Posts Tagged ‘horseback riding in Montana’

A Tribute To A Dear Friend-Odessa

April 11th, 2012 by Debi Naccarto

Odessa-A Great Pack Mule

It is with great sadness that I must report we lost a long time friend and worker for us last week. Odessa, our personal pack mule and then a Covered Wagon Ranch mule, passed away from old age last week. She did not suffer and she was able to cross over up on Raspberry Butte, munching her last bit of fresh green grass enjoying the beautiful countryside.

She was a great mule. Back in the late 1990′s, while I still owned and operated my home infusion business in Montana, I would run across a lot of hardship cases of people who became ill and required my services at home but had no health insurance. Such was the case of an old, retired hunting outfitter who didn’t have insurance nor the money to pay for his prescriptions. After some conversation, I learned he still had his mule string from his outfitting days. He asked if I would be willing to accept one of his mules as payment for our services. Well, I knew darn well that this wouldn’t cover the cost of his home I.V. treatments, but I said I would do that. I knew that J.T. loves to use mules for his pack animals as opposed to a horse, and we only had the one 14 hand small mule named “Shorty”. Always wanting to please my beloved partner, I told this man that I would take Odessa home in exchange for payment in full. So back to Bozeman we went.

When J.T. saw her, his jaw dropped. She wasn’t exactly the tall, dark mule he was looking for. She was short, sorrel in color, and her belly was so large it made a burn barrel look like a soda can. In fact, her description was the “short, squatty mule”. How was she ever going to pack his gear and be able to walk down a trail? What did I know? To quote a common phrase I use: “Hey, I’m just girl from Joi-see”.

The first time he took her hunting with him was a real treat. J.T. was very proud of the fact that he just shot a beautiful six point bull elk (in fact, it’s the mount that’s hanging in the lodge to this day) and he needed to pack out the horns back to the trailhead. Well, she didn’t want any part of this. No matter how hard he tried, he could not mount those horns on her back. He stepped back. Thought a minute. Then remembered he heard somewhere that maybe he could blindfold her and she would take the cargo. So he took one of his camo t-shirts (quite frankly, I think the smell of this piece of clothing was far worse than any elk carcass) and blindfolded her. Voila!

Success!

Not only was her belly bigger than a barrel, but she loved to talk as she carried her load down the trail. She knew the exact size of her cargo on either side and could maneuver herself through trees and brush, no matter where she went. She was amazing.

Odessa served us well, and continued to do so once she started her job at the Covered Wagon Ranch. Many a pack trip took her up into camp.

She had a great life and was well cared for. She will be sorely missed.

In honor of Odessa, as with all our outstanding herd when they cross to the other side, “this one’s for you Odessa”

 

“Ode To Max” (a poem found in the Big Timber Pioneer one day)

“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 fulfill 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.”

Thank you Odessa,

debi

 

 

 

A Montana Pack Trip-A Fox-And A Bucket List-What’s In Common???

March 9th, 2012 by Debi Naccarto

Mama Fox

This is an amazing story and one that you may or may not believe-but it’s true. The business of dude ranching is so much more than horses and ranching and wildlife and spectacular country. It’s really the business of people-but only if you take the time to watch, sit and listen….and believe.

This family (unnamed) visited the ranch about 3 years ago. A family of four: mom, dad, daughter and son. They came to ride and they specifically came to book a pack trip in the back country in our wilderness camps. It was August. We were long into our season and starting to get tired. And we were busy. If the truth be known,  the wranglers were really struggling to make the trip. These pack trips are a lot of work for the crew and the ranch. Packing mules, preparing meals, being away for 3 days, etc. It’s a wonderful experience for the guests, as well as the crew, but it’s the preparation that’s overwhelming before it even starts.

This family was insistent on taking this trip and we just couldn’t even figure out why-but it was extremely important that they go on this trip. So off they go-3 wranglers, 4 mules and the family of four. Gone for 3 days. On the third day out and back to the ranch, they ride over a 10,000 foot mountain, with 360 degrees of spectacular views. you’re literally on top of the world. Once they reach this point, they soon return into radio contact with the ranch. We always anxiously await their call to make sure everything went okay.

