Montana is definitely showing her fickle sense of humor again with our weather. But when it is hot out, never fear, we still have a ton of fun both on and off the trail!

Summer Views!

Summer Views!

All of our trails are open now, so we are truly riding around 100 of them, from Big Sky into Yellowstone National Park. Our new horses are fitting right in with the rest of them, and our new crew are fitting right in too! We all have a ton of fun together, and love to participate in the same activities that our guests do! To cool off on hot days, tubing down the Gallatin River is just the trick. Our wranglers, kitchen staff, front of house staff, and of course our guests all love to jump in tubes at the Yellowstone boundary and see how far we make it down river 🙂 Of course, waving to the fly fishermen is a must.

Tubing down the Gallatin!

Tubing down the Gallatin!

And our riding, as always, is still the star here. We have had some really gorgeous days out, and the wildflowers are still absolutely stunning this year. The Indian Paintbrush has finally made an appearance on ranch (my favorite). And we have still been seeing some wildlife too, even with the heat! Moose, bears, elk, deer, foxes, various hawks and eagles, and of course the ever popular chipmunks have been spotted all around our trails. As one of our guests said this week, there are also always the exciting “humans in their natural environment sporting hiking gear” as well.

Look! A Horse!

Look! A Horse!

Fly fishing is having a wonderful year out here as well. Just ask me (Eryn) or Melissa for the fly fishing report that we get daily and head out to fish! We have had many guests enjoy that this year, and our crew is really getting into it too! I personally can’t wait to try all of our activities and really have some fun this summer, in all of our crazy temperatures!

We love our backyard :)

We love our backyard :)

Hope everyone’s summer is going well and is very relaxing 🙂 Can’t wait to see all of you who haven’t arrived yet, and here’s to more wonderful things to come!

Happy Summer!

Happy Summer!

Summer at the CWR

June 16th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

Well it’s official! We are up and underway, and our first couple weeks have went wonderfully. June in Montana has been very kind this year. Our wildflowers are out and looking gorgeous thanks to our rainy spring, and the wildlife has been out in abundance as well. Some of our rides have been lucky enough to spot grizzly bears, black bears, moose, elk, deer, and bald eagles. We have also had a little fox hanging around the ranch too! Of course, we don’t have a “wildlife” button, but we will try to find some for you guys when you come out here!

Our wranglers have been great about taking pictures - and I am great at stealing them :)

Our wranglers have been great about taking pictures – and I am great at stealing them :)

Our newest addition is also having the best time hanging out with our guests. As you saw on Facebook, Big Nose Kate had her baby girl about two weeks ago now. She doesn’t have a name yet, but she sure has a big personality! She is loving all of the attention she is getting, and is one of the friendliest little foals I have ever seen. Within a few hours of being born she wanted to see the world and meet all her new people 🙂

The cutest thing...

The cutest thing…

The weather has been pretty great for us thus far too (minus raining out our cookout last week of course!), highs in the 60s and 70s with just an afternoon shower or two. We are so excited for our summer season and can’t wait for you all to get here and meet our new horses and crew!

Gotta love our lunch spots!

Gotta love our lunch spots!

Happy Summer everyone 🙂

-Eryn

Spring Again!

May 25th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

Hey there! Hope everyone’s Spring is going wonderfully. Here at Covered Wagon, we are gearing up to be in full swing. We finally have all of our 2015 crew, and we are so excited for you to meet them. All of our horses have also made their way back here from winter pasture as well, and they are looking great! It is a special year here, as it is our 90th Anniversary, so look for some extra little touches in the gift shop and everywhere. We are so fortunate to have been running for so long, and it is definitely thanks to all of you guests, both new and return, so thank you so much!

IMG_0839

Of course, Spring on the ranch means that it is officially project season. For you return guests, you will definitely notice some changes here this year! (All for the better, we promise). We have rebuilt our corrals and leveled them, added a pole barn, reconfigured our tack and tool barns, added a guest shed and a vet shed, and put in an arena and a new round pen – and that’s just down at the barn! We have been hard at work making improvements all over the ranch, including the kitchen, lodge, and other areas you will be sure to notice 🙂

Our new top corral. Our brand new arena will also be used to give you guys any lessons, and we have added a larger round pen so everyone can watch our wonderful wranglers work with their horses!

Our new top corral. Our brand new arena will also be used to give you guys any lessons, and we have added a larger round pen so everyone can watch our wonderful wranglers work with their horses!

