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Colorado Corral Ranch Race & Western Dressage – Clinic & Competition September 14 & 15 2013

Just two months away is the Colorado Corral Ranch Race at the Evergreen Rodeo Grounds!  Anyone is welcome to participate and/or spectate.  There are divisions for all ages and levels of riders and horses including Lead-line, Youth 8-10, 12-14 and 15-18; Green as Grass, Green Horse, Amateur, Open and a Jackpot.  Email me at heather@mtnhomes4horses.com for a registration form.

What is the Ranch Race you ask?  The Ranch Race is a fun course of 10-15 obstacles, similar to a trail course, but with more of a ranch twist including cattle.  Fun and safety are of the utmost importance.  Time is recorded and used mostly to keep the participants moving, but good horsemanship is rewarded every time.  An experienced, professional judge scores each obstacle to determine the placings in each division.

Running concurrently with the Ranch Race for the first time is a Western Dressage Ride-A-Test schooling show.  Similar to a traditional Dressage Ride-A Test, participants will be assigned a ride time, ride their test, receive the scored test and have 10-15 minutes of ride time with the judge (USDF certified judge).  Essentially a mini-clinic – with ribbons and awards!   Just go to the http://www.westerndressageassociation.org/western-dressage-rules-tests/, look through the tests and decide which one you want to be judged on.

While the Ranch Race and Western Dressage Ride-A-Test take place on Sunday September 15th, there will be a clinic on Saturday the 14th for both events taught by two of our gifted local trainers.

Tucker Black – see www.TuckerBlackHorsemanship.com, will be giving the Ranch Race obstacle clinic.  This is a perfect chance for any riders to learn and get their horses used to the obstacles that will be in the Ranch Race the next day.

Kelly Hendricks- see www.KellysHorsinAround.com, participated in the Train The Trainers ™ put on by the Western Dressage Association to teach riding instructors the essence of Western Dressage and she will be instructing the Western Dressage Clinic on Saturday.

While some riders will choose to participate in all four events (i.e. Ranch Race Clinic and/or show; Western Dressage Clinic and/or Ride-A-Test), anyone is welcome to participate in how ever many of the parts that they wish to.

To see slide shows of past Ranch Race’s, go to the MtnHomes4Horses YouTube channel.  If you are new to Western Dressage, there is also a blog post on the www.MtnHomes4Horses.com website bearing the same name.

The cost is $50 for the Ranch Race and Clinic, $30 for the Western Dressage Clinic and Ride-A Test.  Entries open August 15th and close September 9th.    Further discounts if you volunteer during the clinic and/or competition.  See the Events calendar on the website for information and email me at mtnhomes4horses@gmail.com for a registration form.  Always feel free to call me with any questions! 303-638-0994.  I look forward to seeing you there for this weekend of fun and festivities!  If you are interested in sponsoring awards, cattle, insurance, judging, etc, just let me know!  Mark your calendars for the Intermountain Horse Association Poker Ride September 7th, www.IntermountainHorse.com.  Heather McWilliams © 2013.


Wildfire Large Animal Evacuation

As with every incident, the recent Lower North Fork Fire has resulted in continuing to improve our protocol for large and small animal evacuation in our area due to wildfires.  Jefferson County Animal Control, Jefferson County Horse Council and Jeffco HEAT (Horse Evacuation and Assistance Team) all continue to work together to learn from each wildfire to improve their methods for what we all hope won’t happen again.  While it is still early, these local groups are putting together updated literature that will be available to the public in the near future.

With the help of Jeffco HEAT, Jefferson County Animal Control and Jefferson County Horse Council, the following is meant to give you some tips if your horse or other large animal needs to be or has been evacuated; including some rumors put to rest.  Keep in mind that these services are provided at no charge, by volunteers.  Be generous to these organizations in regular contributions and especially when your animals have benefited from their help.  The trucks and trailers in particular are owned, fueled and maintained by the individual Jeffco HEAT members.  These people care about your animals and that is why they are a part of this effort!  During a wildfire, time is precious; please look over the following information and pass along to others in order to help with the process.


  • Jefferson County  303-271-5070
  • Park County 719-836-4380
  • Clear Creek County 303-679-2376


  • It is essential that horses be able to lead and load in different trailers.
  • Other people should be able to load your horse.

