Cowboy Town, Arizona

STORY & PHOTOS BY DEANNA KRISTENSEN

West USA Real Estate

Because of the year-round mild temperatures, Arizona horse properties often need little more than a tack shed and shade from the sun.

Whether you are a roper or an avid horse person, Wickenburg, Arizona, is a horse lover’s paradise. Penny Arthur at West USA Realty is not only an avid horse person, but has found buyers for some of the most beautiful horse properties in the area. We spent some time with Penny and asked her for advice on buying property in the area.

Wickenburg, Arizona

Try to imagine not shovelling snow next winter. Instead, envision yourself relaxing by the pool at your Arizona hideaway.

Four key tips for Canucks thinking of an Arizona location from realtor, Penny Arthur.

1. See it in person: distance sometimes makes it a necessity, especially on a property new on the market that fulfills all of our criteria and is priced well enough that it’s not likely to stay on the market for long. However, it’s best not to make offers on property you have not viewed in person.

2. Be ready: have your financing planned out and approved in advance so when you see that good deal you are ready to move. Good deals don’t last long.

3. Think for yourself: just because you have friends in a certain area doesn’t mean it is a good investment. Do some investigating on your own.

4. Utilize the fine print: after writing a contract you have a 10-day period to inspect your home and the area – use it!

Wickenburg Horse Properties, Arizona Horse Ranch

Arizona style is eclectic and modern.  

For horse lovin’ snowbirds, Wickenburg is a winter paradise. With several major arenas within a three mile radius and endless horse trails – everyday is a good day to ride in Wickenburg. See more Wickenburg horse properties at Arthur’s website, www.wildwestwickenburg.com

The Road to Arizona – Route 3

Desert-Landscape-W_HorsesIf you’ve been keeping up with our Road to Arizona routes, you’ll know we covered routes from British Columbia and Alberta to the winter horse utopia of Arizona. Offered here is a scenario from Saskatchewan through to the Cave Creek area, a route My Stable Life blogger and WHR Managing Editor, Jenn Webster and her husband, trainer, Clay, have travelled a few times in the past years.

Jenn reminds us that while the interstate through New Mexico offers the best highway route, there are currently equine disease testing implications and quarantines currently in place, be sure to educate yourself on those.

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Regina, SK to Phoenix, AZ, with two overnight stops; the first in Billings, MT and the second in Albuquerque, NM.

Border Crossing: North Portal, SK/Portal, ND

Total time: 27.75 hours (Day One: 7.5 hours to Billings. Day Two: 13.75 hours to Albuquerque. Day Three: 6.5 hours to Phoenix)

Distance: 3,040 kilometers

Road Conditions: Interstate all the way. Note that where the I25 crosses the Palmer Divide between Denver and Colorado Springs, blizzards and high winds are notorious for causing traffic problems during the winter months. Also, this trip requires a stop in New Mexico – which will necessitate Vesicular Stomatitis and Equine Piroplasmosis testing of your horse(s) prior to re-entry into Canada.

Jenn’s Trip Tips

  • The route through New Mexico truly consists of the best highway options. However, if you want to avoid the state completely (hence, the equine disease testing implications), be forewarned! The alternate route through Grand Junction, CO, and south along US-191 will see your rig negotiating rugged mountainous ranges and grades up to 10% in some areas. While the scenery is absolutely stunning along this course, the bill for the repair of your axels and brakes may not make it worthwhile.

BILLINGS

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Places to Stay: Find the Box T Ranch on Facebook or (406) 252-4388. They offer stalls or outdoor pens with cover (all with automatic waterers), an outdoor riding arena, round pens, hot walker and hookups. Close to hotels and major freeway access but if you’re piloting a larger rig, call ahead for directions to avoid a sharp turn into the driveway.

Food & Drink: The typical American eateries – Fudruckers, Applebee’s, Domino’s Pizza, abound but if you’re willing to venture out a little farther, check out Uberbrew – a contemporary microbrewery with cool sandwich choices from bison burgers, to Schnitzel sandwiches to black sesame yellow fin tuna with Firebird slaw and wasabi aioli in a gigantic bun. Wash it all down with one of their many creative craft beers. Start the following morning of your journey with a Honey Bun from Rock Creek Coffee  – a fresh brewed espresso with honey, cinnamon, frothy milk and pumpkin whipped cream topping.

To Do: Plan your trip to coincide with one of the fantastic horse auctions at Billings Livestock Commission. With catalog sales offered once a month of all types of horses, the auction pens at BLS are guaranteed to fix your horse sale sweet tooth.

ALBUQUERQUE

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Places to Stay: The Broken M Ranch offers overnight stabling, indoors or out. Even the Budweiser Clydesdales have been known to overnight here! RV hook-ups available or stay in their fully furnished guest house.

