On the near horizon I plan to write a novel set on a dude ranch of sorts. Naturally, I needed to investigate. What is a modern dude ranch like?
This June I took my eldest granddaughter for an overnight at the M Lazy C dude ranch near Lake George, Colorado. This outing was a definite success.
We roughed it in a rustic log cabin with modern amenities like a microwave and mini-fridge, but no indoor plumbing. Although the bathroom was down a boardwalk, it was thoroughly modern. (Other cabins have their own bathrooms, and I would likely opt for that next time.) We lounged around, playing Foosball in the community room, watching the longhorn steers, and reading.
My granddaughter befriended a barn cat that then followed her around demanding attention.
Up early the next morning, we had breakfast at the chuck wagon. A nice buffet-style breakfast was served on picnic tables covered with red checkered tablecloths.
Next, we headed to the corral. We had booked a half day horseback ride in the National Forest. The two young women wranglers made sure everyone was matched to a horse corresponding to their riding level. A family of four had an experienced rider, a never-rode-before rider, and two intermediates. My granddaughter has taken riding lessons for several years. She rode Gunther, while I requested an easy horse, and got Domino.
Warned that my horse was a biter, I stayed to the back of the line of seven horses, followed by a wrangler. Other than keeping Domino away from the temptation to nip other horses' backsides, he was a gentle animal with an easy to sit trot. (I am listening to Sue Grafton's A is for series. Her main character Kinsey was a biter as a child, so I found Domino's issue amusing.)
We enjoyed views of snow-capped Pikes Peak and fields of wild flowers. The family from back east was delighted to watch one of our wranglers herd cows away from a gate. Stopping at a trough, the horses got a drink. Our lunch break was taken near a mound of rocks as tall as the pine trees. M Lazy C provided nice box lunches, and did their best to accommodate special diets.
We returned to the corral, with Domino doing an anxious but slow trot most of the way. Unlike some rental horses, these animals were obviously well cared for, well-mannered, and friendly. I tipped the wranglers, thanking them for a great experience.
As we drove across the ranch, heading home, my granddaughter asked when we would be back. Soon, I hope. Sure, it was a little on the rustic side, and I thought I'd need a crane to get me off my horse after the half day ride, but it was a genuine Colorado ranch experience. Who knew research could be so much fun?
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