WHAT EVACUATOR’S NEED FROM OWNERS – this information is crucial to the people evacuating (i.e. if they show up with a small trailer and you have a draft horse, precious time is lost):

  • Size (breed, age) and number of animals.
  • Have halters and leads in plain view.
  • Keep copies of proof of ownership in a safe place other than your home or barn.
  • Loading Order (i.e. Bay goes in first).
  • Property access – large or small trailer maneuverability, access to horses, turn-around.
  • Owner present for evacuation:  HEAT will document your drivers license and paperwork for each individual animal.
  • Claiming animal:  Bring with you Livestock (Brand) Inspection Papers or Drivers License for proof of address (if you were present at evacuation).  In some cases, pictures of you with your animal will work.


  • All animals go to Jeffco Fairgrounds unless otherwise stated.
  • Animal ID at holding facility:  All animals have a numbered tag that acts as a tracking number until they are released to owner.
  • Microchipping and Livestock (Brand) Inspection is the best form of ownership.
  • Visitation hours are between 8am and 7pm – owners are allowed to exercise, ride, groom, etc.
  • Owners can feed their animals, but are asked to do so at the feeding times of 8am and 5pm for the happiness of the other animals.
  • Jefferson County Animal Control is ultimately in charge of the animals.
  • Animals at holding facility are considered impounded; therefore the owner does not need to be contacted if the animal needs medical attention.
  • Once the animals are released to their owner, if they have no other way to get them back to where they were picked up, Jeffco HEAT is available to haul them (no cost, but DONATIONS ACCEPTED!).


  • There is NO CHARGE to haul or keep your horses.
  • Animals are watched over 24 hours a day at holding facility.
  • Animals are fed grass hay and water, unless otherwise prescribed by veterinarian.
  • Veterinarian must give medications.
  • The light is always on – Animals always accepted!
  • Animals can be released to owner or owners agent at anytime.

Thank you to Ingrid Spikker and the rest of the Jeffco HEAT, Barb Suggs of the Jefferson County Horse Council and Carla Zinanti from Jefferson County Animal Control.  Heather McWilliams MtnHomes4Horses.com 2013 Copyright.

Back In The Saddle with Stephanie Bell – Coming Back to Riding

There seems to be a trend lately and it is that people who grew up riding are getting back into horses.  A few of these people are all connected to one of our local trainers, Stephanie Bell.  Stephanie has some great thoughts for people getting back into riding and states that one of the great things about riding is that you can always come back to it, no matter how long it has been, even in your retirement years.  Each section has tips for riders coming back after years out of the saddle as well as just a few months.

Lessons and Trainers – Years off:  Review the basics with a trainer.  When looking for a trainer, do some research.  Talk to other horse people you know, look for directories like NewHorse.com that sorts trainers by discipline and area, go observe trainers giving lessons to see if they suit your learning style, take lessons from a couple different trainers and ultimately, find someone you trust.

Months off:  Stephanie suggests setting some goals for the new season. These can be anything from riding a certain number of times a week, moving up a division at the horse show, or improving your sitting trot. Depending on your goals, it may be productive to take some lessons and share your specific goals with your instructor.  They can give you feedback on a realistic timeline and plan.  Even if you have your own horse, it might even be a good idea to take a lesson or two on a school horse.  For example, if you are hoping to learn a new movement, it may be helpful to ride a horse that already knows how to do the maneuver and get the feel for it.  Also, ask your instructor for “homework” to practice in between lessons and recreate some of the exercises you felt good about. If you are taking lessons, both private and small group lessons are valuable.  The private lessons allow you to focus on issues specific to you and your horse while the group lessons give you the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes.  Taking a video of you riding can be very helpful.  Sometimes in riding things will feel very different than they look.

Horses! – Years off:  Initially, school horse lessons are a good place to start.  You can get your feet wet again without a big commitment and you get to try different horses.  If you had been a more experienced rider in the past, it may not take long for you to outgrow school horses.  Leasing or a partial lease on a horse is a good next step.  Leasing is a good way to experience some of the benefits of horse ownership without as much of a financial and time commitment.  Eventually, you may decide to buy your own horse.  When you are looking to either lease or buy it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a trainer – they can help search for, evaluate, and negotiate prices for horses.  They are also great resources for getting you connected with a vet, farrier, etc.  Also remember that if you hire a trainer to help you find the right horse, they have a vested interest in doing everything they can to make sure that horse is a good fit for you.