We have also added a few things for the kiddos, and we can’t wait to see them put to good use.

One of our new playgrounds - complete with slide :)

One of our new playgrounds – complete with slide :)

And our new swing-set - right by the Rec Hall so kids can have more space to play at the cookout!

And our new swing-set – right by the Rec Hall so kids can have more space to play at the cookout!

We are very excited to everyone to arrive, and you guys will be seeing a lot of familiar faces on the crew here! Austin, Keaton, Taylor, Sabrina, Sharon, Minda, and of course me (Eryn) are all back again working for you guys this summer. And our newbies are fitting right in! We have a great feeling about this summer – now we just need it to hurry up and get here!

IMG_0838

Hope everyone is having an amazing Memorial Day weekend, and thank you all so much for sending in your photos as well to help with our 90th Anniversary project. Keep them coming!

Happy Spring!

March 27th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

Hey there! We hope everyone is still having a wonderful winter, and that like us, you guys are enjoying the transition into Spring. It has been a very strange Winter here in Montana, weather-wise. We normally still have a snow-pack of about three feet here now, but looking around there is pretty much no snow! We have been in the 50s and 60s for a couple weeks now, and the sunshine is warming everything up very quickly. We just got a couple inches, as Melissa posted, the other day but already it has pretty much melted off and grass is predominant again. I am sorry, folks out East, if you guys do a snow dance, we would love to have one last storm!

Soon we'll start to see Glacier Lillies - and their favorite predator, grizzly bears :)

Soon we’ll start to see Glacier Lillies – and their favorite predator, grizzly bears :)

But all this warm weather is definitely making us look forward to the summer and our 2015 season. We are finishing hiring our crew, getting some new horses, and soon Kurt and Austin will be busy starting their yearly projects to get ready for everyone to get here! And we absolutely cannot wait!! All this sunshine is making us dream about trail rides, cook outs, and fires outside the lodge (with s’mores supplies, of course).
The babies (Blake and Miranda) are hardly babies anymore – they are getting so big, and starting to learn how to be grown-up horses. (It is harder than it looks, ok?) The Taylor Fork and Gallatin Rivers are flowing strong again, and you can definitely spot some fly-fisherman eager and out early this year to get their first catches of the season! It is fast approaching our favorite time of year, and we hope you are as excited as we all are for summer 🙂

Soon we'll be back into wildflowers and all-day rides!

Soon we’ll be back into wildflowers and all-day rides!

We are extremely fortunate this year that we are getting booked up so fast! Maybe some of you noticed on our website, but we are completely booked for July, almost booked for August, and June and September are filling up fast! So thank you so much everyone for staying with us this summer, and if you haven’t gotten your spot – please call us 🙂 We would love to get booked all the way up before the season starts! And if you really want to come see us, but we don’t have the dates you have your heart set on available, call us anyway, and we will put you on our Wait List for the season and let you know if we have any cancellations that may work for you. All of your Covered Wagon Ranch crew is really looking forward to meeting our new guests, and seeing all of you returnees again. Thanks so much for your support, and I know this is going to be a really memorable season.
10371590_10202598490545188_7991716771510798240_n
Happy Spring, everyone!

Why Choose CWR: A Personal Experience

February 28th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

Why Choose Covered Wagon: Family

February 21st, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

When beginning the search for a guest ranch, most places you will encounter have a tagline about family. Here at Covered Wagon, it is not just a phrase. We are a small, family operated ranch centered around creating a personal, one of a kind experience for all of our guests. And yes, when you are here, you are family.
282301_104190389738231_1012684754_n
First and foremost, we have our wonderful crew. For the 2015 season, our return guests will be seeing some familiar faces as well as meeting new people. But whatever the case, our crew is a huge part of what makes Covered Wagon so special. Our ranch can hold 24 guests a week maximum, and we normally have a crew of around 14 to handle everything from the horses to your cabins to reservations and meals. Our crew is always friendly and very hard-working, and we all love what we do and where we live. You can always find us hanging out around the ranch, willing to take time out of our schedules to talk with everyone – because that is why we love what we do! Our ranch is not at all a guest ranch that discourages crew from mingling with guests – we will do everything with you guys, and hopefully find some wonderful new friends every year. We love meeting people from all over the country and world, getting different perspectives, and sharing our lives and our backyard with all of our guests. Whether it is at the Friday night cookout, or just after dinner hanging around the campfire, our Covered Wagon crew will treat everyone like family because we are one too.
Our size and personalized operation also allows the Covered Wagon guests to form their own vacation families. We are fortunate to have people return here year after year – some of our guests have been coming to the ranch for more than 30 years now! People come back with their children, grandchildren, friends, nieces, nephews, and everyone in between to keep our guest family growing. We have hosted reunions, big groups of friends who love the West, and sometimes just a father and son who love fishing the Gallatin, but when everyone gets here their family and friends always seem to grow. We constantly have people getting together who only met earlier that week, trying to book for next year with the same group of people because they enjoyed their time together so much! Whether you are here by yourself or with a large group, by the end of your stay I guarantee you will leave with some new friends, be it crew, other guests, or both. Everyone eats, rides, plays, and hangs out by the campfire together, and each week it is wonderful to see different people meeting and making a real bond, or old friends running into one another again.

