This is Poco; he had the most gorgeous markings. I want him.
This place is so magical. From the moment we arrived, we felt like we'd come "home". As we arrived, someone came bounding out of the lodge, greeted both Anna and I by name and carried in our luggage. She gave us a great tour of the property and told us to be sure to stick around after dinner for the cowboy poet. After we ate, they set up a comfy leather couch in front of the huge stone fireplace and he serenaded us as Anna lay in my lap. The other guests hadn't yet arrived, so it was just me and Anna and the wranglers, enjoying this crusty old guy with the voice of an angel.
(A note about the "wranglers": they are all 20-somethings who share a common love of horses. They live on the ranch, some year-round, and you can feel the sense of community. It would be Anna's dream job (mine too, if I were 20 years younger), to live on that gorgeous ranch and spend each day caring for and riding horses. Some of them come for a season or two and end up staying for years. One of our wranglers was raised in Connecticut and was on a yuppie career-path when she realized that she didn't want to spend her life in pantyhose and heels, surrounded by sky-scrapers. So she made her way out west and she's been on the ranch for 8 years now.)
As we were eating breakfast the next morning, one of the gals came and sat down next to Anna and very solemnly said "I just talked to the wranglers and they're short-handed down at the barn this morning. We don't know how we're going to get the horses ready to ride in time. Do you think you might be able to help?" Anna just BEAMED. She didn't even finish her breakfast because she didn't want to be late. They put her to work brushing the horses and even had her pick their hooves. She loved every minute of it.
We got to go on two long rides on Saturday; despite it being chilly and there still being some snow on the mountain, it was so beautiful and Anna had perma-grin the entire time. She charmed the wrangler ahead of her by talking the entire time, telling her everything she knew about horses (which is A LOT) and the different experiences she's had riding. She remembers the name (and breed and color) of every horse she's ever ridden.
Yesterday I received the nicest email from the owner, thanking us for our visit and saying how "extraordinary" everyone found Anna to be and that she was on his radar to become a wrangler in 2020. It was very cute. He also said that, as a fellow Boise High School grad, I would be entitled to a life-long discount; the discount code is the name of an eccentric teacher we discovered we'd both had and had shared a laugh about.
I'm telling you, the ranch is so beautiful and the people so charming, that by the time you leave you are already plotting how soon you can come back. I know I am.