How would you like to be sitting around the campfire one evening and taking in this view with your dinner? Well, Brinie, Rob, JT, Kenny and Erin had the pleasure of a most incredible pack trip this summer. Brinie and Rob were celebrating their honeymoon (hope you guys don’t mind the P.R.!!) and had a most enchanting trip.
The trip started out at Red Canyon where the wildflowers were just spectacular. It was a long, but beautiful day. Camp was set up and the views were amazing.
Now this next picture isn’t quite in focus, but I think that’s because JT’s hands were shaking he was so excited! And he knew if he didn’t have a picture of this we would have never believed them! For some reason, about 200 head of elk decided to walk into the camping area and start to graze! They didn’t seem to be too bothered with the horses, the camp and the people. Now I wish I had been there!
They camped therefor two nights, and then headed out on Day 3 over Snowslide and Monument Mountain, a 10,000 ft mountain top where the views are spectacular. However, you need to know that there is one spot on this ride that is not for the faint of heart!
But the trip is worth it (or so they say. I, personally, have a fear of heights and haven’t had the gumption to get over Monument Mountain. And the computer wouldn’t even download the scariest part!! Now what does that tell you?
Thanks to Erin, super wrangler, our horse “Commanche” has found a new job at the ranch. Erin came strolling up to the Friday night BBQ a few weeks ago with Unicorn in hand. It was a big hit at the ranch.
Although Robby, Matt, Dan and Tracey have been to the ranch several times, they must admit they never saw a Unicorn here before. It was a magical night.
PS I’m politely ignoring the fact that I’ve been extremely delinquent in writing We’re so busy this summer and having so much fun I hardly have time to write! I have so much to share: the Grizzlies that Steve and Sheila saw for the very first time, the Rodeo on Fourth of July, the amazing rides we’re getting in this summer, new trails: such as “Boones Wander”, and the list goes on. I promise to sit down on this computer and make time!
Look who decided to crash our dinner at the ranch! Right after dinner was finished, our guests went outside to enjoy the evening, only to find this yearling moose prancing right down the front of the lodge! We couldn’t have planned it any better.
Everybody just sat on the porch and enjoyed the show! Several days later, as we got ready for our cookout, a mama moose and her brand new baby were munching on leaves across the way! Wildlife activity has been great. Lots of elk, elk calves, some black bears and even some grizzlies with cubs!
The season has gotten off to a great start! Our Head Chef Tim and our Breakfast Cook Cami Jo have been expanding the waist size on our guests! Josh, a 10 year old grandson of Andy and Elizabeth from Georgia, has really been enjoying the food. When he got home he asked his mom why she didn’t serve him his biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, eggs, etc . His mom served him a pop tart and said “welcome home son”!!
We’ll keep you posted on ranch activities as the season goes on. So far, off to a great start!
Welcome to our Country!! Meet Anya and Zoriana, both joining us this summer as house staff. Their home country is the Ukraine and we’re very excited to have them become part of our Covered Wagon Family this year. It was a long journey to get here, traveling at least a good 24 hours. Only to find that they had a seven hour layover in Minneapolis! They finally arrived after midnight on Friday evening.
After a night’s stay at the Wingate in Bozeman (thanks Brandon!) I picked them up and drove them to the ranch in a snowstorm!! They were quite impressed. I promised them there were actually mountains all around us, even thought we couldn’t see them. They said the temperature was somewhere around 90 degrees in their country!
Anya (on the left), 22, has a degree in Art and is going to school for architecture. I’m sure J.T. will fill her in with all the joys of being an architect! And Zoriana (on the right), 19, is studying Economics. And I’ll be more than happy to share the joys of owning a business. They are part of an International Work Study Program and their English is quite good. Much better than my Ukranian, I must admit. I had to Google it to find out where it was. Geography is not one of my stronger suits!