View of the ranch from our Sunshine ride.

View of the ranch from our Sunshine ride.

We also are just such a small operation that we allow everyone to pick and choose what they enjoy, and do it with whomever they want. If you want to go on rides with just your family, we will try our best to make that happen. If you have new friends you want to explore with, we love that too! Hiking buddies, people to go explore Big Sky with, friends to raft with, or just acquaintances to hold your hand before zip-lining make a huge difference. People who talk to us about booking always want to know every detail about our ranch that makes it special, but at the end of the day, Kurt, Melissa, and myself always come back to the same thing: there is just something about this place. Covered Wagon has a magic all its own that just seems to keep people coming back here. Personally, I think the scenery, horses, and laid-back western feeling all play a part, but it is the fact that this ranch is always a family that really makes it work. At the end of the day, everyone will always feel welcome here, and whenever you come back, it will always feel like coming home.

Why Choose Covered Wagon: Our Riding Program

February 15th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

Melissa posted earlier this month with her reasons to try coming to Covered Wagon, which got me thinking about all the reasons that I love to tell people, and some reason that I never really have enough time to get across while on the phone or with e-mail. So, as I have a lovely captive audience here, I figured we could make February “Why Choose Covered Wagon” month here on the blog. Feel free to comment or post on Facebook your reasons why you chose CWR, or any questions if you are still making your guest ranch decision!

320474_4818848669041_1323127761_n

First and foremost, my main reason would be our riding program. Quite simply, no one rides like we do. I know, I know, I am clearly horribly biased (it’s true). But my statement stands: I have never seen a place with so many personalized options as well as just the vast amount of territory to ride in that Covered Wagon covers.

527458_4818855909222_1023990922_n

We have half and full day rides for people of all abilities and sensibilities. Want to see mountains up close? Fine. Scared to death of heights? Ok, no problem. Here at CWR, we ride territory spanning from Big Sky into Yellowstone National Park, with over 100 trails to choose from. We have rides that will take you to 10,000 feet and rides that will let you relax at beautiful lakes. Rides to see amazing mountain views, and rides with beautiful meadows to go searching for wildlife. You will cross rivers, conquer cliffs, enter wilderness, traverse meadows of flowers, and see the amazing amount of beauty Montana has to offer. We are honored to have guests who have been coming here for more than 30 years and still finding new parts of the Gallatin National Forest to explore.

Benson Point - a beautiful hike too!

Benson Point – a beautiful hike too!

We have rides to cater to any duration you wish to spend in the saddle. Covered Wagon also has over 70 horses and mules, so your perfect riding partner is here, we promise! And we will give you a horse to ride for the entirety of your stay, allowing you to bond and really get to connect with these animals that we consider family. You will also have your own saddle for your time here, allowing you to get comfortable. Our wranglers are amazing as well, more than happy to teach everyone whatever you want to know! From how to unsaddle your horse and turn them out to how to become a better rider, we truly offer the full Western horsemanship experience.

DSC02337

I know that many of you have probably heard this speech (or parts of it) before, but our riding program is truly one of the best I have ever dealt with or heard of in the guest ranch industry. I know I feel truly blessed to have access to all of the terrain, wonderful horses, and knowledgeable wranglers while I am here. And hopefully, you will too! So as I said, feel free to comment with your experiences, pictures, or questions, and we would love to hear about your favorite rides at Covered Wagon!

