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6-17-09 004_edited-1-2
Women's Driving Clinic


4/29/10 - 5/1/10 - Happy Mayday Everyone!  Iíve just returned to the ranch here in Pagosa Springs. The past couple of days Iíve spent with a bunch of great gals, who signed up to participate at Lu Ann Bakerís marvelous horse driving clinic.  Everybody had a great time, learned a lot about horse driving, ate some fantastic chuck wagon cooked meals, and became much more confident in their abilities to work with these great animals.  Nearly everything for this program was donated; including, the horses, equipment and time.  The cost of the clinic for the participants barely covered the cost of the food purchased to stock the chuck wagon.

The instructors for the event included Lu Ann, Chuck and myself. The cook staff was led by Lorraine, and a lot of other people donated their time and other support. They didnít do it to make money, only to provide some instruction to some ladies interested in driving and working horses.  Iím going to let the pictures help tell the story.

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Day one started out when the ladies arrived to check in, shortly before noon.  First off, everybody got a great lunch, at the chuck wagon down by Catís Creek.  This chuck wagon was run by Lorraine, but owned by Lu Ann. Lorraine is a pretty famous chuck wagon cook.  It was her own wagon that was used in the movie ďCity SlickersĒ. What these gals could do in cast iron, over an open flame was absolutely amazing!

Lu Ann Baker, a true Icon of the American west. She has been hitching and driving horses for nearly 40 years. Here at her ranch in beautiful Cat Creek Canyon, Colorado, she continues to farm with horses, drive all over tarnation, and teach folks the ins and outs of working with these beautiful animals.

When you come right down to it, they just donít get much better than her!

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With full bellies, the ladies headed over to the barns and got their first lessons harnessing and un-harnessing horses. Chuck, Lu Ann and I all demonstrated what to do, and the gals got to practice slinging harnesses on and off a horse.  In this picture Chuck is demonstrating how to run the lines.  Chuck has been breaking, driving and working horses his whole life and is an amazing source of knowledge and experience.

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When the horses were harnessed, it was time to start driving.  Here one of the gals is learning how to drive - single, behind a nice percheron mare.

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This is Lu Annís friend Penny, driving a pretty hot Haflinger, named Howdy.  Heís got a lot of zip to him, but Penny is staying right with him. Penny has had years of experience riding and packing horses for the Forest Service, now sheís getting a chance to experience the joys of driving.

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After the first dayís activities, and a fantastic beef stew, chuck wagon supper, we all got a chance to unwind around the campfire.  This picture shows the late night crowd, still unwinding, after a great day. Of course, they required Wagonteamster supervision, so I had to stick around until the firewood ran out, just to make sure they didnít get into too much trouble!

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After a breakfast of eggs, sausage gravy, and dutch oven cooked biscuits, the gals hitched up some horses and got a chance to drive some teams around.

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My hostess, Cary Ellis, from the ranch, stopped by to do some filming, and we handed her a team of horses and some lines.  It didnít take her long to pick up the inís and outís of team driving.

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With everybody handling a team pretty good, we hitched them up to some wagons and fore-carts and the ladies drove them around.  We had teams hitched to two different wagons and a fore-cart, and single horses hitched to two different fore-carts.  There were a lot of horses being driven in the field, resulting in a couple of small traffic jams, but no collisions.  In this picture, the ladies are driving a pair of Chuckís nicely trained Suffolk Punches.

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This is the other pair of Suffolk Punch Draft horses at the event. In this picture Shawn, who owns the team, is helping one of the gals master team driving.

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There are few things as fun as driving a well trained team of draft horses in a beautiful Colorado canyon.

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But, riding along as someone else drives is almost as fun!

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This is Chuck, with his great team of Suffolk Punches.

Sadly, I had to leave before the ladies got a chance to take their teams out on the road or pull a harrow and drag around the field, but, Iíll always cherish this experience as one of the most rewarding times Iíve had.  I guess you could sum this whole experience up by saying it was ďSUPERĒ, but Iím sure all the gals that attended will have a lot more and better descriptions of the experience.

Following are a couple of picture taken the day before I headed off to Cat Creek Canyon.  They were taken at Randall and Caryís beautiful ranch, north of Pagosa Springs.

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Having a snort and a laugh with Randall in the wagon.

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At the ranch, with a windy, bad hair day.  Notice the large herd of elk grazing behind me. So much for my fence repairs the previous day - Oh Well.

I plan on taking one more day off, before hitting the road on Monday.  Then, Iím headed west for Durango, Cortez and Dove Creek.  If I get sidelined along the way because Iíve met some great people, found a fantastic place, or just felt like it, Oh well, ĎThingsí do happen!