Months off:  Make sure your partner is up to date with their dental work and their hooves are in good shape and shod, if necessary.  Put together a fitness plan for your horse.  While you’re getting them in shape again there’s a few exercises that are always good to include:  TRANSITIONS!, adjustability – lengthening and shortening stride, bending, and eventually riding up and down hills – even consider riding bareback a little.

Equipment –Years off:  If you still have some of your old tack, it may be time to update.  Some of your items may be just fine, but others may need to be replaced for reasons better than just keeping up with trends.  If you have a saddle you love, it may work – you’ll need to have the tree checked and if an older English saddle, it may need to be re-flocked.  It’s also important to check all of the leather, stitching and hardware.  If you have an old helmet, Stephanie suggests investing in a new helmet regardless of if your old one still looks great.  New safety standards have been implemented in recent years and it’s recommended that helmets be replaced after each fall or number of years.

Months off:  Clean/condition and look over all of your tack to make sure it is in good repair and nothing needs repaired or replaced.  Also, if you ever ride alone Stephanie suggests getting the Horse Rider SOS App (HorseRiderSOS.com).

Fitness– Stephanie believes that a rider’s emotional confidence improves when they feel stronger and have more body awareness, translating into better riding.  When you’re only riding once or twice a week, it’s great if you can incorporate other activities like yoga or Pilates.  These will improve core strength and body awareness.

Your fitness level should relate to your goals – but no matter what they are, improved fitness does translate into improved confidence and better riding at all levels.  There are fitness classes specifically designed for riders – a great way to meet other horse crazy people!

On a final note Stephanie states, “expect riding to be as rewarding as you remember, but there may be some other things you experience differently.  As a child you may not have had much interest in the “why?” behind the exercise.  Typically adults understand the theories intellectually but struggle when their execution isn’t perfect.  It’s important to remember that although riding is and should be challenging, it should primarily be safe and fun- forgive yourself and your horse for mistakes.”

Stephanie Bell’s lesson, training and showing program is called North Star Equestrian LLC (see www.northstarhunterjumper.com) and operates out of Lone Star Equestrian in Evergreen as well as other venues in the Denver area.  Her students range from 6 to 60’s. She teaches the basics in most all riding disciplines, but the majority of her education and experience is in English. She lives in Englewood with her husband and 4-year-old daughter.  Stephanie can be reached at stephanieabell@msn.com or 720-209-8361.  Heather McWilliams © 2013.  For past articles, events, business directory and horse properties, go to MtnHomes4Horses.com.


MtnHomes4Horses.com – Mountain Homes and Resources for Horse People

Mountain Homes for Horses is your resource for all things horse in the Denver Foothill communities of Evergreen, Conifer, Morrison, Indian Hills, Pine and Bailey!  Started by Andrew McWilliams of RE/MAX Alliance, MtnHomes4Horses.com is the website for Horse Properties; local horse related business like tack & feed stores, trainers, riding lessons; boarding facilities and restaurants to try if you are new to the area.  Please let us know how we can help you buy or sell your property or let others know about your local horse business!  If you are wondering what a local trail is like, check out our trail guide with slide shows from different local parks.

MtnHomes4Horses.com has a thorough event calendar to keep you up to date on our local meetings, shows, events, trail rides and more!

Our blog contains a wide variety of information on local people, organizations, shows, the latest happenings and interests of people in our community.

MtnHomes4Horses.com is here to serve you!   Let us know how we can be of assistance!




Mount Evans State Wildlife Area

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Trail Ride:  Mount Evans State Wildlife Area.  Sometimes this is called “Elk Management” by locals.

Near:  End of Upper Creek Road, which originates at Evergreen Lake.

Website:  wildlife.state.co.us/Landwater/statewildlifeareas/Pages/swa.aspx – select “Mount Evans SWA” in the drop down menu in the blue box.

Directions & Map Link:  From Evergreen Lake; turn right on Upper Bear Creek Rd. Go 6.5 miles to CR480 go right on CR480 for 3 miles. Interactive Map

Notes:  This is an absolutely beautiful area with a ton of wildlife. Vehicles are not allowed here unless they are DOW vehicles, but are rarely seen. Go with someone who has been the first time or study your topo map. Some roads lead to locked gates and some go on forever. You can make a loop if you study your maps. Pack in camping is allowed in certain areas. Use caution during hunting season. Animals causing problems in neighborhoods are sometimes relocated here.