DSC02328

Thinking of Visiting a Guest Ranch? 3 Reasons to Give Covered Wagon a Try!

February 2nd, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

  1. Personalized-Everything from the moment you call the ranch to the moment you pull out our gate is personal. You won’t have online booking software; instead you will talk to the owners and be able to ask questions. You won’t have to figure it all out-we can help direct you in any venture you want to pursue once you are here. So part of your family is riders and part of them are hikers-we can handle that. So you’ve never seen a horse before, but you want to ride-Okay done! Your sister is a vegan and your kids are picky eaters-No problem! You are on a family vacation so you want to ride with your kids and eat with your kids-done. This is your vacation you tell us what YOU want to do.
  2. Unique Setting-The ranch sits in the Gallatin Canyon south of Big Sky, Montana. The Taylor Fork runs through the ranch and the Gallatin River runs North to South across from the ranch…known for some of the best fly fishing in the country. We have mountains, high mountain meadows, creeks, ponds, and mountain lakes. We have deer, elk, bison, moose, coyotes, wolves, grizzlies, and black bears. We have Big Sky ten minutes away where you can golf, whitewater raft, zip-line, and mountain bike. Yellowstone Park is 3 miles away, there are hiking trails out of the ranch, and in my opinion some of the prettiest country in the world at our finger tips.
  3. Sense of Community– Once you get here you are family! We are extremely small which allows us to get to know everyone. We have guests that return year after year because of the personalized feeling you get when you are here. Everyone interacts and relationships are formed. If you are an individual, a couple, or a large family our ranch has a place for everyone!

Give us a call we would love to talk to you!

Kurt Melissa & Braxton

KMB

Winter in Montana

January 23rd, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

Hey there!

We are enjoying a beautiful (if not necessarily normal) winter here in Montana. It is my first winter in the state, and I absolutely love it so far. Our backyard of the Gallatin National Forest and Big Sky is the best place for fun in the snow. We have skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and every other activity you could dream up here and I am thoroughly enjoying my education in snow-sports.

 

A mini snowstorm view from my porch!

A mini snowstorm view from my porch!

Of course, the ranch is also incredibly beautiful in our off-season too. I took a bunch of pictures here and there to give you guys a better look! We have been having some unusual weather here (for us). Thus far it has gotten to -36 degrees, and keeps yo-yo-ing between bitter cold and forties! But we are still getting snow and regardless, this place is still breathtaking.

So now for the update: the babies, Blake and Miranda, are getting absolutely huge! Blake is taller than me now and they are having tons of fun romping around in the corral with Nikita and Pancake. They are both very smart and funny, and Miranda in particular is a precocious little filly who loves to get into anything she is not supposed to find!

Sunset and the Spanish Peaks in the distance.

Sunset and the Spanish Peaks in the distance.

We are in the process of hiring our crew for the next season, and I can’t wait for you all to meet new and familiar faces again! We are booking up for next season, so if you have not called for your reservation yet, please do 🙂 We would love to have all of you guys, so call or visit us in the snow! We love winter, but all of us here are already starting to look forward to our 2015 season.

A crescent moon rising over the Rec. Hall

A crescent moon rising over the Rec. Hall

So, hope wherever all of you are, you are staying warm and enjoying your January!

A snowy Sunshine Ridge :)

A snowy Sunshine Ridge :)

Eryn

Rita and her long road to recovery

December 30th, 2014 by coveredwagonranch

Well winter is here at the ranch and so it our mare Rita. Many of you were here when Rita got hurt this summer or have asked about her progress so I thought I would share a little of her story as well as the progress since her injury in August.

Rita originally came from one of the ranch’s previous employees Jeremiah. He had picked her from the Big Hole country by Dillon, Montana. Kurt loved this little mare and to this day says she is the best cow horse we own and I quote “She will lay her ole ears back and bite a black cow.” RitaKurt cowboyed off of Rita when he was working at Sitz for a couple of years, until we came back up to the Covered Wagon and I rode her in our wedding.Rita3 The next year when we decided we want to breed a couple of horses we knew right away she was one of them we wanted to get a baby out of. Kate and her spent the end of the winter with us so we could keep an eye on her. This spring she had Miranda, and became a wonderful mother. Rita4Rita 2When it was time to breed her again, we decided to wait due to the fact we wanted to work cows on her and ride her this year. Needless to say if we would have known then what we know now we would have bred her again. Rita is a phenomenal horse all around, from cows, to trail rides, to our wedding, and motherhood she has done it all! And let us know forget how beautiful she is.Rita5