During the ride to the ranch, I got to learn quite a bit about these two. They are lovely. This is the first time Anya has been to the States, and her dream is to draw horses and eventually get to Chicago and listen to some great jazz. Zoriana (which means “Star” in her language) actually worked in North Carolina last year in an ice cream shoppe. She calls herself the “ice queen”!! However, I asked her why she didn’t return there this year and she informed me that her boss died of a heart attack while she was there. I immediately told her I would not be her boss this year and turfed that responsibility on to somebody else at the ranch-and it wasn’t J.T.!!
During their tour of the ranch we stopped at the corrals and they got to pet the horses for the first time in their life. They were thrilled and a little intimidated. Rumor has it that Boone and Lee are taking them for their first horseback ride and lesson today! Zoriana also told me that she’s afraid of dogs. Now really, how could you be afraid of Doc??? We’re going to have to de-sensitive her while she is here.
We made our way back to the lodge and got them settled in to their crew quarters. It didn’t take long for them to get settled in to the American Cowgirl way of life. They are ready to start work! You will definitely enjoy meeting them this summer and we all look forward to learning more about where they live! Please welcome our two “Wild And Crazy Cowgirls”!!
“Roxie” came to us as a surprise one very cold January morning, with temperatures hovering around 40 below zero. Yes-you heard me right! Her Mom was “Honey”-a draft cross horse. We purchased Honey the summer before. We thought she looked kind of fat but Honey was a big horse to begin with. Needless to say, after the season was through, the horses were put back up on winter pasture at Raspberry Butte Ranch in Big Timber. Kurt had been traveling up to Raspberry Butte on a routine basis to check on the horses, when one day in January he called to tell us there was a foal in our pasture. Well, those of us who know Kurt know he’s a prankster at heart, so I didn’t take much credence to his call. Besides, we did not breed any horses that year, and horses are usually bred to foal out from May on, due to the cold weather. Finally, I realized this was no joke, and he trailered the mare and foal back to our house in Bozeman.
She was a wreck.
She was covered in bite marks all over her body. When you ran your hand across her body it was covered with scabs everywhere. Her ear was bit off and suffered from frostbite. And all four hooves were separated from the coronet bands. The vet thought maybe it was from frostbite or infection.
The horses and mules didn’t take very well to having a foal around. As wonderful as these animals are, they get very competitive when there’s a new kid in town. The cool thing about this experience is that the mules actually circled Honey and Roxie and protected them from the rest of the herd. Too bad they didn’t start that a little earlier.
Roxie had a long course of treatments and TLC back at Love Lane, and we’re proud to say that she is now 3 years old and doing great. She’s had some minimal training and riding and passed her lessons with flying colors. She has an incredible disposition and is one of the friendliest, most respectful horses I know. If you walk down the driveway, she’ll run up to the fence and walk alongside you like a puppy dog!!
Roxie will be joining the string this summer and work her way into the herd as a Montana dude horse for the ranch. I know she’ll be one of our best in a short period of time!
For those of you who know me and my horses, I can’t stand to see a horse laying flat out in the pasture. Many a time I’ve been known to run out there with my cell phone in hand and ready to press the button to call my vet, only to find that the horse stands up seconds before I get there! Well, thanks to Horse & Rider Magazine, I now have second thoughts before I run out there to disturb them! Here’s an article I read from the March 2010 Issue:
HORSES ‘N ZZZZZZ’s
“While we need about eight hours of sleep a night to be at our best, our equine counterparts sleep just three to four hours a day in short bits at a time. Plus, they spend most of that sleep time standing up. How do they do this? With an internal “stay apparatus” of tendons and ligaments that allows them to lock their front legs while relaxing one hind leg and rotating their hips, so they can snooze without keeling over.
But to get that quality REM sleep, horses must lie down-either stretched out flat on the ground or partially upright with their legs tucked underneath them. And, believe it or not, many researchers report that horses do, in fact, dream. In REM sleep, their eyes move rapidly back and forth, and sometimes they grunt, twitch their ears, and even move their feet. Makes you wonder what dreams those may be, doesn’t it?”
So, next time I see them laying flat out on the ground, I’ll think twice before I rush to wake them out of a deep sleep. RIGHT……….
