FALL NEWS

November 19th, 2018 by coveredwagonranch

HELLO CWR FAMILY!

We had a wonderful season at the ranch this summer. Actually we extended our season this year into October and had a great success, so we will continue to do in the future. It was nice to wrap up the season with fall weather, a little bit of snow and a great group of guests.

We will reopen the gates June 10th. The reservations are crazy for next year and availability is getting pretty limited especially for June and July. The horses are doing wonderful! We are wintering the herd at our property we call Braxyer which is a complete change on CWR history but sometimes change is good and to be able to see them every day is a good thing! We have been working a lot on fence out there, different pastures and built a 5-acre feed lot where we will feed them this winter. They are going through about 2,100 pounds of hay per day! Yes, you heard that right a little over a ton a day. Needless to say, our bale bed truck has been getting used and we have been feeding every couple of days.

Kurt and I are excited to announce we bought a house in the valley! We originally were going to build at the property where are horses are but decided to put that on hold and ending up buying a 107-year-old house in town. We officially closed on our new house in the town of Three Forks (90 minutes from the ranch) October 1st. We started construction/remodeling on the projects we wanted done with the house and wrapping that up in the next week. It has been quite the process. We cannot even begin to explain how excited we are to have all our horses in one place and so close to our new home (15 minutes). The animals are adjusting and enjoying ‘City Life.’  We are closer to the horses, family, schools and a community and are loving it!

We officially sold the hunting business in May and Kurt enjoyed not being in hunting camp for the first time in 15+ years. It was nice to have him at home and his help at the ranch in September/October. With us selling the hunting business we are cutting down our herd size. It has been a challenge to us emotionally, but we have been very fortunate in the homes they went to and everyone has kept in contact with how they are doing. Kurt just got back from delivering 6 across the country and putting 5,300 miles on and being gone for 8 days. After 22 years at the ranch Toby was retired to long time guests in North Dakota and reunited with old Covered Wagon horses. We have two babies due in April 2019 and I plan on barrel racing throughout the winter.

Braxton is beyond excited for Christmas and has been begging us for the last two weeks to put up the Christmas tree and asking when is elf will be back. Kurt is pretty adamant we wait until after Thanksgiving but maybe a cute 4-year old can persuade him into putting it up this week! He is enjoying pre-school and loving the new house. Sawyer is 100 miles an hour and a hot mess. He talks non-stop and is right there with his big brother. The things he says make me laugh a lot. As for Kurt and I we are doing great and enjoying our life.  

On behalf of the Covered Wagon Ranch and the Puckett’s we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great Holiday!

Melissa

 

So Long, Dudes!

October 9th, 2018 by coveredwagonranch

Here at the CWR, things are winding down.  Moving horses to winter pasture, shutting down cabins, filing end-of-year paperwork, and a million other chores fill our days, while we try to stay warm.

The few guests willing to brave Montana’s first snows are a welcome distraction from the closing “to-do” list.  If you are one of those brave souls, you certainly get a worth-while reward: lower numbers, lower rates, and elegant vistas of snow-powdered mountain slopes.  Plus the horses are getting adorably fluffy.

 

Borrowing the farrier’s forge to warm up

Even Braxton is helping clean the lodge!

 

You have to get all those hard to reach places!

 

Aspens

 

Uno keeping up with the latest horse fall fashion

 

First snow

 

We’ll be sad to say goodbye to all the new friends we made, both human and equine, but we’ll always have our memories of this summer.  So so long, Dudes!  We’ll see you next year!

 

How to Survive a Dude Ranch

August 22nd, 2018 by coveredwagonranch

How to Survive a Dude Ranch

Let me tell you, being a guest at a dude ranch is a lot of work.  I can tell by watching our guests that they have it rough.  Most nights they’re moaning and groaning after dinner about how full they are, and sometimes they stay in our hot tub so long I’m sure they must feel terrible.  It’s so bad here on the ranch, that some guests are crying by the time they leave!

So if you decide to visit the CWR, here are five important pointers on how to leave intact.

  • Love on your horse. The Covered Wagon is all about horses.  We love our horses and we want you to as well.  Once you get here, we’ll match you with a horse to ride for your entire stay.  When you meet your horse, introduce yourself!  Scratch her behind the ears, give her a treat.  You can even help brush her or saddle her if you want.  You’ll soon be BFFs (best friends forever)!

 

 

  • Be kind to the crew. They don’t need their ears scratched, but a friendly “hello” when you see them is nice.  At the CWR especially, the crew is family, and we want you to be part of our ranch family too.   Trust me, your stay at the ranch will be way more fun if you interact with the crew, simply because they’re fun people.

 

  • Dress the part. I don’t mean you have to wear a cowboy hat and flannel every day (although let’s be honest, those are the coolest fashion choices available).  But you will need cowboy boots or at least riding boots.  And Montana weather is kind of weird, so bring sweatshirts and shorts, even in July.  Be prepared for any weather and you won’t be unpleasantly surprised.

