I mentioned in a previous “how we got here” post that my biggest fear in making the move from Ohio to Colorado was that we would not be able to bring our horses, Duke and Blue with us.  Would the horses adapt well?  They were both very healthy, but going from practically sea level to 9,000 feet would take a little adjusting.  Being in a herd of five and now living with twenty other horses would be new to them.  If I knew Duke, he wouldn’t let anyone take his herd leader position.  Not even a 2,000 pound Belgian draft horse. We’ll see.

clark colorado winter

I warned him…he better start growing hair fast

I knew that our horses wouldn’t be able to make the initial move with us because having them trot along side the jeep and loaded down trailer from Ohio to Colorado was out of the question. Our good friend assured us, that if we could find a place for them, and we would pay for his gas and food, he would be happy to haul them out to Colorado for us. Thank goodness for great friends.

Would the horses adapt well in Colorado?


I should probably rewind a little.  Johnny and I picked Steamboat Springs Colorado as our “home for now” destination for many reasons.  First and foremost, we wanted to live near a ski town where we could easily find jobs in that industry due to all of the tourism.

Steamboat Springs snowboarding

fun week entertaining family on the mountain

Of course it helped that we are avid snowboarders and wanted to experience the mountain on the days we didn’t work . I know, I know, work seems to always revolve around play for us.  That’s a good thing right?  We have always loved the hometown, family feel of Steamboat Springs.  Even though it is a booming little ski town, it still has a lot of ranching heritage and charm about it.

We searched the classifieds for a couple of weeks while still in Ohio and Johnny was very intrigued with a job driving a city bus for Steamboat Springs Transit. The job involved driving people to and from the ski mountain and various places around town.

Johnny starts his tour guide career


Management really liked him on the phone interview and pretty much offered him the job as long as he could obtain his class B cdl and pass a drug test. Steamboat Springs Transit is such a great company, because they provide the cdl training at no charge and actually pay the potential drivers while they are in training.  You don’t find that much anymore.

In my search of the classifieds, I came across a cute little cabin at a guest ranch that was for rent in a town about 17 miles north of Steamboat Springs, called Clark.  This guest ranch offered sleigh ride dinners in the winter months, horseback rides in the summertime and hunting trips in the fall.

elk river guest ranch horseback riding

fury beasts…would the horses adapt well to the altitude?

There were five cabins that the owners usually rented to vacationers, but that year they were looking for long term renters.  And guess what?  They needed horses for the horseback rides. PERFECT!  At the end of October, we were reunited with our boys and I warned them that they needed to grow hair, lots of hair and really fast.

Now before, when I said little cabin, I am talking about roughly 350 square feet.  That tiny house doesn’t seem small to us now, but remember, we just came from a 2,200 sq. ft., four bedroom, two car garage home that was filled with “stuff”.  The ranch has a lot of history and is one of the oldest guest ranches in the County.  It had so much charm and character that Johnny and I knew it would be “home for now” as I like to put it, the instant we saw it.

routt national forest snowshoeing

Chancey adopted us…he loved everything about that cold white stuff

We knew that Steamboat Springs averaged around 300 to 400 hundred inches of snow a year and Clark averaged around 550 inches of snow.  That is why locals refer to the little town as the Clarktic Circle. It starts snowing in October and doesn’t stop until late April.  At times we had to shovel off the cabin roof, then shovel around the windows so the weight of the snow wouldn’t come crashing through into the living room.

Snow, snow and more snow


The ranch is nestled in a beautiful little valley in the Routt National forest with the Elk River across the road just feet from the ranch. Ok, so let’s see here.  We just moved to a place where world class skiing/snowboarding is thirty minutes away, a class four river (during high water) is steps from our cabin, rock climbing is right in our backyard, snowmobiling and snowshoeing are in abundance from November until April and best of all, the horses stay for free since they will be used for the horse program.


Blue in training to be a “dude” horse…that was his contribution to the family

I thought ok, what’s the catch?  There was no catch.  We had an incredible three years at the Elk River Guest Ranch and became very good friends with the owners.  We had fun on the mountain with them, rafting with them, and riding trails with them.  Johnny and I were fortunate to have fairy tale like jobs while staying at the ranch.  Johnny’s was part time, mine was a full time position at the ranch, and I still miss those nights in the tipi.  Join us next week and I will tell you all about our awesome jobs and those magical nights under the cold Colorado stars, hearing the sleigh bells in the distance.

P.S.  I didn’t know that the spelling of tipi was acceptable several different ways and yes, the horses adapted great to the Colorado altitude, weather and new herd.



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