On our way up to feed the horses today, we run into a herd of deer!
Well, typical Montana Easter and Spring Time in the Rockies. JT and I headed up to Raspberry Butte today to feed the horses. First we spot a Golden Eagle on a telephone pole, then we see two Sandhill Cranes along the drive, and as we turn the corner to head up to the ranch we spot this herd of deer.
First step is to drive the flatbed up to where the horses are hanging out.
We head up the hill and can see that these guys (and gals) are just about out of hay. We feed them about once every three days now, as the pasture has been grazed down. Next step is to get the bale off the truck.
Not such an easy task. The horses are hungry and need to stay clear while JT puts the chain around the 1500 lb bale of grass/alfalfa mix and I drive the truck forward!
Rolling the Bale out to form the feed line
Now we’re talking!! First bale rolled out. Second one will be easier now that everybody is being fed!
Now that the feed line is out there, everybody is jockeying for position:
Now McCrae is saying “am I missing something????”
McCrae hasn't quite figured out what's going on-but he soon learns!!
Now everybody is happy!!
Everybody is a happy camper.
And of course, now that the feeding is done, the storm starts to lift. Soon it will be blue sky again! Happy Easter to everyone,
The Covered Wagon Ranch is proud to announce that we had two horses tie for Horse of the Year in 2009, Joseph and Deuce. These two stars of the Montana Dude Ranch industry both provided excellent and flawless service on 47 days of the possible 95 work days of their season. Please come and visit the Covered Wagon Ranch this summer, and when you do, tip your hat to these great Montana dude horses.
Joseph is the patriarch of the Covered Wagon Ranch. A true gentleman of 25 years, he has lived on the ranch (according to our records) for over 20 years. His specialty is the younger, less experienced rider; but this year (because of his good size and wonderful temperament) he helped several adult riders enjoy their stay as well.
Deuce has been a favorite on the ranch since JT and Debi purchased him 3 years ago as a ranch trained gelding. Currently 13 years young, he gave many of our intermediate (and higher) level riders a great experience through the course of the summer. His gentle and steady personality leads us to take him for granted sometimes, but this is the second year in a row in which he has been the star of our herd at the end of the season.
Please give a round of applause for these very hard working employees and trusted steed!
There is nothing quite as spectacular as the wildflowers in Montana, especially when you get the chance to ride a Montana Dude Horse and get up into the back country of our beautiful state. The view you see here was taken by J.T. while taking a ride to Upper Tepee Basin-one of our campsites that we either ride to or take horse pack trips for our guests. Montana has a rich flora which belongs to several different ecosystems. The wildflowers make up one of the largest groups of the species. The wide variety of wildflowers found here is because the state covers areas belonging to the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest humid areas and Intermountain areas in between. Western Montana, where our ranch is located, is mountainous and has many lakes, streams and meadows.
There are so many varieties of wildflowers that we see on our rides and our hikes. Some of the plants you will see include Glacier Lillies, Dwarf Larkspur, Pretty Shootingstar, Moss Phlox, Fairyslippers, Arrow-leaved balsamroot, Indian Paintbrush and Sticky Purple Geranium to name a few. The list goes on forever.
Or just enjoy the flowers as you walk around the barns and the rest of the ranch.
But whatever you do, or wherever you are, at our ranch, riding our horses or hiking and fishing in our spectacular country, make sure you always take time to smell the flowers! (Many thanks to Ted L. for the photos)
I thought I would take a little time and go over some fun facts about our horses at the ranch, as well as horses in general. We all love horseback riding in Montana, and even if we don’t ride at our Montana Dude Ranch we still love the animal. I just love watching their behaviour, don’t you? So I thought I would take a few minutes and just share some insights to bring a smile to your face!
First, we all wonder if horses, and animals, can really talk. Well here’s a little clip I watched the other from Saint and Alfie “chumming it” in the pasture:
Every time I watch this, all I can think is that they’re goofing around and then decide to tell each other it’s time to go run around the pasture for a while, and then they take off!
