Many folks ask us what we do in the winter, thinking we have the season off. Well, that is not quite true. While we do have shorter hours in the day and are not involved in running our multi-faceted program, we do have things to do. Winter at a Colorado dude ranch can keep several folks busy.

Of course, the horses need to be cared for. They serve us so well in the summer that they deserve the very best in their “off” time. First they go to pasture and romp and graze. Then when the snows fly, the majority of the herd gets moved to a slightly lower elevation where they have good shelter, water and are fed twice a day. Brett checks on them consistently. Our wonderful caretakers, Keith and Mary Fassbender, take care of feeding and checking on the horses daily.

Then we have the ranch itself to care for. Mike works on a variety of projects to bring the buildings and grounds to tip-top shape. When we get snow, he is right on top of plowing the driveway and he and Brett both move snow around the barns for the few horses that stay at the Colorado Trails barn all winter.

One of the fun perks we have during the winter is a chance to meet with other dude ranchers. Mike and Jeanne attend the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association’s winter retreat in November or December. This is more of a relaxing experience for the Colorado dude ranchers after their summer and fall seasons. We share ideas and talk about our experiences while having some play time.

In January, Brett and Jeanne attend The Dude Ranchers’ Association’s annual meeting. This year it was in Tucson at Tanque Verde Ranch. At these meetings, we again share ideas and learn new trends from experts in the travel business, insurance, legal and the like. We have an opportunity to visit with many of the venders from whom we purchase goods, anywhere from insurance to coffee mugs to T-shirts and towels.

Most importantly though, is the chance to visit with our dude ranch friends. We are probably one of the few industries where your competitors are your friends. We all have similar experiences and we all approach them differently. It is very refreshing to either learn a new way to handle an issue or also to see that someone else looked at an issue the same way you did.

In March, Mike and Jeanne will attend an additional meeting for the Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association which is similar to The Dude Ranchers’ Association meeting, but shorter. Here we focus on the same issues, but especially related to our own state.

So, in addition to getting rested up, getting in new reservations and hiring staff, winter at a Colorado dude ranch is special….but it all is focused on what we need to do for our Colorado Trails Ranch guests who visit with us in the summer and fall.