 

 

  • Break the diet. Don’t even try to watch your weight while you’re on the ranch.  Just forget about it.  The will power required to resist our chef’s magnificent cooking is more than one human could possibly possess.  Besides, you’re on vacation.  Who diets on vacation?

 

  • Don’t forget the rec hall.  We specialize in horses, but there’s a lot to do on the ranch besides riding.  Guests often seem to forget that we have a pool table, piano, and plenty of board games in the recreation hall.  You can also borrow some of our fly-fishing rods and go down to the Taylor Fork Creek or the Gallatin River.  We have some tubes for floating down the creek too, on hot summer days.  Or you can take a vigorous hike up the hill behind the ranch to Benson Point, which provides a splendid view of the canyon.  And of course there’s the hot tub.

 

 

So there you have it: everything you need to know to survive your stay at the Covered Wagon Ranch.  Happy trails!

 

New Girl

July 19th, 2018 by coveredwagonranch

There’s a new girl on the ranch!  Tassel the filly was born on June 3 to Rain Dancer.  She had a bit of a rough start, but now she’s healthy and happy, and stealing hats like a pro.

            Even though Tassel was born a month after her due date, she was what the vet called dismature – meaning she was in the oven but wasn’t cooking.  She didn’t get enough colostrum, her bones were not calcified, and her cartilage was not completely hardened. Tassal spent her first few weeks at the vet, but thanks to Dr. Flint of Montana Equine, she got to come back to the ranch.  After a few more weeks recuperating and letting her cartilage harden, she was able to roam the property with her mom, making friends and delighting guests.

            Sassy and curious, Tassel loves to spend her days nibbling guests’ sleeves, playing with the ranch dogs, and getting her neck scratched.  Some day she might take guests out on the trail, but for now she’s busy stealing their hearts.

 

 

 

Meet the 2018 CWR Crew!

June 21st, 2018 by coveredwagonranch

Hello, my Covered Wagon Ranch Family! The time has arrived us and we have opened our doors for the 2018 season! You all know Kurt, Braxton Sawyer and me, but I thought this year I would do a Blog to introduce our crew we have on board! Below, you will find a short bio of each CWR 2018 Crew Member and a picture to go with! We are excited for you to meet each and every one of them this summer!

Executive Chef

This is Chef Roy James Stegall’s third season at the Covered Wagon Ranch. This year as the Executive Chef his goals are developing new and exciting pastries, new and ancient techniques, and food that welcomes the soul home. Chef Roy James is originally from Southern California and has cooked all over the West Coast and Rocky Mountains. His cuisine has strong ties to Italian, Mexican, Argentinian, Southern, and Down-Home Country!  “I truly love cooking everything for everyone. It’s an honor to feed people life.” At the Covered Wagon you can always count on cookie jars always being full, gourmet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. “I believe in the Covered Wagon Ranch. Our mission statement is Come as a guest and leave as family. That statement is something I hold dear to my heart.”

 

Dinner Chef

Hello, my name is Daniel. I arrived out west in 1998 at the age of 17 and started working at the Old Faithful Inn where I stayed for four summers. I grew up fly fishing in north Georgia with my dad and my love for fly fishing and the mountains pushed me to make the big move out west for good. I worked at the 320 Ranch for ten years running their bar and worked at the Cabin Bar and Grille on the mountain running their bar for nine years. I met Kurt when I first came out to Montana and when I heard they were looking for another chef I reached out to him. My passion for the outdoors, hiking, fly fishing and skiing brought me out here and I have no desire to leave. This is home now!

 

 

Head Wrangler

Hi everyone! My name is Jordan Turner, I’m a wrangler here at Covered Wagon Ranch. I’m 22 years old and originally from Texas, although I’ve spent the last two years in Wyoming. This ranch really sparked my interest after first talking with Kurt and Melissa and coming to realize how passionate they are about this place and the horses they have. They know each and every horse like the back of their hand and I am very thankful to get to work with and learn from people that share the same passion as I do. They welcomed my two horses and I in with open arms and I have heard nothing but good stories after good stories about summers on the ranch. Looking forward to a great season and lots of miles in the saddle. See you guys when you get here! Happy Trails

 

Wrangler

My name is Lizzy Anderson, I am 20 years old. I was born and raised in Chugwater, Wyoming. I have worked on our family ranch my whole life, riding horses, working cows, fixing fence, doing pretty much everything ranching requires. I moved to Montana looking to start my own business as an Equine Bodywork Therapist. What drew me to the Covered Wagon ranch was the opportunity to do what I love (which is anything horses) and to have the opportunity to meet the great people who will visit us this summer. I also really appreciate the way Kurt and Melissa keep the cowboy traditions alive.

Wrangler

Ana hails from California’s central coast; exactly half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Though not from a ranching family, Ana has been riding and working with horses for 20 years, and prior to coming to the Covered Wagon she managed events for one of California’s oldest cattle ranches. She chose the Covered Wagon because she prefers getting to know her guests on a personal level​​ and wants to be able to provide them with an intimate, hands-on ranch experience. Ana is excited to be working in the barn this summer, sharing the special magic that only horses can provide with all her new Covered Wagon friends!

