Well once again we’re excited to offer our guests something new and exclusive here at the ranch and the response has been incredible. For many years our upper pasture has had a variety of horse agility obstacles for guests to work and compete against their friends and family for the best times in completion, but this year we really felt like there was a lot more room up there that we could be utilizing. So we sat down and put our cowboy hats together and lo and behold, the Bar Lazy J Challenge Course was brought to life. With both a beginner and advanced side of the course, there are challenge stations for both the novice and experienced rider. But you’ll find your experience really has little to do with it. This challenge course? Is for your horse. It took a crew of our staff a whole week to build. Lots of digging…. ….hammering (Working ranch kids don’t fall under child labor laws. These count as chores.)……. …..and LOTS of tires! So what is our challenge course consist of you might ask? Have you ever seen dogs do agility? Do you notice their owners? Are they leading them through the obstacles? Is it their performance that’s being judged? Are they the ones winning the ribbon? Of course not. It’s the dog. Horse agility is the same. Actual horse agility trials have horses running through obstacles and performing without being ridden and without being attached to leads. Pretty cool huh? Now, obviously that would be completely unrealistic to try to do in a large group with our horses (and guests—can you imagine??), but we wanted to create an experience where guests could get a taste of what it was like to teach their horse something new. To enable them to help their horse come closer to conquering their natural fears of things they aren’t accustomed to. Now NOTE we did not say, “to absolutely finish the course” or “make their horses obey”. For our purposes, the new challenge course allows our guests to give encouragement and provide positive experiences for their horse in a teaching atmosphere where even the slightest improvement is a victory. And what drastic improvements we are seeing already! With seven stations on both the beginner and advanced sides, there are plenty of ways for horses at every stage to challenge themselves. And with the guidance of your wranglers, every session is left on a positive note—whether your improvement be big or small—THAT is your goal! Cheri and Rimrock demonstrate one of the platform holds on the advanced course. At this obstacle, Rimrock doesn’t even balk, but for some horses, even getting their foot to touch it is an accomplishment! (He’s a bit of showoff that Rimrock is……) But check out our first-time guests having their own victory moments! We’ve been so proud of their ability to slow down their hands and feet and learn to cue and reward their horses. These moments are so fun—true bonding! It’s a must-try for everyone! Calling all cowboys and cowgirls! Get your dancin’ boots on! We’re burnin’ the hardwood floor up once again--and we’re throwing some new dances at ya! If you’re not laughing and you’re not sweating—you’re not doing it right! Speaking of challenges, the new Bar Lazy J River Zip is back in business as well, but we’re pleased to share we have a new top of the line braking system that allows even more of our guests to enjoy this adrenaline pumping ride over the river. Our original brake system consisted of an auto-brake that slowed you down once you reached a certain point at the end of the zip line, but the swinging motion that came with being slowed by that brake made us have to recommend that anyone with previous back or neck injuries not take part just in case it could aggravate prior trouble areas. But NOW with the new Brakehawks, our guests control their speed from the second they take off and glide themselves in to a gentle stop on the platform below. Although it takes more training on the top end at our practice zip, we are thrilled to offer a more interactive experience and smoother ride for our guests. It’s been a hit with first-timers and returnees alike! We knew our guests would love it. But when a lone calf came wandering up? Uhhh….that was a first…. (We told him he would need to prove he could work the hand brake…..) Actually, this little drifter concerned us a bit. We could tell this little guy was malnourished and extremely weak from dehydration. He wobbly came right to us at a snail’s pace and then stood motionless as we approached him. With the closest cow herds miles away, we knew he was misplaced, so like good neighbors do, we saddled up and brought him home with us ‘til we could find where he belonged. Poor little fella could barely walk! He never even saw the water station we led him to. He stopped right at the little muddle puddle in front of it and slurped and slurped ‘til it was all gone. Now that was a thirsty calf. We’re happy to report we tracked down the thankful owning ranch a short time later and we learned he’d been orphaned days earlier and had been missing ever since. Amazing nothing else got to him before we did and we were glad to see the little guy going back to their home for some special care with a surrogate mom who would nurse him like her own. Hurray for happy endings! Just another day at the ranch!