What goes on at an Idaho guest ranch in the spring? Western Pleasure Guest Ranch is open year round, with activities changing to reflect the seasons here in North Idaho. So what does happen around here in the spring? In the months of March and April, when the North Idaho landscape is waking up from from its winter rest, fewer travelers venture up, over, or down to the Panhandle of Idaho. We do have weekend travelers who explore the foothills and valley’s, enjoy the spring skiing at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, or just relax in a cozy cabin here on the ranch. Retreats are also a popular event here with quilters, basket weavers and personal growth gatherings.
Although there may still be some snow (or mud) on the ground, the barn is busy with activity. Our saddle horses get a little vacation during the winter months, so as spring riding approaches, we begin to prepare the horses for work again. Getting the horses ready for our guests to come enjoy scenic horseback rides means preparing the horses both physically and mentally for their job. They must be in excellent physical condition to carry our guests 10-14 miles per day throughout the horseback riding season. We prepare our herd mentally by reviewing their foundational training in the arena and on the trail. All of our horses begin their life at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch by going through our training program, where they learn how to be soft, responsive and quiet mounts. Taking the time and energy to work each horse through this program creates a horse that is safe and gentle enough for a beginner rider, and soft and athletic enough for an advanced rider to enjoy. It is in the spring months that we are able to put focused attention on these young trainees. Our two year olds are started under saddle and ridden for 30 days then put out to pasture to grow and mature. As 3 and 4 year olds, they are given focused foundational training in the spring months, then ridden by wranglers throughout the summer as they guide guests on horseback rides. As 5 years olds, they will again go through spring training and then begin their first year of being a mount for our guests to ride.
Building projects that we have either been dreaming about or dreading are are worked on this time of the year. Spring in North Idaho also gives us a chance to do some spring cleaning around the ranch and prepare the grounds for the many events, activities and travelers that will be at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch throughout the year. Of course, when talking about spring maintenance on a ranch, you can’t forget about the many miles of fences that have to be checked and fixed before the horses and cattle can go out on pasture. Horseback riding trails have to be cleared of winter tree falls and new trails are cut in to expand trail options for horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. This year we are also preparing for 5 of our mares to foal out. The expected due dates for theses 5 mares are spread out throughout the spring and summer but the first two are due in less than a month so preparations are being made for those joyful arrivals.
The early spring months could be considered our “down time” here at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, but everyone is busy with activities to prepare our horses, our grounds, and our lodging facilities for the folks that will be visiting us in the coming months.