After visiting our new niece, in late August, we returned to the ranch to find Rita pretty lame. Over the course of the next couple of days we kept an eye on her and tried to help with the pain. We decided it was time to have the vet check her out when she wasn’t getting any better. Doctor Tami Parrott at Hardaway vet was the one that took on Rita and the following are her words:

 

Rita was trailered to Hardaway Veterinary Hospital because she had injured her left hind leg while turned out with her foal, Miranda. When she arrived at the clinic, it was obvious to me right away that Rita was a very special mare with a lot of heart. Even though she was barely able to put weight on her left hind leg and was in a new place with her foal, Rita was a calm and very well-behaved horse to work around.  

            In examining Rita I noticed that she had swelling around her fetlock joint (see picture) Rita injuryand in the tendon sheath of her left/right hind leg.  A tendon sheath is a structure that wraps around the tendons in the back of the fetlock joint so that the tendons can glide freely past each other as the horse moves. After some investigating, I determined that Rita had injured her deep digital flexor tendon and the branches of her suspensory ligament. These tendons and ligaments are very important in supporting a horse when they bear weight on their leg.  

In order to treat the injury, we needed to give Rita external hind limb support so that her tendon and ligament could begin to heal.  A fetlock support brace was built by one of the staff members at Covered Wagon Ranch (Austin) to act as a support sling for Rita’s fetlock. Scan0001 A wedge was placed under her heel to decease the tension on her tendon. In addition, Rita received cold laser therapy (a treatment that stimulates healing using a specific wavelength of energy) to help her tendon/ligament heal and decrease the chance that she will re-injure herself in the future. All of this was done in an effort to make Rita more comfortable and to promote tendon/ligament healing.

Over the course of the next week or two, Rita began walking comfortably on her left hind leg.  She was making great progress! As a result, we were able to start her on a 9 month long road of rehabilitation which began with hand-walking once a day for five minutes.

     Rita is back home at the ranch and Kurt and Melissa have been caring for her daily with hand-walking and bandage changes. At this point, she is walking comfortably once a day for 20 minutes.  She looks great and we are hopeful for a full recovery!

It has been four months since her injury; she is no longer wearing her support brace and walking great. She is in a run under the barn and each day she gets 20 minutes of hand walking for exercise. We still have a long road ahead of us with and uncertainty if she will ever be fully sound. However, as we tell everyone these horses are our kids and it is our responsibility to take care of them through better or worse. This is just one of our 71 horses story. We just think she is extra special.

A big thank you to Dr. Parrot, Dr. Hardaway and everyone else that took care of Rita while at the vet for the nearly three months she was there. Also a big thank you to Austin (our adopted son/employee) and Tom Fisher (Kurt’s MT dad) for making the intense brace that Rita wore (see picture) and Eryn and Keaton for helping doctor this mare at the ranch.

Melissa

 

Happy Holidays Everyone!

December 5th, 2014 by coveredwagonranch

Well, it is officially winter in Montana and thus far, it has been absolutely beautiful. We have been hard at work here, finishing projects and getting all of our horses to winter pasture – just generally getting the ranch ready for the winter season. Most of our wonderful 2014 crew has left us, and we are slowly winding down into the off-season.

IMG_0474

For my first winter in Montana, I definitely wanted to experience all the country has to offer – and just living here has been such a new experience. It is sunny, if cold, and we constantly have a really pretty blanket of snow on the ground. Everyone around here skis and snowboards, or snowmobiles, and I am very much looking forward to learning how to be a real winter person (ironic since I am from NY state). So far, we have avoided the famed freezing temperatures of -40 or so, but I am sure they will grace us with their presence very soon. I will keep you all updated on the ranch and our misadventures in our winter wonderland as the off-season continues.

IMG_0478

As it gets closer to the holidays, I just wanted to take a second and sincerely thank all of our guests – even those we won’t meet until next summer, for allowing us here to do what we love every day. You guys brighten our days with your posts and emails and watching everyone experience the country that I have come to love and call home is something I would never give up for anything else in the world. All of our guests have such a unique perspective, and I personally have learned so much from everyone who comes here. Without each and every one of you, we wouldn’t be able to live this amazing life, riding horses and hanging out in some of the most gorgeous land in the world. All of us here at the Covered Wagon really appreciate all of you – and hope you guys are having a wonderful and fun – filled holiday season!