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I Finally Get To Ride On My Own!!

March 1st, 2012 by Debi Naccarto

Olivia Loves Her Horse

The day has finally arrived when Olivia turned six and she gets to go out on her own. Now she can ride with Mom, Dad and sister Madeline and not have to stay behind. I’ve never seen a happier child! Here she is on her horse, “Captain Safety” getting ready for her first ride at the trail head.  It’s a big day for the whole family.

Boone and Olivia going through the "ropes"

Before she takes off on her first ride, she is given a thorough orientation on her horse (as do all guests at the ranch).

I’m proud to say that Olivia did extremely well that week they were here. She went on every ride that her family did, including half day rides as well as full day rides! She finally got to experience the spectacular country that one can only see on horseback. Our rides take us throughout the Gallatin National Forest, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, and Yellowstone National Park.

There were times she was pretty tuckered out, but she held her own with the best of them. Here at the Covered Wagon Ranch, our horseback riding is our niche. We’re a small guest ranch, with only ten historic log cabins and a maximum capacity limited to only 24 guests. We keep our riding groups small and according to ability. At the very most, we have five guests to a wrangler and the guests get to participate in where and how long they want to ride each day. With over a million acres of forest and Park to ride through, our guests never get bored. If anything, it keeps them coming back for more!

And here’s the exciting conclusion. Mia and John’s story will continue. They are now expecting another baby!! We’ll get to experience this whole cycle all over again. That’s dude ranching!

Part 2: A Little Cowgirl Grows Up On Our Dude Ranch

February 24th, 2012 by Debi Naccarto

A Family Grows Up At Our Ranch-Backpacking The Baby

So let’s continue our story about Mia, John, Madeline and Olivia at the ranch. Olivia was still too young to do much more than stay with Mom and Dad. They had to take turns going on rides since you have to be six to ride out on the trails. Here, John is hiking her up to Benson’s Point while Mia and Madeline are riding. The youngsters still get to enjoy the horses and are ponied around the ranch.

As she “grew up” on the ranch each year that the family visited, she loved being around the horses, which is pretty common for the kids at our ranch. They feel like the horse is their own and spend time petting them and grooming them. The older she gets the more she realizes she wants to be a real cowgirl. Here’s a picture of Olivia as “Cowgirl Fashionista”. Next week, “Olivia Gets To Ride”!

Horseback Riding in Montana and How We Love Our Horses!

February 7th, 2012 by Debi Naccarto

Mia and Oliva Giving A Treat

Mia and Olivia Get To Give Special Treats To Their Favorite Dude Horse at the Montana Dude Ranch

I mean, after all, it is the season of Valentine’s Day, isn’t it? And we don’t always have to talk about love between humans. Some of the deepest love we have is for our pets, and here at the Covered Wagon Ranch our guests get the pleasure of realizing that love with their horses. So I thought I would take a few minutes and write about  How To Say “I Love You” to your horse.

To help me along, the February 2012 issue of Horse & Rider has an article on just this topic! On the very last page in the “You Said It” column, they interviewed several horse owners on how they express their affection for their favorite horse. Here are some of those quotes:

“I halter my horses and take them out of their pens to graze in an open field. I bring along a curry comb so I can groom them and tell them what good boys they are” K.P. from Washington…..”I give my mare hugs, pats, scratches behind the ears, and kisses on the nose” L.D. from Ohio…”I give my gelding a carrot, cradle his head in my arms, and stroke his forehead while I tell him what a good boy he is-and how much I love him” D.L. from Colorado…”My horses get neck hugs and chest rubs” K.S. from Michigan….”During a trail ride, I provide a nice stop at the best clover patch in the field” W.C. from Kentucky, and my favorite: “I close my eyes and lean my forehead onto my horses’ necks and talk to them softly while I caress them. My horses hold their heads down and shut their eyes while I do that.” A.L. from Colorado. I think there’s nothing better in this world than the beautiful eyes of a horse, the smell of their hair on their neck, and the sound of leather from a saddle. That says it all.