 

Wrangler

Hi, my name is Sydney Dressler I am from Dodgeville, Wisconsin and just graduated with an Animal Science degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin. I will be a Wrangler this summer at the Covered Wagon Ranch. I am excited to join the ranch family as it combines my passion for horses and the western way of life as well as the joy of working with people from all backgrounds who have similar interests.

 

 

Ranch Hand/Backup Wrangler      

Hello, my name is Weston Hamilton and I am 19 years old. This will be my first summer at the Covered Wagon Ranch. I am from a little town located in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee called Tellico Plains. There is not much to do in my hometown that doesn’t relate to the outdoors! I am very excited about working this summer because it has always been a dream of mine to “cowboy”. I have competed in rodeos my entire life and have horses of my own, but there is a drawing of a western soul to head west. I learned of the ranch from a good friend who worked on the ranch the previous year. I have been blessed to be hired as a ranch hand and I hope to learn as much as I can about the area, the people, and the western lifestyle.

 

Ranch Hand/Dish     

Hello, my name is Cole! I am from Cumming Georgia. I came out to the Covered Wagon Ranch to work with Melissa and Kurt so that I could learn as much and possible about horses and taking care of the land. I also wanted to get away and find who I really want to be! No better place to do it than 2,000 miles away from home! In my free time I like to Rodeo and hang out with my friends. I can’t wait to see what this season has to offer me out here in Montana at the Covered Wagon Ranch!

 

Ranch Hand/Dish

Hello, my name is Brody Ross, I am 19 years old from Canton, Georgia. I first heard about the Covered Wagon last year when I had some friends that came out here and worked. I love to ride bulls and travel the rodeo circuit. I hope to be working here in years to come and call this home.

 

Alternate

Hi everyone! My name is Misty Seppala. I’m from a large family in a small town of southern New Hampshire. I was craving adventure and a rejuvenating break from work before diving into college.  I learned about Covered Wagon Ranch from a friend, who had worked for CWR a couple years ago (Clarissa). Her stories and experience here were too tempting to pass, so here I am! My position as the ‘alternate’ will be to cover days off for some of the other crew members and to help out wherever I am needed.  I am excited to make many wonderful new friends and am quite honored to be a part of the CWR crew!

Housekeeper

Hello, I am Hannah Allen! I grew up in Florida and have lived throughout the South.  In 2013 I graduated from the University of Montevallo and aspire to someday work professionally as a writer.  In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, gardening, and watching pointless videos on YouTube.  I’ve always wanted to live Out West, and I was drawn to the welcoming, family atmosphere of the Covered Wagon Ranch.  I’ll be working as one of your housekeepers, and I look forward to the meeting everyone!

 

Nanny/House

I’m Desirae Freeman, I am a proud dog mom to two wild and rambunctious Siberian Huskies from a small community in West Virginia that most people have never heard of named Canvas. Growing up something that I always watched with my Great-Grandfather and Dad was old Western Movies such as Walking Tall; Big Jake or and of the Lonesome Dove series. As a result of that I always made the comment that I would live in the West one day, it became a goal of mine. Last year when I came across Covered Wagon I knew I had to take the chance and submit an application. As luck would have it I ended up getting the Nanny position.

 

 

Head Server

My name is Caleigh….I’m from Land ‘O Lakes, FL.  I’ve been riding horses since I could walk and have always loved just being around a horse, they are such intelligent creatures and have taught me more than I could ever have imagined. I have wanted to come West as long as I can remember, I’m always looking for an adventure and this is best way to start. I’m excited to be here, the views are unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  We have great beaches in Florida but we live around sea level, so the mountains are something I’ve always dreamed about.  I hope to take away from this experience, new friends, quality saddle time, working experience and hopefully enough money to put a down payment on my first car.  I have fallen in love with the Covered Wagon Ranch, after only being here for a short amount of time. the state of Montana is breathtaking. I appreciate my new family, Kurt and Melissa, for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m very excited to see what the future holds for me and the ranch.

 

What Is One More? 100 To Be Exact!

May 24th, 2018 by coveredwagonranch

Do what makes you happy…. okay animals make me happy!

As most of you know Kurt and I do not have a shortage of animals 94 horses and mules (soon to be 95 after Rain foals), Devil the cat, Nellie the pig and 3 dogs…well that number has now changed.

Last spring, after we purchased our property by Three Forks, Montana that we now refer to as ‘Braxyer’ named after our two boys, Braxton and Sawyer. We had a few dogs occasionally show up. Each time they showed up Austin and Sarah would call the owner (they had collars at the time) and the owner would bring them home. Well we moved up to the ranch last May the season got started, fall came, winter came and now it is spring 2018. We are back at the property living and so are the 1-3 stray dogs, this time without collars on.

