Archive for the ‘Montana Horseback Riding’ Category

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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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

 

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.

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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

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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 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!

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!

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!

Why Choose CWR: A Personal Experience

February 28th, 2015 by coveredwagonranch

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!

Horseback Riding in Montana and How We Love Our Horses!

February 7th, 2012 by Debi Naccarto

Mia and Oliva Giving A Treat

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

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

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

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

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

Feeling The Love At The Dude Ranch In Montana

 

Fun Times At A Montana Dude Ranch

March 3rd, 2011 by Debi Naccarto

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

Life At The Corrals

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

My Favorite Horseback Riding Picture

Horseback Riding At A Montana Dude Ranch

February 16th, 2011 by Debi Naccarto

A Dude Horse Perspective of Viewing Wildlife Near Yellowstone National Park

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

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

Catching a glimpse of Bullwinkle

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

Wolf At The Trailhead

 

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

A Grizzly Bear Cub Near Yellowstone National Park

 

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

A Happy Horse At The End Of The Day

TOP TEN CWR DUDE HORSES FOR 2010

January 27th, 2011 by Debi Naccarto

TOP TEN MONTANA DUDE HORSES FOR THE YEAR 2010

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       total of 43.

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

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

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

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

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

       rides.

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

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

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

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

       total of 46.

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

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

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

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

       He provided 48 wrangler rides out of 96 possible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       ride for a total of 51.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       possible 96 days.

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

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!

The Story Of “Roxie” – A Real Montana Dude Horse

May 7th, 2010 by Debi Naccarto

“Roxie” came to us as a surprise one very cold January morning, with temperatures hovering around 40 below zero. Yes-you heard me right! Her Mom was “Honey”-a draft cross horse. We purchased Honey the summer before. We thought she looked kind of fat but Honey was a big horse to begin with. Needless to say, after the season was through, the horses were put back up on winter pasture at Raspberry Butte Ranch in Big Timber. Kurt had been traveling up to Raspberry Butte on a routine basis to check on the horses, when one day in January he called to tell us there was a foal in our pasture. Well, those of us who know Kurt know he’s a prankster at heart, so I didn’t take much credence to his call. Besides, we did not breed any horses that year, and horses are usually bred to foal out from May on, due to the cold weather. Finally, I realized this was no joke, and he trailered the mare and foal back to our house in Bozeman.

She was a wreck.

She was covered in bite marks all over her body. When you ran your hand across her body it was covered with scabs everywhere. Her ear was bit off and suffered from frostbite. And all four hooves were separated from the coronet bands. The vet thought maybe it was from frostbite or infection.

The horses and mules didn’t take very well to having a foal around. As wonderful as these animals are, they get very competitive when there’s a new kid in town. The cool thing about this experience is that the mules actually circled Honey and Roxie and protected them from the rest of the herd. Too bad they didn’t start that a little earlier.

Roxie had a long course of treatments and TLC back at Love Lane, and we’re proud to say that she is now 3 years old and doing great. She’s had some minimal training and riding and passed her lessons with flying colors. She has an incredible disposition and is one of the friendliest, most respectful horses I know. If you walk down the driveway, she’ll run up to the fence and walk alongside you like a puppy dog!!

Roxie will be joining the string this summer and work her way into the herd as a Montana dude horse for the ranch. I know she’ll be one of our best in a short period of time!

A Happy Ending on Love Lane!

Montana Dude Horse Of The Year-A Tie!

March 12th, 2010 by Debi Naccarto

Horse of the Year 2009

 The Covered Wagon Ranch is proud to announce that we had two horses tie for Horse of the Year in 2009, Joseph and Deuce.  These two stars of the Montana Dude Ranch industry both provided excellent and flawless service on 47 days of the possible 95 work days of their season.  Please come and visit the Covered Wagon Ranch this summer, and when you do, tip your hat to these great Montana dude horses.

 

JOSEPH

Joseph is the patriarch of the Covered Wagon Ranch.  A true gentleman of 25 years, he has lived on the ranch (according to our records) for over 20 years.  His specialty is the younger, less experienced rider; but this year (because of his good size and wonderful temperament) he helped several adult riders enjoy their stay as well.

 

DEUCE

Deuce has been a favorite on the ranch since JT and Debi purchased him 3 years ago as a ranch trained gelding.  Currently 13 years young,  he gave many of our intermediate (and higher) level riders a great experience through the course of the summer.  His gentle and steady personality leads us to take him for granted sometimes, but this is the second year in a row in which he has been the star of our herd at the end of the season.

Please give a round of applause for these very hard working employees and trusted steed!

Enjoying the Wildflowers at a Montana Dude Ranch

March 4th, 2010 by Debi Naccarto

There is nothing quite as spectacular as the wildflowers in Montana, especially when you get the chance to ride a Montana Dude Horse and get up into the back country of our beautiful state. The view you see here was taken by J.T. while taking a ride to Upper Tepee Basin-one of our campsites that we either ride to or take horse pack trips for our guests.  Montana has a rich flora which belongs to several different ecosystems. The wildflowers make up one of the largest groups of the species. The wide variety of wildflowers found here is because the state covers areas belonging to the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest humid areas and Intermountain areas in between. Western Montana, where our ranch is located, is mountainous and has many lakes, streams and meadows.

There are so many varieties of wildflowers that we see on our rides and our hikes. Some of the plants you will see include Glacier Lillies, Dwarf Larkspur, Pretty Shootingstar, Moss Phlox, Fairyslippers, Arrow-leaved balsamroot, Indian Paintbrush and Sticky Purple Geranium to name a few. The list goes on forever.

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

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

 Or just enjoy the flowers as you walk around the barns and the rest of the ranch.

