Here in the Colorado Rockies, fall comes early, but we have been blessed with exceptionally warm days and normally cool nights, with about a 50-degree difference from the low to high temps. If we ride early, we are bundled up for the cold, but by mid-morning the layers come off. It’s obvious the horses are enjoying the cooler weather, but by morning, they are all positioning themselves for the first rays of heat from the sun.
This week, we head up to the C Lazy U Ranch, for my annual Ranch Riding Adventure clinic (one of the most popular programs I offer). It’s the perfect time of year to be in the Colorado mountains, as the trees are changing and the weather is mild. It’s the best time of year to ride in the mountains, and we do a lot of it in the four days of the clinic: four riding sessions a day (including trail obstacles and ranch riding lessons), guided trail rides, cattle sorting, plus a horsemanship clinic with me. Although this clinic stays in a perpetual state of full, it’s worth the wait to contact C Lazy U and get on the waitlist for 2022.
Our temporary resident, Remington, will finally head back to his home ranch at the C Lazy U this week, after living at my ranch as a wildfire refugee for the last 11 months.
Remi’s mother is a Clydesdale mare named Joy, purchased in the spring of 2020 as a trail horse, and unbeknownst to the ranch, was pregnant. Remi was born on October 1, 2020, an unexpected but happy surprise at the renowned guest ranch.
When wildfires threatened the ranch last fall, the remuda of 200 horses was evacuated—not once, but twice. Remi was just 3 weeks old, and not old enough to run with the herd yet, so he and Joy came to live with us.
Baby horses are meant to be born in the early spring so that they have the whole summer of good feed and warm weather to grow up before their first winter comes. October is not a good time for a horse to be born in Colorado, so we knew Remi and his mother would need some extra support.
We jumped at the opportunity to help out the ranch and to take care of Remi for the winter. It’s been so much fun to watch him grow up. By all appearances, he is a purebred Clydesdale, and some days it seemed that if he held still long enough, you could actually see him grow. He is almost 12 months old now, and he’s bigger than the average adult horse!
This is my first experience raising a draft horse baby, so maybe they are all this way, but I find this young horse to be exceptionally brave and willing. He’s always happy to see us, and will run across the pasture to greet you. He thinks of people as his “entertainment committee,” and is always eager to go on an adventure with us.
Exercises to improve riding skills
Cantering—everything from how to ride the canter to flying lead changes.
For the more advanced rider, advanced use of the aids, collection & lateral movements
I’m not a big fan of over-handling young horses, but knowing how big he would get, we made sure to give him the halter training he needed, and to teach him some basic manners like leading, standing, tying, feet handling, standing for fly spray, etc. Since he hadn’t been in a horse trailer since the fire evacuations, we thought we would reintroduce him before the trip home this week. Like a mature and brave horse, he stepped right up and happily gulped down the tasty grain he found inside. Trailering is apparently not a problem!
Once he is back at the ranch, he will get acquainted with a few of the younger draft horses there, and stay in a pen with them for a few weeks so that they can form a bond. Eventually, alongside his new homies, he will be turned out with the herd of 200 horses.
The entire herd is kept on a huge mountain meadow at night, and they come into the corrals at the ranch headquarters each morning, where the horses are caught and saddled for trail riding. At the end of the day, the herd runs back out to pasture to graze, socialize, and rest. Out in the meadow, they split up into smaller factions for the night before they gather up again in the morning to head back to the corrals.
It’s unlikely Remi will hook up with his mom again since she has likely forgotten him and found her own bonds. Instead, he will hang with the boys and learn to make his own way in the herd. Of course, the wranglers will keep a close eye on him to make sure. In a year or two, he will begin his saddle training and start learning the trails, first as a guide’s horse, and eventually becoming a guest horse.
It’s sure been fun to have a youngster in the barn, watch him grow and learn, and play a part in shaping his future. He’s handsome and regal, not to mention a giant yearling. I’m going to miss seeing our own personal version of a Budweiser commercial running across our fields each day, but I look forward to seeing him settled back at his home ranch and watching him grow up to be a legendary horse there.