At first Kurt would call the owner and he would come get his dog. This started out to be 1-2 times a week. At first, him or his mother would come get the dog/dogs. They lived about a mile down the road from our property. Well as time went on we quit calling because we would leave messages and the dog would still be at the property. We finally gave in and decided to feed the brown dog, who was nameless, and we called Brownie for several days before learning his name was Levi.

(He made himself right at home)

Now let me set the scene here. This a lab, (Kurt’s least favorite dog), a male (Kurt does not like boy dogs) and we have three dogs already.

After three days of Levi living with us and treating him as our own, we were working on the corrals and a random car stopped. A lady steps out of the vehicle “Is that my dog or your dog?” My response, “Well that depends, it may have been your dog, but it is my dog now…” She laughs and says, “Joint Custody?” and comes in the gate to retrieve her dog. He is a happy dog (no signs of abuse) and jumps in the car. When I asked why she didn’t come get him three days ago she tells me she knew where he was she saw him in the pasture the day before and she would “bring over a bag of dog food.” And just like that Levi was gone. Well a week passed, and it is Monday morning. It is storming, and I am loading Braxton in the car to head to pre-school. On the way to my car I find two wet and cold labs. I immediately got frustrated, Kurt called and tried to reach the owner and had no luck, so I loaded the two wet, big dogs, in my car and drove them home. I will leave this part short and say I was pretty stern with the fact that if they didn’t keep their dogs at home I would not be returning them or calling them anymore.

A few days later we were at the dog owner’s house after buying a building from him. We talked about Levi and our immediate love for him and how ‘good of a dog’ he is. He proceeded to tell us that he moved into town and couldn’t take them all so Levi was forced to stay with his parents and their three dogs. Kurt and him talked back and forth about it and he was persistent that if he is happy with us he should just live with us.

Levi was adopted from a kill shelter in California by this guy’s mother 7 years ago. He must have grown up around kids because he is amazing with our two boys (more so than our other three). He has a kind eye, potty trained, well behaved and listens great. Unlike most dogs our three girls like him.

Over the course of the next few days we were at Levi’s owner’s house a lot preparing to move the building we bought from them. The renter, who lived in a house behind the main house, shared stories about Levi and that he most likely left the house and wondered to ours because no one was ever home, he was only fed once a day and said sometimes that didn’t happen and would get into the trash.

The last day of moving the building Levi came home with us and has never left. We didn’t tell them we were taking him, but they knew where he went. It has been about 6 weeks since he came home with us. Like all our dogs, he is on a verbal leash and hasn’t tried to leave once. He has never got in the garbage, had an accident, got into it with our dogs and Sawyer and Braxton love to cuddle with him. Our best guess is that he is 10-11ish, a Chocolate lab and he is semi-crippled. He is pretty Bow legged, stairs are hard for him, but that tail is always wagging or thumping on something. His eyes are bright, he has fattened up and well Levi makes number 100  here at the Covered Wagon Ranch where he will spend the rest of his life loved on by our family and the Covered Wagon Ranch Family!

Melissa

 

 

 

CHECK IT OUT!

April 30th, 2018 by coveredwagonranch

Hello Covered Wagon Ranch Family! I wanted to drop a line and let you know of a few things to check out!

******RAFFLE DRAWING*******
Kurt and I decided to do a raffle for 2 three-night stays at the ranch for 2018 season a value of $3,000. We sold 60 spots @ $50 ticket. We had lots of interest and sold out all the tickets. We did the drawing today and a big congratulation to Trish and Travis Kreiser for winning! I was so excited when I called her that I forgot to tell her who I was and just shouted you won! She needed some good news and today she got it! Trish and Travis purchased 3 tickets for the raffle.

 Line of horses on the road at 4UR

*****SPECIAL*******

 We are offering a few Spring Specials that you do not want to miss out on!

Offering a 15% discount the week of October 7th (adults only) on singles and 20% discount if you book more than one person!

Offering a 10% discount for the week of June 4th

Must book at least 6 nights!

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for giveaways, live feeds and as always I appreciate you following my Blog!

Merry Christmas from the Covered Wagon Ranch & The Pucketts!

December 22nd, 2017 by coveredwagonranch

Merry Christmas!

Wow, I can’t believe another year has come and go. Time seems to go faster and faster every year. This year was a very busy one for Kurt and I. We welcomed our second son, Sawyer, into the world in January. Braxton wasn’t too sure of him at first, but they are now best friends and always into something!

I hit the ground running, (literally) six weeks post C-section Barrel Racing on a few new horses, a gray head horse named Uno (which most of you know the story behind that pony if you don’t do ask it is a good one).   I am seasoning him on the barrels and he has quickly won my heart and been my go to horse. He is the one I hit the trails on the most this summer (even over Pancake). 