But whatever you do, or wherever you are, at our ranch, riding our horses or hiking and fishing in our spectacular country, make sure you always take time to smell the flowers!  (Many thanks to Ted L. for the photos)

All About Montana Dude Horses at the Covered Wagon Ranch

February 27th, 2010 by Debi Naccarto

I thought I would take a little time and go over some fun facts about our horses at the ranch, as well as horses in general. We all love horseback riding in Montana, and even if we don’t ride at our Montana Dude Ranch we still love the animal. I just love watching their behaviour, don’t you? So I thought I would take a few minutes and just share some insights to bring a smile to your face!

First, we all wonder if horses, and animals, can really talk. Well here’s a little clip I watched the other from Saint and Alfie “chumming it” in the pasture:

Every time I watch this, all I can think is that they’re goofing around and then decide to tell each other it’s time to go run around the pasture for a while, and then they take off!

I also love to just watch the animal run. One of my favorite times is when the wranglers run the horses down the mountain Monday mornings and move them into the corrals-ready for work!

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

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

Ode To Honey-Our Montana Dude Horse

December 1st, 2009 by Debi Naccarto

In our dude ranch business, our horses are literally worth their weight in gold. They get ridden by all types of riders, including inexperienced riders wo are pulling, poking, flopping, and generally trying every way possible to get themselves hurt, mostly because they have never been to a Montana Dude Ranch before or taken a horseback ride.  Yet, these honest amazing horses take excellent care of them. Eventually it becomes time to say goodbye to these great horses. This is a poem I read in the Big Timber Pioneer and applied it to Honey, whom we lost this year. But it just doesn’t apply to Honey. We all know and love Joe, Louis, Joker, Whiskey Jack to name a few and are doing just fine, and of course, Zach, whom we lost a year ago. These horses are those that guests could faint on. Literally bombproof. We call them “dude horses“, something cowboys often discredit like day-old chew, but “dude horses” are the unsung heroes of the equine world. They work hard day in and day out for a living, and they epitomize the heart and soul of goodness. This poem is a tribute to our horses out there carrying precious cargo up and down the trail every day.

“ODE TO MAX”

“It was the best two hundred dollars I ever spent, Brett said-
On the day we found out that at the trail head Max lay dead.
This two hundred dollar horse had definitely earned his keep
We all prayed to God that he passed on while in blissful sleep.
No purebred Quarter Horse, thoroughbred, nor paint was he
He was of mixed blood with no fancy papers nor pedigree.
He had never dragged a calf to a branding fire nor ran on a track.
But many a precious load he had hauled into the wild and back.
He was honest and kind and never even shied that I ever saw.
The greenest rider or the smallest child would be Max’s draw.
He hauled guests for a living up and down the wilderness trail.
He never moved a muscle when a client fainted over his tail.
He endured being bridled and cinched by well-intentioned rookies
Who offered him a reward of carrots, apples, and Oreo cookies.
Hauling overweight off balanced clients could drive a horse insane.
But even if Max could have spoken, he would never complain.
He hauled dudes and dudettes of every shape and size.
and they all fell in love with his thick mane and brown eyes.
He crossed many hills, mountains, and streams,
Helped fufill lots of hunter’s elk shooting dreams.
It’s hard to find a horse as honest as Max.
All the rider did was sit up there and relax.
So here’s to Max and the great dude horses who have gone before…
The trusty steeds who went to pasture but live in our hearts evermore.”

Thank you.

 

 

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Why Dude Ranch Vacations?

November 25th, 2009 by Debi Naccarto

It’s a valid question, I suppose. After all, we are all allotted only so much vacation time in our lives, so why choose to spend some of it on a Dude Ranch Vacation?

Irresistable horse riding vacation

Irresistable horse riding vacation

Those of us who spend part or all of each year working at a Guest Ranch know that there is nothing like it in the world; a bond forms among the crew; a unique relationship exists between the horses and those who work with them; a special rapport develops between the guests and staff.

Many of our guests return to our Guest Ranch year after year because they hunger for time in the wilderness – craving impossibly fresh air and dazzling skies. They need to stand thigh-deep in river waters with a fly rod in had. And they learn something about themselves and the world around them when they mount a horse day after day; I’ve heard it said that you may be able to hide from yourself, but you can’t hide the real you from a horse. I think it’s true.

A Horse Riding Vacation that leads you into Yellowstone National Park, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, and the Gallatin and Madison Mountains leads you back in time. The pace is slower – travel takes time. It’s quieter. Your cell phone can’t find you here.

Finally, there is the land.  The incredibly beautiful land.

Isn’t that reason enough for Dude Ranch Vacations?

CRAZY WOMEN RIDERS (aka CWR)

November 8th, 2009 by Debi Naccarto

And these women are DEFINITELY Crazy Women Riders!! We have Dawn and Linda seated in the front and Murph and Diane standing in the back row. These women were very creative and came up with the CWR nickname (I wish I had thought of that!!) and it only took me about an hour to realize that the Crazy Women Riders name was a spin off CWR. Duh. That week was so much fun and tons of riding. Jeremy and company took us out to see if we could hear the elk bugle, and on one particular day we had the thrill of a lifetime when he called in two huge bulls within 40 yards of where we were! A day that none of us will ever forget. And thanks to Janine for taking the picture of the bull via the belly of Spade as he was tied up to the tree!

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How much fun is that??!! Cowgirl Week was such a huge success that we plan to have it every year during the last week of our season. This upcoming year we will have it from September 12-19, so Cowgirls, get your hats on and load up on Tim’s Fabulous Cookies! As you can see, Mary (on the right) our Honorary CWR Family Member, and Janine (on the left) the fabulous photo taker of the elk, are enjoying their snacks. ta ta folks!

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