Archive for the ‘Our Covered Wagon Guests’ Category

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.

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

 

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

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

February 4th, 2016 by coveredwagonranch

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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.  

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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.

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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!

Happy Spring!

March 27th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”!

Montana Dude Ranches….A Generation of Experiences

February 14th, 2012 by Debi Naccarto

A Family Vacation At A Dude Ranch

 The Dude Rancher’s Association is a wonderful organization that preserves this special way of life and the wonderful environment in which dude ranching takes place.  “Horses, Hats, Hospitality, Heritage, Honesty and Heart” are the core principles of dude ranching. Here at the Covered Wagon Ranch we have the honor of following a family that has been visiting our ranch for several generations, and here is their story…..

Well before our (JT and Debi’s) time, this family from Minnesota has been coming to the ranch. I don’t know how many years in total that Judith and Ken have been visiting us, but I know it goes back there! I can always rely on Judith to tell me a story or two about the ranch from way back when. I love those stories and it helps us continue to get a better understanding of the history of the ranch. As time went on, family members continued to add to the family vacation. Eventually, Mia, Madeline, John and Olivia all started showing up on this annual tradition.  Our story will start pre-Olivia.More time passes and next thing you know, Olivia starts to enter the picture.

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The Dream Team At Our Montana Dude Ranch

December 26th, 2010 by Debi Naccarto

It was love at first sight. When Cordy visited us from Switzerland this year (and Erna too!!) we were really excited to have visitors from this country, although they will tell you I kept saying they were from Sweden. At least both countries started with “Sw…”! They took full advantage of all the ranch had to offer, including a Backcountry Pack Trip right from our Montana Dude Ranch, and tons of horseback riding. It was a perfect Montana Dude Ranch Vacation including trips into Yellowstone National Park.

Cordy did not ride Annie (the mare, not the mule) for most of her stay. Towards the end she wanted to try a horse that was better suited for a more advanced rider. She (Cordy) is quite a cowgirl. She even has her own Western Store in Switzerland called “Western Store” (www.westernstore.ch). So the last few days of her trip she decided to ride Annie and just loved her. And Annie loved her as well!

Cordy heads back home. The ranch finished out its season. Then next thing you know I get an email from Cordy that she wants to buy Annie and send her back to Switzerland! I have never done anything like this before and basically didn’t think it was possible. I (unintentionally) put just about every obstacle I could think of in front of Cordy, but she is quite a goal oriented, determined woman. Much like Annie! She worked on all the details that were necessary to have her transported overseas. This was quite an exciting process for me to observe (I have to say observe and not participate. She did all the incredible legwork).

The time was drawing near. Her first attempt failed because Switzerland has a quota on how many horses they can ship into the country during the period of a year. They were full for 2010, so she had to wait until 2011. Then there’s the quarantine period, health checks, vaccinations, transporters, etc. that have to be arranged. But she charged forward and pulled this all together.

Once I could see this was really going to happen, we had Boone haul Annie back to Bozeman to go through her health checks and vaccinations.

She was pretty furry this time of year, as Montana has had some pretty cold weather for extended periods of time. The next difficult step was coordinating all her health requirements and getting the vet out here. Sometimes he’s just pretty busy and hard to find. You never know where he is!

It was all coming together pretty quickly now. Brand inspections, health certificates, vaccinations, etc were all being put together (might I add that JT was in Eastern Montana goose hunting during this time period??) (did I also mention that it was sooo close to Christmas??).

So here is what Cordy had put together. First, there was a hauler from Twin Bridges, Montana that picked Annie up at my house. He actually had another horse in his trailer (an Arabian) that was going to Kuwait! He was driving them both to Utah.

From there, they were hauled to Oklahoma, to this amazing company called Nedpoint Quarter Horses (www.nedpoint.com). Here they quarantine the horses for thirty days, then transport them, via plane, to Amsterdam. From that point they are hauled to where-ever else they go. Nedpoint was really fun to work with. Watch their video!