Perry, who isn’t new to barrels but was new to me; unfortunately, she was out with a couple different injuries most of the summer. However, she still ended the season with two buckles and reserve national champion in my division! Needless to say when she did run she was spot on! Lastly, my rock-solid go to Barrel Horse Princess Daizy. I keep telling myself I am going to retire her and put a baby in her belly but she hasn’t told me that is what she wants yet. I am sure it won’t be long until Braxton steals her from me as he enjoys exercising her for me in the summer.  All three horses won me enough money to cover my entry fees…which is always a plus and I learned an incredible amount of information.     

We bought a little place near Three Forks, Montana that we will eventually build our house on, but for now we are using it for shoulder pasture in the spring and fall to keep the big herd and to keep our broodmares, babies and personal horses at in the winter time. Kurt and Papa T did some work this spring on the property and we now have a couple different pastures. There is a spring fed pond on the property and we even snorkeled in the pond! Needless to say we spent a ton of time out there this spring and most every Sunday this summer.  

 

In April we welcomed Rita’s third baby, Logan. He was the first baby born at the new property near Logan, hence his name. He is a full brother to Miranda and Dollar and a half brother to Blake, Gwen and Sass. This means lots and lots of BLUE ROANS around the ranch! Speaking of Blue Roans most of them we put more rides on this year and started the foundation for several of the younger ones. They should be ready to hit the trails come this summer. We bred Rain Dancer for a 2018 foal and bred Rita back too, this time to a High Brow Cat Stud. We are excited to see Rita’s baby’s future as cowy as she is!

Crew got here in May, we opened the doors to Guests in June had a very fun and successful season at the ranch. As always it was full of lots of wildlife, lots of miles on young and seasoned horses, oodles and oodles of stories and even more friendships were made.

This fall we finished up the season with our ‘Adults Only’ month, had a wild third week of September with a ton of snow and super cold weather and then ended the season a week later with gorgeous weather and no snow.  

We retired two long time Covered Wagon Ranch’ Horses, Bo and Cheyenne, to North Dakota and brought three more into our herd, Roanie, Maggie and Shasta! We are super excited for our guests to get to know them. That brings our herd to 96 head now at the ranch! Hard to believe we bought the ranch 4 years ago with 40 and there are only 12 of those horses left!

This is the first time in a long time we haven’t had any horses at the ranch….which means that Nikita is turned out too! This is a big moment for us as she has been doctored and in the stall for two years. She is in a small pasture with Winston (who is also healing from an injury) and they are enjoying it. She still has a road to recovery, but it is a step we never thought would come. The rest of the herd is doing great and loving their life. Rita and Rain’s bellies are growing, the colts too and the older ones are showing the younger ones the ropes. It won’t be long when we are gathering them to start all over again. 

As always this time of year we try and head over to our friends to help them out with their annual Bull sale. Kurt took a new little filly he bought this summer, Drifter, and I stayed true to the tradition and brought Pancake. Both of the horses did great, but it is hard to beat my big old Boy Pancake doing any kind of ranch work. We had a ton of fun moving cows and it was great for our horses and dogs to get out and do some work too. 

December has been so much fun with our little family preparing for the holiday. The lodge is decorated and we have five trees up!

The biggest one is 12’ and Braxton was beyond excited to decorate it.  We have a visitor from the North Pole, Red the Elf, that is watching over Braxton and Sawyer and returning to Santa each night to report on their behavior (I wonder if he can stay year-round)

and Braxton has been on his best behavior.

Braxton started pre-school in Gateway and is loving every minute of it. Sawyer is all but walking and is super busy. As for Kurt and I we are finally catching our breath and excited to spend Christmas in our home with our family and friends. We hope whatever holiday you are celebrating this December that is a great one!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the Covered Wagon Ranch and the Pucketts! 

   

What She Did to My Horse is Unbelievable!

November 2nd, 2017 by coveredwagonranch

As you are aware by now I am particular to horses and you could say a little obsessed at times, but I have my reasons! Deuce and his best friend Felix were the kind of horses that you spent years trying to find and sometimes you never did. The horse we wished we had forty of. The one the kids could climb under and all over. Where you could give him a year off and go grab him out of pasture and he was the same horse he was at the end of a long season at the ranch. He was honest, sure footed, broke, and reliable.  Kids and adults could both ride him but he was especially partial to the ladies….especially one lady.

Deuce is the kind of horse that you can see and feel everything when you look into his eyes. His eyes are sincere and deep, I always referred to them as ‘Grandpa Eyes.’ They were what the horse world refers to as kind and when we lost his best friend, Felix those eyes changed and it seemed like Deuce just couldn’t get a break.

Last spring we went out of town for a family trip and Will (the previous owner) said he would run up and check on horses at our new pasture. That is when we got the phone call that changed everything….

I could see Kurt’s facial expression and I remember the whole room going silent. Kurt got off the phone and said it is one of our horses. He said, “I am not sure which one, Will said it was a bay” and unfortunately Will didn’t have the ability to get him out of the backcountry but knew he wouldn’t make it through the night. So we called Keaton who came to Deuce’s rescue.