And remember, it’s not all about us. Thanks to Lyn D. from England for this photo, but our horses love it too! Happy Valentine’s Day from our wonderful herd of horses and for all the love you share with them at the ranch.

Feeling The Love At The Dude Ranch In Montana

 

Fun Times At A Montana Dude Ranch

March 3rd, 2011 by Debi Naccarto

 
  J.T. and I were going through some old photos of the Ranch today, which then turned into a day long (and probably a week long) project! Which then turned into a trip to the office supply store to buy a scanner! Which then prompted me to start a series of old photographs about the ranch. Only a few of these photos have dates, but we have thoroughly enjoyed sorting through these pictures.
It seems that the cowboy attire hasn’t changed much in the years that followed. This picture was taken in 1958. The last name on the back of the picture is the Rydell Family when they went on Vacation At A Montana Dude Ranch (see below).

Life At The Corrals

 And then we found this old photo of the cookout at the ranch. Seems like “dudes” dressed a little different in those days. Wish I had the year this was taken!
Stay tuned for more good times at the Ranch!

My Favorite Horseback Riding Picture

Horseback Riding At A Montana Dude Ranch

February 16th, 2011 by Debi Naccarto

A Dude Horse Perspective of Viewing Wildlife Near Yellowstone National Park

 Do you ever wonder what the horse is thinking when s/he encounters the wildlife out on a ride? It never ceases to amaze me. How come I get spooked but they just do the old “ho hum” deal and move on? I must admit, I’m grateful that this is the response I get!

Our guests love to see the animals when they go out on a ride. Sometimes we chuckle and tell them we’re going to ride where we “set the stage to see the animals” . It’s a real treat to see an elk, a moose, a deer, a wolf, and especially a bear when out on a ride. June is the best month to try and catch sight of one in the wild. As the weather gets warmer, the animals head for higher ground and can only be spotted in the very early morning or late at night. September is also “optimal wildlife viewing time” as well.

Catching a glimpse of Bullwinkle

 

 

Moose are really tough to spot and pretty much keep to themselves. They usually have their calves in June as well. We typically have a “resident moose” at the ranch and mom and her baby can be seen around the ranch if you’re lucky.

Mama Moose and Baby Taking In Lunch Viewed right from the Cabin at the Dude Ranch

 

 

Wolves are always a topic of conversation around the dude ranch, especially since we are so close to Yellowstone National Park. They have been spotted on the ranch, but on rides as well.

Wolf At The Trailhead

 

And last, but not least, everyone is always on the hunt for the Grizzly Bear! This past year we had guests who had never seen a bear on their rides, and have been coming to the dude ranch in Montana for years. Well, Boone took them out on a fantastic ride and they saw seven bears in one day!!

A Grizzly Bear Cub Near Yellowstone National Park

 

Every day is a different experience and so is every month. But I can tell you this-it’s always exciting for both guest as well as wrangler! And even though the horses are pretty much cool, calm and collected, I know they are always happy to head back to the dude ranch for a bite to eat!

A Happy Horse At The End Of The Day

TOP TEN CWR DUDE HORSES FOR 2010

January 27th, 2011 by Debi Naccarto

TOP TEN MONTANA DUDE HORSES FOR THE YEAR 2010

 

The Covered Wagon Ranch is pleased to announce our Top Ten Dude Horses for this past season.  We are really proud of our entire herd, and each horse contributes in some way to the overall success of our operation; but these are the stars of the show.  The Top Ten are as follows:

10.    COLONEL – Colonel is a big, black gelding who handles many of our larger riders with confidence and ease.  This year he provided 38 guest rides, and two wrangler rides for a total of 40 out of the possible 96 riding days.

9.    BUSTER -  Buster is a smaller, sorrel gelding with a fair amount of age on him.       

       Very gently and friendly, he is pretty darn solid in the mountains, even with his very  

       crooked from leg.  Riders who can keep him from enjoying the green grass (at his

       convenience) really like his stable personality.  He had 39 guest rides, 1 wrangler

       ride, and 2 crew rides for a total of 42.

8.    EMERSON – Emerson is our Tennessee Walker who is very comfortable for our 

       guests riding pleasure.  He is noted for his high socks on each leg.  He came to

       us about 4 years ago from Kentucky, and has taken to mountain life quite well.

