1) Small capacity
Why it matters-Fewer guests means we can be more flexible for you. You're on vacation, right?
2) The hosts own, live and work on property
Why it matters-There's just something special about dining, dancing, riding and sharing experiences with your host. Sharing this wonderful lifestyle with you is what makes it so special to us.
3) The horseback riding is incredibly remote
Why it matters-Our property backs up to the National Forest, and there are currently no other homes that impede or even share our trails. That means you get a very remote, motor-less experience. One of our mottos is "Eat, Sleep and Be Active." It's a little more special when those things can be enjoyed in peace, away from the bustle and noise.
4) Steamboat Springs is a 25 minute drive
Why it matters-Very few people end up riding every ride of the week. If you're feeling a little sore, and don't want to read a book on your porch, soak in the hot tub or take a hike, having Steamboat Springs within a 25 minute drive is incredible. Get your shopping fix in, explore Steamboat's rich western heritage or take a Gondola ride up Steamboat Mountain.
5) The experience is adult-friendly
-Why it matters-Kids who come to Elk River Guest Ranch have an amazing time. We're set-up with the ability to offer archery, an overnight camp trip (12+) and a variety of other awesome activities that kids love. Though given our small capacity, we don't offer organized kids' programs. Thus, our focus tends to be more adult/older kids' oriented, which most folks love!
1) Groom as little as possible
Why-If the horse isn't working hard, it's important not to remove its waxy, protective coating next to the skin. That layer helps keep them warm and waterproof in the cold, wet months of winter.
2) When it gets colder, feed more
Why-The colder it gets the higher the horse's energy requirement is to maintain its body temperature. Feed more with grass hay as opposed to more grain to reduce the risk of colic.
3) Have a plan for your manure
Why-If you have several horses and each one is producing about 50lbs of manure a day, you need definitely need a plan. Determine whether you'll be collecting and then spreading your manure or whether you'll create a compost. It has to go somewhere to keep down flies and keep your horses' living area clean and healthy.
4) Monitor water supply
Why-The cold mountain weather can often get below zero at night. Whether your water comes from a spring or whether you have to fill a trough, it's important to have a constant supply of fresh, unfrozen water for your horses.
5) Check horses for condition and injuries daily
Why-Self-explanatory. Weight loss is important to catch early. Injuries need to be addressed as soon as possible.
6) Facility/barn/tack/pasture maintenance
Why-Rail and fence maintenance, tack cleaning and stall cleaning all help to keep you and your animals safe.
7) Watch your weather
Why-Colorado weather is completely unpredictable. If you feed with big hay bales, you'll want to plan ahead of a snowstorm. You'll also need to plan your plowing so the spring melt flows into the areas you want.
For more great tips and a month-by-month guide for taking care of your horses, check out Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac and blog.
Do you feed your horses with round bales? I recently bought another round, hay feeder for our horses here at Elk River Guest Ranch. But before I did so, Scott found such a good (and surprising) article about feeders that I had to share it with you.
The University of Minnesota Extension office performed a study about different types of feeders "to determine hay waste, hay intake, horse weight change and economics of nine round-bale feeders and a no-feeder control during horse feeding." According to their results, I didn't buy the feeder that resulted in the least hay waste, but I made my decision in order to balance both the hay waste and cost of the feeder.
The most interesting results from the study?
1) Not using a feeder resulted in 57% hay waste.
2) Feeders that are most restrictive resulted in less hay waste (5-11%).
3) Feeders that are circular, such as the one above that we bought, results in more hay waste than a more covered/restrictive feeder, but the designs of different circular feeders don't make much difference (13-19%).
4) Feeder design doesn't affect horse intake.
5) Not using a feeder resulted in herd weight loss (due to hay spoilage from defecation, urination and trampling of hay).
So, before you put your hay out in the pasture or pen for your horses to eat, definitely do a little research to find a cost-effective option for keeping your horses healthy. As the study demonstrated, even the feeders that wasted the most hay (almost 33%) paid for themselves within 20 months. And, the best, most restrictive feeders contributed a 2-month payback--well worth the investment!
To read the study for yourself, follow THIS LINK.
Our newest webpage, The Dining Experience, will give you a good idea of what your taste buds have to look forward to this summer. While you'll choose us for the personalized adventure, amazing scenery and horseback riding experience you may very well come back to us for the good food. Pictured below is Susan Roth, our head cook this summer. You can read more about her on The Dining Experience page, as well.
You may think I'm completely off my rocker, but as I peruse my facebook News Feed I can't help but think that at some point, we got it all wrong. The top items all morning have been recipe posts, pictures of couples kissing, pictures of flowers and chocolate and shout-outs to the love of his/her life.
But, where's the creativity in that? Heck, I can go buy myself flowers and chocolate...and, I do. Not the flowers, but the chocolate.
Fellas and ladies, if you want to do something really special, then get out there (or online) and create an experience. If you have to work on Valentine's Day, it's okay because you can create anticipation for that experience instead and follow up on it at a later date. In fact, sometimes the anticipation is one of the best parts!
An "experience" can be anything from a special walk in the park or sleigh ride to a weekend getaway or a day trip to a museum. It doesn't have to be terribly expensive and it doesn't necessarily need to take a lot of prep work. What makes the experience is you. That you want to spend time with him/her and that you value the communication and genuine face-time that it takes to make a relationship special. There's something the two of you share that feels so right, and experiences give you the time to develop that further. To continue to find things that both of you enjoy doing together.
Here at the guest ranch, I get a great, birds' eye view of couples who are doing it right. But, your weekend getaway doesn't have to be here to make your Valentine's Day special. Make your day or a future date special by investing yourself in your sweetheart, and you'll probably end up enjoying it, too.
Happy Valentine's Day from Bex, Scott, Benjamin, and Madly at the Elk River Guest Ranch!