When he arrived, he found Deuce off by himself. It looked like you sliced his fetlock off, the swelling was horrific and you can tell he had lost all his energy. Some way somehow Keaton was able to get Deuce on the trailer that night and take him to Hardaway Clinic.

The next morning Kurt and I arrived at the clinic first thing to find our horse in pretty rough shape. It turns out Deuce had fallen through an old box car that was converted into a bridge. Dr. Hardaway explained the risks, the severity of the injury and we talked about quality of life for Deuce. Deuce was getting up in age, but we saw the look in his eyes. He wasn’t ready to give up. So, Kurt and I made the choice that so many people frowned on us for making. We brought him home.

Over the next two months Deuce was in a stall. We would change his leg every four days and rewrap it. It was slowly healing but because it was in a high motion area we knew it would take at least six months if ever to heal.

You know that lady that changes the mood of everything when she enters a room? The lady that is full of joy and her smile is infectious? The one that you wish could be there on every bad day?

Ya I know one too, her given name is Mary but we call her Bling-Bling because if you ever see her coming you will understand why. She is known for her silver, her turquoise and her love to wear as much of it as humanly possible. She has the best sense of humor, love for life and loves to flirt with the boys….who of course dote over her.

Mary had been coming to the ranch long before I had, but that didn’t matter to her she took me in and loved me as if she had known me my whole life. When we found out we were pregnant you can believe she was over the top and quickly her name changed to Grandma Bling Bling.

As most of you know when you arrive at the Covered Wagon you are matched with a horse. Most of the time that is your horse for the week, in Mary’s case that was her horse for 11+ years. Mary was matched with Deuce and the love for one another began. Every year Mary had to her ride her boy and as hard as it is to always let the guests ride the horse they request (especially such a popular horse) Mary was different, they had a bond that I’ll admit I really didn’t see or get until last summer. Mary loved and loved and loved on Deuce and some times that is as far as they would get. I can see it like it was yesterday her telling me “I am going to just hang at the ranch and love on Deuce” and she would laugh and put her hand on my shoulder.

I truly believe Deuce looked forward to Mary’s visit and the attention she gave him and last summer was no different. Grandma Bling Bling arrived at the ranch, but this time with a hurt horse and not any hurt horse, her Deuce. I cannot even imagine what Mary was feeling, but I do know her love for that horse was not going to change. She immediately headed to the corrals to see her boy and there he was in the stall.

Over the last couple of weeks Deuce had been laying down in his stall a lot. He wasn’t eating much and his weight was dropping off. Every morning at breakfast while Kurt would be putting together rides Mary already knew what she would be doing, spending the day with her Deuce. I can’t remember if Kurt shared with Mary that we would be putting Deuce down after she left or if he kept that quiet, either way it didn’t matter.

Mary was determined to spend as much time with him as she could. Mary did end up going out on a couple rides on another horse and even though he was sweet and took good care of her he wasn’t Deuce. She knew that Deuce needed her.

Mary left Sunday morning and he was scheduled to be put down on Tuesday, but little did we know he wouldn’t be. Sunday after Mary left Deuce started walking better, he quite laying down as much and he started to gain weight and eat his grain again. I don’t know what Mary did to my horse, but I do know she saved him.

Over the next two months Deuce started to heal and was able to be put out in a run by himself. He was walking good and it was only a matter of time before he was back to his old self.

Mary returned for her second visit to the ranch that fall, this time to a whole different horse. That week was similar in that Mary spent most days at the barn visiting Deuce, but it was also emotional because she knew that Deuce would be leaving the Covered Wagon. I had made a phone call in August, to Deb and Boyd in North Dakota that just happens to be a guest at the ranch too. We retire a lot of our horses to their Family Farm and I asked if they could take three more, Deuce being one of them and she agreed. So I know you are thinking he is healing why are you retiring him? Because he deserved it. That year was hard on Deuce he lost his best friend and went through a horrific injury.

On Sunday after Mary left I loaded three of my friends on the retirement trailer and wished them a happy retirement. I cried a lot that morning and most of the day. I knew the horse that had a horrific injury and had all odds against him, the horse that’s life was saved because of one lady expressed her love, the horse that showed me how tough horses really are, who’s eyes are so sincere deep and loving. That horse survived, he made it. I will miss seeing him in pasture, guests will miss him at the ranch  but I know he will enjoy every minute of Retirement!  

Today, Deuce is reunited with over ten of his friends from the Covered Wagon. He is loving retirement in North Dakota and is 100% healed and running the pasture like nothing happened. He is happy again and the happiness in his eyes have returned because of one lady, one special lady that just so happens to be celebrating her 80th Birthday next week. So, if you like this story please share it with your friends and let’s try and get 80 shares and 80 likes for one extremely special lady who saved one extremely special horse, Deuce.

Happy 80th Birthday Grandma Bling Bling!