       We have never worried about Emerson missing a meal, he seems to always maintain

       a rather rotund figure.  Emerson provided 40 guest rides and 3 wrangler rides for a

       total of 43.

7.    TRIGGER – Trigger is a good sized, and handsome palomino gelding.  A favorite of

       many guests, he has always been a very dependable mountain horse with a very

       steady mind.  He and his good buddy Chisum are always reluctant to go to pasture

       on Saturdays, and are often seen being pursued (and probably cursed) by a couple

       of wranglers way behind the rest of the herd.  He gave 43 guest rides and 3 wrangler

       rides.

6.    RENO – Reno is a handsome sorrel ranch raised gelding.  He came to us from

       Georgia, and has become a really nice mountain horse.  A couple of years ago he

       quickly became a wrangler favorite, and the past two years has performed quite

       well as a guest horse.  Reno provided 44 guest rides and 2 wrangler rides for a

       total of 46.

5.    PROXIMO – Proximo is a very tall (well over 16 hands) palomino appaloosa

       gelding.  He had suffered a very serious leg wound two years ago, and was used

       sparingly in 2009.  This year one of our wranglers took him under his wing, and

       used him for leading guest rides as well as wrangling horses to and from pasture.

       He provided 48 wrangler rides out of 96 possible.

4.    SIXGUN -  Sixgun is a beautiful blood red bay gelding with a “zorro” star on his

       forehead.  A perennial favorite of the ranch, he has always performed at a high level

       for our guests.  He provided 49 guest rides, and one wrangler ride for a total of 50.

3.    TUGBOAT – Tug is probably one of the best “kids” horses on the ranch.  He is a

       tall (upper 15 hands) and handsome bay gelding.  Tug has a great mind, a very

       kind eye, and is truly a gentle giant.  He has been a Dude horse all of his life, and

       does his job extremely well.  Tug gave 49 guest rides, 1 wrangler ride, and a crew

       ride for a total of 51.

2.    PRIZM – Prizm is a tri-colored paint of medium size who had an exceptional year

       for the ranch.  He has always been unnoticed in the past, and seems to just do his

       job without fanfare.  He finally got recognized for the solid horse that he is, and

       quickly became a favorite of all of those who had the opportunity to ride him. 

       He provided 44 guest rides, 7 wrangler rides, and 1 crew ride for a total of 52.

And finally, drum roll please…………. The number 1 horse at the Covered Wagon Ranch, for the third straight year is…………

       DEUCE – Deuce is a very special horse on the ranch, and very quietly, confidently,

       and reliably performs his job at the highest level.  He is a ranch raised gelding who, 

       before coming to the ranch, had performed as a roping horse on a working cattle

       ranch.  Since coming to us, he has shown a great mind in the mountains, and can

       still “get after it” if called upon to do so.  He is an extraordinary Dude Horse, and we 

       are really proud of the excellent service that he provides our guests each summer.                                  

       Deuce provided 59 guest rides and 1 Wrangler ride for a total of 60 rides out of the 

       possible 96 days.

Congratulations to these great Montana Dude Horses for being the best of the best.  If you have the pleasure to join us at the ranch, tip your hat to the hardest working employees at the ranch, for they are the true essence of the Dude Ranch experience.

Enjoying the Wildflowers at a Montana Dude Ranch

March 4th, 2010 by Debi Naccarto

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.

Now you don’t have to be on the back of a horse to enjoy the flowers at our Montana Dude Ranch. Maybe you’re enjoying the Montana wildflowers while doing some incredible flyfishing in Montana in our pristine rivers, streams and lakes that surround our guest ranch.

Or maybe you just want to sit on the deck of your cozy historic Montana log cabin

 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)

All About Montana Dude Horses at the Covered Wagon Ranch

February 27th, 2010 by Debi Naccarto

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!

And then, of course, we get the pleasure of horsebacking riding in Montana once you’re at the dude ranch and get to see them at work in some spectacular country.

But best of all, we get to love them, and I know they love us too! There’s nothing better than hugging your horse :-)

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