For roughly fifteen years we have pastured our horses in the Creston area of the Flathead Valley. We have been lucky enough to have Bob Borgan, a retired county welder and diesel mechanic watch after our stock while in his fields. Bob, retired for 10 years this summer from his county post, has run his families farm operation dating back almost 40 years, much of which was done in the evenings or on weekends. Today, Bob and his wife Louanne, a retired school teacher, enjoy their time growing hay during the summer months, (this is the hay we feed at the ranch) and during the winter and spring months watching over the horses everyone enjoys throughout the summer. Bob and Louanne have a few of their favorites in the herd like many of our guests. “Bob,” our big buckskin is Bob’s favorite horse as he once was owned by Bob and called “Buck”. Louanne on the other hand favors the miniatures, Melvin, Ron, Calamity and Jethro. She spends many mornings feeding them treats and sitting in a small pen petting them. This spring Bob was ecstatic when Laine found a team of Mules to add to the lodge herd. A self-proclaimed mule guy, Bob has found two new favorites, Rose and Violet.
Perhaps you are wondering why we don’t keep the herd on lodge property year around? The main reason being that our number one priority is to sustain a healthy and well-maintained herd of horses for our guests. As our season slows down towards the end of October, we begin to pull shoes and take the horses up to “The Hill” where most of our trail rides go. Our entire property line is fenced for pasturing the horses, however when we put upward of 100 animals on our mountainous property the grass does not last very long. When it comes time to start feeding hay as the snow falls and the grasses wilt, it is much easier and safer terrain out at Bob’s farm. Wintering the horses in a 20-acre pasture with trees for shelter, a heated water tank and fresh chopped hay everyday, our horses live the life in the winter.
That is until spring hoof trimming comes along. During operating season we shoe our horses on a 6-8 week schedule to keep them balanced and prevent soreness. During the winter we go a little longer between calling the farrier as the shoes are pulled and the horses naturally wear down their hooves. Sometime during mid February to early March, we will catch all the horses at Bob’s and trim their hooves.
Spring has now sprung on us here at the ranch and Elizabeth and Garrett have returned for yet another season. This season these two southern characters are going to divide up the barn duties and look to expand on our offerings. This summer we look to take advantage of our expanding lesson program as well as some new trail ride options. The details will have to be kept under wraps and be a surprise when you arrive!
Spring projects are in full force right now as the fencing maze around the barn and pastures have changed their look a bit. The pastures behind the barn have finally received their rightful split rail wood fencing to match, while the fence running along the pond road has been replaced after 20 years in use. It didn’t stop there as the alley leading to the feed lot is all new wood fence as well and while we were at it, we just tackled restructuring the pastures with some new metal and wire fencing that should last for many generations of lodge horses to come!
A month or so ago, we found some new friends for the herd, Violet and Rose. They are our new sorrel Molly Mules. Drive, ride, or pack them and they are happy to serve. With the most genuine personalities in a four-legged friend, these two mules love their ears and chins scratched. In fact, do it long enough and they might just cave to using your shoulder as a headrest, don’t mind their heads they are rather large.
Last but surely not least. This season we are proud to finally serve the public a little more. We will be offering three different length daily trail rides, 1 hour, 2 hour and a 3 hour ride that will make it into our elk preserve. The shorter rides will experience our Overlook of Flathead Lake as well as some other familiar terrain to our guests. This program will run June through September and is structured to co-exist with the lodge barn riding program. With the rides limited to a max of 10-14 and leaving from our Cliff House Stable, we look forward to this new endeavor.