I also love to just watch the animal run. One of my favorite times is when the wranglers run the horses down the mountain Monday mornings and move them into the corrals-ready for work!
Berkeley, Brayden and Chase Enjoying the Sunshine at the Ranch
Thanks to Mary and Berkeley we’re posting some photos of their stay at the ranch this summer. We get lots of questions from potential guests concerning what their children can do at the ranch if they come to stay. It’s hard to put into words the value of the experiences these kids will receive, and it’s more than just a structured program. Instead, we notice it’s an opportunity for families to vacation on a dude ranch and get to spend quality time together, whether it’s riding a Montana dude Horse, floating inner tubes on the Taylor’s Fork that runs through the ranch, or just having fun with the family. We boast that our ranch is “Screen Free”. No TV, no cell phones, no TV but just a good old family vacation in Montana on a Dude Ranch.
For some, it’s just having the opportunity to wear a cowboy (or cowgirl) hat!
Berkeley's Proud To Be A Cowgirl
For others it’s getting a chance to learn how to rope a calf while we’re enjoying the campfire at our Friday Night BBQ’s.
This Cowgirl Has Learned To Master the Rope During Her Stay At The Ranch
But the biggest smiles usually come when riding their horse. Berkeley loved her
A Picture Says A Thousand Words-And So Does A Smile
horse “Tugboat” and he looked after her safety during her stay.
So all in all, it’s the time together WITH the family and not AWAY from the family that makes the difference and the stuff dreams are made of and a lifetime of memories here at the Ranch..
Thanks to Chantel and Jochen, from Belgium, we have the pleasure of capturing the wildlife in the Gallatin National Forest and Lee Metcalf Wilderness, where the Covered Wagon Ranch does most of it’s riding. Nothing to be afraid of, our horses and wranglers are trained and well aware of the wildlife out here, making it safe for you enjoy all this country has to offer.
We had the pleasure of enjoying Chantel’s and Jochen’s visit in 2008 and hope to have the pleasure again some day! Thanks for the photo’s guys!
In our dude ranch business, our horses are literally worth their weight in gold. They get ridden by all types of riders, including inexperienced riders wo are pulling, poking, flopping, and generally trying every way possible to get themselves hurt, mostly because they have never been to a Montana Dude Ranch before or taken a horseback ride. Yet, these honest amazing horses take excellent care of them. Eventually it becomes time to say goodbye to these great horses. This is a poem I read in the Big Timber Pioneer and applied it to Honey, whom we lost this year. But it just doesn’t apply to Honey. We all know and love Joe, Louis, Joker, Whiskey Jack to name a few and are doing just fine, and of course, Zach, whom we lost a year ago. These horses are those that guests could faint on. Literally bombproof. We call them “dude horses“, something cowboys often discredit like day-old chew, but “dude horses” are the unsung heroes of the equine world. They work hard day in and day out for a living, and they epitomize the heart and soul of goodness. This poem is a tribute to our horses out there carrying precious cargo up and down the trail every day.
“ODE TO MAX”
“It was the best two hundred dollars I ever spent, Brett said-
On the day we found out that at the trail head Max lay dead.
This two hundred dollar horse had definitely earned his keep
We all prayed to God that he passed on while in blissful sleep.
No purebred Quarter Horse, thoroughbred, nor paint was he
He was of mixed blood with no fancy papers nor pedigree.
He had never dragged a calf to a branding fire nor ran on a track.
But many a precious load he had hauled into the wild and back.
He was honest and kind and never even shied that I ever saw.
The greenest rider or the smallest child would be Max’s draw.
He hauled guests for a living up and down the wilderness trail.
He never moved a muscle when a client fainted over his tail.
He endured being bridled and cinched by well-intentioned rookies
Who offered him a reward of carrots, apples, and Oreo cookies.
Hauling overweight off balanced clients could drive a horse insane.
But even if Max could have spoken, he would never complain.
He hauled dudes and dudettes of every shape and size.
and they all fell in love with his thick mane and brown eyes.