So Annie was loaded up on the trailer and headed to Utah. Some pretty significant snow storms delayed the trip to Oklahoma, but in a few days she was on her way again. She is now stalled at Nedpoint, waiting for her trip to Amsterdam on January 21! Good luck Annie! What an adventure. And thank you, Cordy, for taking such good care of her. It’s a rare occasion that a Covered Wagon Ranch horse gets sold. But when you know it’s the best thing for both parties, you can’t stand in their way. I’ll keep you posted when we hear she made it safe and sound to Switzerland!

Cowgirls Only Week on a Montana Dude Ranch!

September 26th, 2009 by Debi Naccarto

Cowgirls!!

Cowgirls!!

What a great group of women! The week is over and the ranch is in the process of closing down. But it went out with a bang! The last week of our Montana Guest Ranch season was filled with Crazy Women Riders (yes, Dawn, I’ve stolen your caption!!). The weather was beautiful, the rides were long, and the fun was filled with laughter all week. Our first Annual Cowgirls Only Week was a huge success. Our Montana Dude Horses will never be the same!!

And as the season ends I return to my desk for the winter, although it is supposed to be 88 degrees here in Bozeman today, with a forecast for SNOW on Wednesday. Only in Montana LOL. More later…………..debi

The DeVore Family

September 6th, 2009 by Debi Naccarto

olddevore

Isn’t history wonderful? We are so grateful to the DeVore family, and especially Jennifer DeVore, for providing us some photographs of the ranch that started back in the 30’s! The DeVore family had been coming to the ranch for generations since the 1930’s. Here is a photo Jen provided that was taken at Cameron Springs (near the draw) . It’s a picture of Charles and Emma Cameron with grandchildren (including Cameron DeVore-Jen’s father).

From Jennifer’s Notes:

“I know that my father’s grandfather and great-uncles – Charles Cameron and Perry and Zade Morgan (brothers of Charles’s wife) had a cabin at Cameron Springs.  They all lived in Bozeman, families there since around 1870s or so.  The cabin burned down sometime in the 40s (???) and that’s when my dad’s family started coming to what they called Benson’s.  my dad still has Morgan cousins who live in Bozeman and there are DeVores in Helena but most of the family moved away from Montana but kept coming to the Gallatin to stay at the CWR pretty much every year.  My own family started coming in the 70s when Vic Benson was there (I think my dad called him Benny).  There was a great guy named John Haynes (? ) who used to come and sing camp songs around the fire.”

Sadly, Jennifer’s father, Cameron DeVore, passed away this year, but Jen said the family is going to try and arrange a family reunion this year at the ranch. I think they would be pleased to see how well we have taken care of this ranch. Jen is going to forward an old Cowboy songbook she found, which was put together by her uncle, Charles DeVore (who also sadly passed away several years ago). Charles put the songbook together specifically for the Covered Wagon Ranch, and sure to be used around the campfire next summer!

Here’s some more photos Jennifer provided to us. It’s the ranch in the 1940’s. Jeremy thinks one of the horses there is “JOSEPH” hahahahaha

covered wagon 1940s

Who’s the first guest for a Montana Dude Ranch Vacation?

May 31st, 2009 by Debi Naccarto

mama-baby1Well, the weather is fabulous. The crew is working hard. And the wranglers are riding and clearing the trails getting ready for you. As they went out for a ride, Lee and Val spotted our first guests right on the ranch! Can you see the baby? They’re living right at ranch by the corrals!

Meanwhile, what do a couple of cowgirls wear when they work at a Montana Guest Ranch?? Well, Erin and Katie thought it was time to support the local economy and see what they could find before they ride a couple of Montana Dude Horses! We love you guys, and all your FABULOUSNESS!!

crew-going-shopping

A Working Ranch

August 31st, 2007 by Debi Naccarto

When you are a guest for the first time here at the Covered Wagon Ranch, we do our best to treat you like royalty.

After that, you are no longer a guest but a friend. And friends help each other out. So we put you to work and you’re lucky if you get so much as a door opened for you.

For example, early this year, we needed some flowers planted. So we put Judith, a long time friend of the Covered Wagon, right on it.

She and her husband, Ken, did a wonderful job, and the flowers still look amazing. I took these pictures just half an hour ago.
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They are on the porch of the lodge, on the patio and on the porches of all the cabins. They are gorgeous.

Thank you Judith and Ken. We love you!
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