-Eryn

Also, Blake says hi. He really likes cameras.

Also, Blake says hi. He really likes cameras.

September in Montana

September 18th, 2014 by coveredwagonranch

Hey There!

We are entering into fall season here at the Covered Wagon. I know we get a lot of people asking when the time to come to see some fall colors is over here. And while we may not rival the east coast with their amazing trees, we definitely have some beautiful moments in the fall. Our fall colors start in late August and run through the end of September. I took a drive up the Taylor Fork to give you guys some ideas of what fall in Montana looks like 🙂

IMG_0216 IMG_0223 IMG_0231 IMG_0242 IMG_0251

Now for the ranch update: we are still going here with our last week of guests this year. The weather has been mostly beautiful for us (though we did get a bit of snow last week!) We have had an amazing summer full of old and new friends. It is hard to believe that the season is almost over already – it seems like it has just flown by. We have loved seeing each and every one of you, and thank you so much for coming to visit! We hope you will be back soon.

Eryn

 

The Wrangle

July 21st, 2014 by coveredwagonranch

The wrangle here at Covered Wagon has long been one of our guests’ favorites. Whether you have been coming here for 10 years or this is your first, I guarantee the wrangle is a sight you will never get tired of seeing – I know I never do.

Our horses going across the Taylor Fork River!

Our horses going across the Taylor Fork River!

What is the wrangle (all of you newbies yet to come ask)? The wrangle is when we move our entire herd of horses (72 head at last count) through the gorge and up Cameron Draw to our pasture on top of the mountain. We sit on 5,000 acres here, and we love to let our horses out to graze at night – so much so that we’ve started wrangling almost every day now!

223668_4818830908597_1592998804_n

Then, very (very) early in the morning, your wranglers will go back up the mountain on horseback and jingle them back in for your rides that day. The wrangle is generally later in the afternoon after everyone is back from their rides, and we are always more than happy to give you a ride down Taylor Ford road to a prime viewing spot for photographs and videos.

10347079_10201277398852025_6330054768836966125_n[1]

Everything here at the ranch is in full swing – we finally got some rain today, but the weather has been wonderfully gorgeous and the horses and crew are happy and waiting for all of you that have yet to arrive! Hope you all are having a good summer!

 

-Eryn

Fourth of July at CWR

July 8th, 2014 by coveredwagonranch

Hello Everyone!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend. Here at the Covered Wagon, the fourth is a special celebration day. We pack up all of our guests and crew and caravan to Ennis, MT for the parade and rodeo.

The parade is in the morning, and it is the perfect small town parade: all local businesses and everyone participates in making a car or wagon or float to show off. We park right in front of the Silver Dollar Saloon and try to duck the candy/water guns as they roll by.

All of us girls watching the Parade!

All of us girls watching the Parade!

Then it is a few free hours for shopping! There are many boutiques and stores in Ennis to draw crowds on the fourth. Us girls here at the ranch are rather partial to Benjie’s – a little jewelry etc. store that has everything sterling silver at 50-60% off!

As the afternoon goes on, it is rodeo time! Ennis has a great rodeo for the fourth, and families and couples alike will be very entertained. Finally, it is back to the Covered Wagon in the evening for our traditional cookout on the fourth: steaks, burgers, hot dogs, and brats at the rec hall with some live music and some time to practice those rodeo moves.

Braxton and Kurt hanging out at the rodeo :)

Braxton and Kurt hanging out at the rodeo :)

That was our Independence Day – and it was a wonderful one 🙂

It is finally summer here, and we have been having absolutely gorgeous weather. Warm in the day, perfect for riding (especially at higher elevations where you cool off as you ride up), and still great weather at night to cozy up to a fire and hang out with all of us guests and crew. Hoping everyone is having as fantastic of a summer as we are! Can’t wait to see and meet all of you, and hope you all get here or come back soon!

 

Eryn

A Day in the Life

June 11th, 2014 by coveredwagonranch

So, many of you reading this have been to our ranch and consider it your home. If this is you, feel free to skip to the bottom and read our update on ranch activities :). But for those of you considering staying with us, or anxiously awaiting your first stay here this summer, I figured I would post what an average day on ranch looks like. It is one of the most frequently asked questions when people are thinking about booking with us: how exactly does a day in the life of Covered Wagon Ranch work?