He crossed many hills, mountains, and streams,
Helped fufill lots of hunter’s elk shooting dreams.
It’s hard to find a horse as honest as Max.
All the rider did was sit up there and relax.
So here’s to Max and the great dude horses who have gone before…
The trusty steeds who went to pasture but live in our hearts evermore.”
It’s a valid question, I suppose. After all, we are all allotted only so much vacation time in our lives, so why choose to spend some of it on a Dude Ranch Vacation?
Irresistable horse riding vacation
Those of us who spend part or all of each year working at a Guest Ranch know that there is nothing like it in the world; a bond forms among the crew; a unique relationship exists between the horses and those who work with them; a special rapport develops between the guests and staff.
Many of our guests return to our Guest Ranch year after year because they hunger for time in the wilderness – craving impossibly fresh air and dazzling skies. They need to stand thigh-deep in river waters with a fly rod in had. And they learn something about themselves and the world around them when they mount a horse day after day; I’ve heard it said that you may be able to hide from yourself, but you can’t hide the real you from a horse. I think it’s true.
A Horse Riding Vacation that leads you into Yellowstone National Park, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, and the Gallatin and Madison Mountains leads you back in time. The pace is slower – travel takes time. It’s quieter. Your cell phone can’t find you here.
Finally, there is the land. The incredibly beautiful land.
And these women are DEFINITELY Crazy Women Riders!! We have Dawn and Linda seated in the front and Murph and Diane standing in the back row. These women were very creative and came up with the CWR nickname (I wish I had thought of that!!) and it only took me about an hour to realize that the Crazy Women Riders name was a spin off CWR. Duh. That week was so much fun and tons of riding. Jeremy and company took us out to see if we could hear the elk bugle, and on one particular day we had the thrill of a lifetime when he called in two huge bulls within 40 yards of where we were! A day that none of us will ever forget. And thanks to Janine for taking the picture of the bull via the belly of Spade as he was tied up to the tree!
How much fun is that??!! Cowgirl Week was such a huge success that we plan to have it every year during the last week of our season. This upcoming year we will have it from September 12-19, so Cowgirls, get your hats on and load up on Tim’s Fabulous Cookies! As you can see, Mary (on the right) our Honorary CWR Family Member, and Janine (on the left) the fabulous photo taker of the elk, are enjoying their snacks. ta ta folks!
So many people have asked me “what do you do with all that time off after a Montana Dude Ranch closes”?? Well, it’s pretty boring around here. JT goes off and hunts for days at a time, Jeremy and Darlene and company go back to Big Timber and look after the Montana Dude Horses, train new horses and ride, and I sit at my desk on the computer all day. Boring. Not to mention, it’s 15 degrees out there, snow on the ground and not much fun outside at the moment. So I went to the Hallmark Store to get some birthday cards for a friend-and I fell in love with these two little guys: Frick and Frack (thanks to my sister Rene’e for naming them!). Two dwarf African Frogs that live in their own little ecosystem. How cool is that?? Now they sit at my desk while I work at the computer and I get to watch them all day. Unfortunately, there is one design flaw…..they’re NOCTURNAL. Oh well. Guess I have to find something else
Lucky me! When Ken, Jackie, Kristine and Ashley came to visit us this year (all the way from Holland, I might add!!) they graciously surprised me with a pair of Dutch Shoes!! Now that the weather has turned to snow, I immediately donned the new garb to keep my feet very warm. Much appreciated guys!! To top it off, I asked Ken and Jackie to bring some pictures of Holland out to the ranch, as I would love to know what it looks like. Going overboard, they presented us with a beautiful coffee table book of Holland with tons of gorgeous pictures. Thank you so very much. I might add that Ken was the first person I chatted with on Skype. Hope to see you next year!
The day they have been waiting for…..a trip to Raspberry Butte Ranch for a much needed vacation. Our boys and girls have worked hard this summer and deserve a much needed rest. We just about have everybody up to the ranch. Just one more trip and they are all together on good grass and wide open spaces. Check out our video on You Tube or Debi’s Facebook Change. The You Tube Video is under pets and animals and called Horses on Vacation. Let me know if you can’t find it!