 

 

Age Is Just A Number

October 22nd, 2017 by coveredwagonranch

Last fall I was in the office swamped in paperwork and playing catch up when I get a phone call inquiring about a stay at the ranch the following summer (2017). Her voice was sweet and calming she was witty and talked of coming to the ranch nearly 20 years ago, Will and the beautiful area. She told me she was determined to get back out to the Covered Wagon and ‘if she was still alive’ she would be here next summer. This caught me off guard, but as I mentioned she was witty so I shrugged it off and knew I would find out what her comment meant down the road.

A few minutes later I asked her if she would be celebrating anything when she would be out here and she told me “Yes, my 90th birthday!” this caught my breath….did I just hear her correctly? Her 9-0-t-h birthday? How amazing is this lady? Wanting to come back out to a ranch she visited nearly 20 years previous. And this is where I was reminded the first time that age is just a number. Rose-Mary I assume you will not be riding when you come see us? Oh no I will most definitely be riding a horse at the ranch why else would I want to visit? You know that saying when you Assume you make a%$  out of you and me? Well that certainly was the case!

Twenty minutes later we were wrapping up her reservation for the following summer stay and she said now what about the deposit? We talked about the details and she asked me a question I didn’t know how to answer…what happens to my deposit if I die? Well Rose-Mary ma’am I am not sure how I would know if you did? She chuckled and said well I guess it doesn’t matter if I am dead! And we finished up the phone call.

Months past and I hadn’t heard from her and I was so concerned that something had happened to her. I tried calling her several times and no answer or even voicemail (and she doesn’t have an email). Time passed and I just hoped for the best. About two months before her scheduled arrival my office manager asks if I had heard from her. I told her no and she continued to try and touch base with her. One random day I picked up the phone to call her with my fingers crossed she would answer and boy did I have a sigh of relief when her sweet voice came across the phone. We talked for a few minutes and she confirmed she would be coming to the ranch.

Two months later on our way home from a barrel race Kurt gets a voicemail from Jason, Rose-Mary’s son, who is in a panic, worried about his mother. Jason was checking in to see if Rose-Mary was okay and made it because she never called him. When we got home we are walking up to the fire pit at the main lodge and see a wide array of familiar faces. We were doing our rounds when there sits the sweetest lady and right then I knew it was my Rose-Mary. We sat and visited for a few minutes and other guests were mentioning her sharpness and witty comments for her age. It was dark and her cabin was a jaunt from the lodge so I walked with her. As we entered the cabin feelings I had tucked way in the back started to reappear. I sat and visited with Rose-Mary helped her unpack, doctor a wound she had, talked to her about the ranch and the plan for the week. I left her cabin and tucked my boys into bed and looked at Kurt and he knew that face. He knew I was happy. I climbed in bed that night full of joy.

The next morning Rose-Mary hadn’t came to breakfast yet. I went to check on her helped her with a few things. She was afraid that she was being more challenging than the other guests and I looked at Rose-Mary and told her I lost both my Grandmother’s and that helping her with these little things was the least I could do. And just a few minutes later Rose-Mary and Snickers went up the trail.

 

So here are a few things Rose-Mary reminded me of and hopefully she can teach you:

  1. It doesn’t matter when you decide to go on that dream vacation as long as you remember to go.
  2. Your ranch family will welcome you with arms wide open whether this is your first trip or your thirtieth. Trying to decide if you can do a trip out to the ranch by yourself? Well I assure you Rose-Mary was not my first client visiting the ranch by herself, in fact September is very popular for singles!
  3. Horses know….but they don’t care how much you know as long as they know how much you care. Snickers knew that day he was carrying precious cargo, but to him everyone that mounts his back is precious cargo.
  4. To quote Ray Hunt “It’s amazing to learn what you can learn after you’ve learned all you think there is to learn.” The day you stop learning is the day you turn your toes up. That week I learned you are never too old to do something you’ve been wanting to do……

Age Is Just A Number.

They Cook Therefore We Eat

May 26th, 2017 by coveredwagonranch

They Cook Therefore We Eat!

We are back and so excited for this summer!

Our crew has started to arrive and are eager to start the summer season! We cannot wait for you to meet all of our new crew and see our returning faces! As you all know, this ranch wouldn’t be what it is today without our four legged friends. However, we must give credit where credit is due and our Chefs sure do give us something else to look forward to! We are extremely excited and grateful to have two returning chef’s this year; Rob and Roy.

The Covered Wagon Ranch takes pride in everything we do, and we are honored to have these two Chefs at the ranch this summer to make sure everyone’s belly is full of the best homemade food around!

Rob was our breakfast and lunch chef in 2014 at the ranch and cooked in the back country for hunting camp as well! We are stoked that he will be returning as one of our Chefs this year at the ranch! Rob is known for his great food, easy going personality and if he isn’t in the kitchen he is probably down by the river fishing!