Well, first is breakfast – the most important meal of the day! Our chefs will tempt you with everything from eggs to order to a daily pastry. And after you’ve had your coffee and start to look more awake, Kurt or Melissa will sit down and visit with you about what you would like to do that day. You have several options with riding: either a shorter morning ride, or an afternoon ride, or a full day ride where you would take a delicious sandwich with you for lunch on the trail. We have a horse program that we would put up against literally any guest ranches. There are over 100 trails to choose from, so feel free to tell us if you like/dislike scenic rides, mountain views, pretty meadows, serene lakes, or anything else! (Really though, if you have a preference, we definitely have a ride for you). We also keep track of what horse you rode and where you went so coming here year after year you never have to see the same territory – or we can take you back on your favorites.

If riding is not your cup of tea, or you simply are still a little bow-legged from the previous day, we can set you up with one or more of our friends in the canyon to do another kind of adventure: whitewater rafting, fly fishing, or zip lining. Or if you would like to take advantage of our proximity to Yellowstone National Park, we can make you a lunch and point you in the direction of any sites you have heard about! We also have several hikes to go on, from the ranch or feel free to hike a trail that we ride (though we warn you, some of them are quite long).

Rides go out around nine a.m. after you have gotten an orientation from one of our wonderful wranglers. And your day is completely up to you! Whether it is sitting on your cabin’s front porch with a good book or going on an all day ride into the Rocky Mountains, we try to make each of your stays as personal and perfect as possible – so just let us know what you are feeling like doing that day.

In the evening, appetizers (and unofficial drinks) start at 6:30 with dinner following at 7p.m. Then, if you can heave yourself up from the table (because some physical effort will be required – our chefs are a little too good at their jobs) we have a fire every night outside the lodge. Everyone feels free to hang out and chat about their days. On Friday nights, we also do a cook-out: a barbeque with live music, roping lessons, and maybe some hilarity watching the crew try to dance.

Every day at Covered Wagon is different, and you can make your vacation as active and full or as relaxing and moderate as you would like.

So now for the update! The ranch is up and running, and this is the first week all of our cabins are full. It is so nice to be back in the routine of things. Your horses are moving up those mountains and getting back into shape (as am I) and we are all so excited to be rolling for the summer of 2014. The weather has been unseasonably warm, but not quite warm enough to take a dip in the Taylor Fork yet! The colt and filly are growing and love all the new attention – as does baby Braxton! We hope you are all doing good and can’t wait to see you here soon 🙂

 

-Eryn

Opening Day!

June 1st, 2014 by coveredwagonranch

Well it is finally here – opening day! It is a beautiful sunny day in Montana and we are anxiously awaiting our first guests of the season. The lodge is stocked full of cookies and the fireplace is crackling, the cabins are beautifully clean, and all of our horses are here from winter pasture and looking ready for a ride.

Your 2014 crew have all been working hard to get the ranch in perfect shape for the summer. This year we are so lucky to have staff from all over the United States. Our chefs Nate and Rob are from Michigan and Ohio respectively, along with our server Kaylie and dishwasher Ryan who are also from Michigan. Our returning housekeeper Sharon, and her sister Minda are both from the great state of Washington. As for our wranglers, most of you returners will recognize Austin from Ohio, Keaton from Wisconsin, and Kaya from Montana. Our two new girls are also wonderful: Sabrina from Mississippi and Taylor from Montana. Our ranch hand, Tristian, is also a native of the state. And as you know, I am originally from New York and holding the spot of resident Yankee. We have an absolutely fabulous crew this year, so hurry up and get here so you can all meet them!

Working at the Covered Wagon definitely has its perks. One of the big ones is that Kurt and Melissa take us all on a whitewater rafting trip with the Geyser Whitewater company here in Big Sky, so that we can actually tell you guys what rafting down the Gallatin River is like. It was my first time rafting, and I completely loved the experience. The river is really high and fast right now, and the views are gorgeous! Part of the Geyser experience includes a photographer documenting your trip, so we can share with you guys our experience (and funny faces)!

WMT_0136

Not bad for not knowing what we’re doing!

 

Kurt and Melissa and crew!

Kurt and Melissa and crew!

So we’re up and running and can’t wait to see all of you! Here’s to a fantastic 2014 season!

-Eryn

 

»