What a great group of women! The week is over and the ranch is in the process of closing down. But it went out with a bang! The last week of our Montana Guest Ranch season was filled with Crazy Women Riders (yes, Dawn, I’ve stolen your caption!!). The weather was beautiful, the rides were long, and the fun was filled with laughter all week. Our first Annual Cowgirls Only Week was a huge success. Our Montana Dude Horses will never be the same!!
And as the season ends I return to my desk for the winter, although it is supposed to be 88 degrees here in Bozeman today, with a forecast for SNOW on Wednesday. Only in Montana LOL. More later…………..debi
Isn’t history wonderful? We are so grateful to the DeVore family, and especially Jennifer DeVore, for providing us some photographs of the ranch that started back in the 30′s! The DeVore family had been coming to the ranch for generations since the 1930′s. Here is a photo Jen provided that was taken at Cameron Springs (near the draw) . It’s a picture of Charles and Emma Cameron with grandchildren (including Cameron DeVore-Jen’s father).
From Jennifer’s Notes:
“I know that my father’s grandfather and great-uncles – Charles Cameron and Perry and Zade Morgan (brothers of Charles’s wife) had a cabin at Cameron Springs. They all lived in Bozeman, families there since around 1870s or so. The cabin burned down sometime in the 40s (???) and that’s when my dad’s family started coming to what they called Benson’s. my dad still has Morgan cousins who live in Bozeman and there are DeVores in Helena but most of the family moved away from Montana but kept coming to the Gallatin to stay at the CWR pretty much every year. My own family started coming in the 70s when Vic Benson was there (I think my dad called him Benny). There was a great guy named John Haynes (? ) who used to come and sing camp songs around the fire.”
Sadly, Jennifer’s father, Cameron DeVore, passed away this year, but Jen said the family is going to try and arrange a family reunion this year at the ranch. I think they would be pleased to see how well we have taken care of this ranch. Jen is going to forward an old Cowboy songbook she found, which was put together by her uncle, Charles DeVore (who also sadly passed away several years ago). Charles put the songbook together specifically for the Covered Wagon Ranch, and sure to be used around the campfire next summer!
Here’s some more photos Jennifer provided to us. It’s the ranch in the 1940′s. Jeremy thinks one of the horses there is “JOSEPH” hahahahaha
What an awesome group of people and what incredible guests we have! Here’s what Jill, from Pennsylvania, had to say about us (in her own words!!):
“We arrived on Sunday and our first ride was on Monday with Val. During lunch, she shared her food with Josh and said the first day on the ranch you’re friends-after that you’re family. Boy, was that ever true. In five days we have fallen in love with this ranch, the horses and the staff. We have stayed at 5 Star resorts that should take a few lessons from you. You are one of a kind and a class act. Thank you for sharing your time with us. We are sad to leave tomorrow but we are already looking forward to coming back “home” to the Covered Wagon Ranch” Jill R., PA
Jill, Bill and Josh, we feel the same way about you guys!! Thanks so much,
Judith worked her magic again here at the ranch and Brett is making sure that he’s taking extra special care of the love she put into the ground for us. With all the great rain (at all the right times so our riding was never interrupted!!) the grass is so green and the wildflowers are rampant here at the ranch. Judith helped us add more color all around the ranch, and here are a few examples. Thanks Judith-we love you!!
Well, the weather is fabulous. The crew is working hard. And the wranglers are riding and clearing the trails getting ready for you. As they went out for a ride, Lee and Val spotted our first guests right on the ranch! Can you see the baby? They’re living right at ranch by the corrals!
Meanwhile, what do a couple of cowgirls wear when they work at a Montana Guest Ranch?? Well, Erin and Katie thought it was time to support the local economy and see what they could find before they ride a couple of Montana Dude Horses! We love you guys, and all your FABULOUSNESS!!
Happy Holidays Everyone!: 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.
September in Montana: 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