 

Roy was our Dinner Chef in 2016 and stayed  around Big Sky this winter and is back at the CWR for round two! Roy is a pretty amazing Chef with a lot of Creativity. He is originally from Southern California and has spent most of his career as a Chef in the Rocky Mountains. Unlike most Chefs, Roy enjoys nothing more than cooking over an open wood fire. Chef Roy is known at the Covered Wagon Ranch for his authentic pizza, smoked brisket, homemade pasta and our house smoked BACON! A Chefs best kept secret is their recipes, but we have convinced Roy that everyone needs a taste of some CWR favorites at home and he agreed sharing the BAT CAKE was a great idea! (Recipe below).

 

The salads at CWR are unique and D-Lish!

 

Pizza after a morning ride? You bet homemade Pizza happens here at the CWR!

 

Homemade rolled pasta…yeah that’s our style!

WARNING: Consumption will cause an urgent trip to Covered Wagon Ranch

The Bat Cake

Chocolate Truffle Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli Premium Baking Cocoa 100% Unsweetened
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup coffee
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

-Method: Bake at 350

Ganache

  • 2 cups Barry Callebaut Bittersweet Chocolate 54% (shredded)
  • 2 cups Hevay Cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Karo Dark Corn Syrup

-Method: Place all ingredients in a medium stainless steal mixing bowl. Place bowl on a medium sauce pan with 2 inches of cold water. Set to medium heat. Mix with, a heat proof spatula slowly while the mixing bowl heats up. Mix till a smooth Ganache from.

Salted Chocolate Shards

  • 2 cups Barry Callebaut Bittersweet Chocolate 54% (chunks)
  • Celtic Grey Sea Salt Medium Grain

-Method: Melt chocolate on to a parchment paper. Spread to a thin layer. Sprinkle on high over melted chocolate. Allow to cool before breaking in to shards

 

Construction: Allow cake to cool. Ganache should be warm yet not hot. Place cake onto a roasting rack in s sheet pan. Poor warm Ganache evenly around cake. Place chocolate shards along sides.

 

The Latest Happenings At CWR

February 22nd, 2017 by coveredwagonranch

The snow is still at the ranch and so I guess that means winter is still here! The holidays have come and gone and we started a New Year. The summer is nearly sold out for 2017 with just a couple holes here and there and reservations are starting for 2018 so if you want specific dates for next year I highly recommend giving us a call sooner than later.

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Horses are at winter pasture near Logan this year and we are so in love with their new pasture. There is about 82 head there on  2,500 acres. This past fall they fixed a ton of fence and had to continue to do so throughout the winter due to the elk. On numerous occasions, there has been a herd of about 200 elk hanging out. It is truly majestic and breathtaking when we go out there and see the horses in their natural environment. Kurt checks on that about every five days and brings the side by side out there. They are pretty farmerized and when they see that green side by side coming they come running knowing they are going to get grain! Big Nose Kate has her posse of yearlings and two and three year olds. They follow her like she is the mama. Unfortunately, we didn’t get her bred, but plan on trying again this year.

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Speaking of breeding we are excited that we are going to try and breed 5 mares this year, one being to jack so we can have a baby mule on the ranch next year! We have ten horses at the ranch now, our family’s personal horses, Rita, who is due to foal in April, two colts (Dollar and Dolly) and our sweet Nikita who is still trying to heal up from an injury 18 months ago. L Her mama, Ojos, got a pretty bad wire cut a few weeks ago in winter pasture and she will be coming back to the ranch from the vet in the next couple of days. So we have lots of caring to do here at the ranch too!

The most exciting news for us is the birth of Mr. Sawyer Halverson Puckett on January 29th 2017. He was 8lbs 2oz and 22 inches long. He was delivered a week early due to kidney stones via c-section. Braxton is being a great big brother and he is growing and changing every day. We are so in love and can’t wait for everyone to meet him this summer!

 

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End of the Season News!

September 26th, 2016 by coveredwagonranch

Hey y’all!

Well we have had yet another exciting season here at the Covered Wagon! We have seen many familiar faces at the ranch, as well as many new faces that are now part of our Covered Wagon family! Our staff is gearing down for the winter, and our horses will be going out to winter pasture here in the next month. septblog1

We have had the privilege of spending time with some incredible people, seen breathtaking views, and shared great stories with all of our guests and crew! Winter is a well-earned break for all of our wonderful horses, but we sure will miss our nice lunch spot views!

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All of our guests make this job and experience so worth it! We absolutely love getting to meet people from all over the country and overseas, and getting to share our little piece of heaven with you all. Getting to share our love of the beautiful Montana countryside and our horses is why we do what we do!

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Our Covered Wagon family keeps on growing, and this winter we will be welcoming baby Puckett to the family! Kurt and Melissa are expecting their second baby, due around the end of January. Braxton is going to be a big brother! Last Friday at the cookout, we had a reveal party and found out the Puckett’s are having another baby boy! We are so excited to meet our newest member of the family!

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Thank you so much for all that you wonderful guests do for us, and for being the reason we love our jobs. We couldn’t do what we do without you! We hope everyone has a fantastic fall and winter, and we can’t wait to see all of our favorite people back at the ranch next summer!

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Happy Trails,

~Samantha

 

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!! 

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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