Food & Drink: Blake’s Lotaburger is within walking distance of the Broken M, but if a Green Chili Cheeseburger won’t cut it, try Jennifer James 101 (www.jenniferjames101.com). This place puts a farmer’s name on the salad’s arugula, serves foie gras off-menu to anyone who asks, converts beet haters with a divine pureed soup, and closes meals with cardamom ice-cream. For breakfast in the morning, the Broken M offers a plethora of food stocked up in the guest house – make your favorite omelet before you go!

To Do: Visit Albuquerque’s Old Town. Ten blocks of historic adobe buildings, many of which have been converted into art galleries, shops and restaurants. This historical zone of Albuquerque was founded in 1706 and looks today, much like it did when it was built centuries ago.

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Dunning’s Cow Horse Words of Wisdom

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Photo by Cappy Jackson.

If you’re in the Scottsdale, Arizona, area this winter, it may be well worth your time to check out Almosta Ranch – home of 37-time World Champion and Reserve World Champion, Al Dunning. As an American Quarter Horse Association approved judge for 27 years and serving on numerous association boards since 1970, Dunning’s expertise in reining, working cow horse and cutting is extensive. We had a chance to catch up with Dunning at a Canadian cow horse clinic where he shared several of his tips for choosing “pay” cattle, taking control of the cow and proper rider positioning to increase a cow horse score. Here are nine of the top tips we picked up on:

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Photo by Deanna Kristensen.

BOXING VS. CUTTING

#1 – The principles of cutting and boxing are the same. The horse should always move in straight lines, approaching in a straight line, stopping, turning and advancing with the cow again in a straight line. Ideally the horse should “mirror” what the cow does, hitting the stop at the same time as the cow. Then as the cow changes direction, it should essentially “pull” the horse with it through the turn.

“The goal is to hit the stop, stop straight and wait for the cow to turn. Turn with it and then get straight again,” says Dunning. “You donʼt want to run at the cow. Let the cow pull you. Hit that stop and ensure you have equal rein pressure in both of your hands while doing so.”

#2 – Stopping straight is key in both boxing and cutting for maintaining position. If the horse stops crookedly, he puts more stress on one side of his body instead of distributing it evenly through both hocks. Stopping straight also allows the horse to be in an optimal position for lifting his cow-side shoulder to turn quickly with the cow. If a horse tends to drop its cow-side shoulder into the cow, he will have trouble hitting the stop and sweeping through himself.

HERD WORK

#3 – “The hardest part about cutting out a single cow from a herd is getting them far enough up away from their buddies. The horse and rider need to move that cow into a good working position to mark some points. Make a plan for advancing towards a cow, then execute it. Choose which side of the cow you are going to go, then proceed. Think about what you want to do with that cow.”

#4 – “I donʼt like a cow that looks like it is going to go to sleep or run you over and go back to the herd. I like a cow that when you say, ʻbooʼ to it, it wants to go away. Conversely, I donʼt like cows that want to get too close to you either. I want the cow that will get away from you and move and will give you some work. Those are the ones that you can win something on.”

#5 – “When the cattle come into the arena and during all the previous works before me, I pay close attention. I will mark all the cows on on a sheet. ʻGAʼ is a go-again cow – one that I like. GA means that someone just cut that cow a little bit and I saw how it moves. This is a cow that is really good and attentive and didnʼt push on the rider. This is a cow that will not run you over, will give you a little room and work really well.”

#6 – “I like to see if thereʼs a cow in there that kind of walks out and walks back to the herd, but still looks attentive. Thatʼs the cow that I want to cut. Then again, If you go to cut a specific cow when you walk out and a cow goes to the top and you know it is fresh, you have to remember: Itʼs better to cut a bad cow good, than a good cow bad. That is a really famous term by Buster Welch.”

Photo by Natalie Jackman.

Photo by Natalie Jackman.

DOWN THE FENCE

#7 – “When going down the fence, the rider can actually shove the cow ahead faster. Which makes it difficult to get the cow turned at the marker or before the arena corner. Schooling oneʼs horse at home while working a cow down the fence is key to show ring success. Make sure you are relating your dry work practice to fence work with keeping a focus on body control and softness while chasing after a bovine.”

#8 – “Don’t confuse activity with excellence. When your horse gets too busy, he may not actually be doing anything.”

#9 – When I go around the corner I set my hand down temporarily before we go down the fence. My hand might not stay there as I may pick it up again but it gives my horse a chance to breath and “get there” instead of me hanging on his face the whole time. We need to turn the head loose! I want to ensure the rider is not balancing themselves on the reins or the horse’s head as they prepare to go down the fence. If so, they won’t have the proper riding position for a safe turn when the cow decides to go another direction.

Casa Grande’s Walking N Arena

STORY & PHOTOS BY DEANNA KRISTENSEN

Walking N Arena

Rube and Carrie Woolsey’s Walking N Arena, hosts all levels of ropers aiming to refine their skills over the winter season.

In Casa Grande, anticipation for the winter snowbird flush takes place at the Walking N Arena. While facility co-owner Carrie Woolsey, finishes up the final touches around the facility, she takes a moment to explain what their program is all about.

“My husband teaches and we all work on our roping,” smiles Woolsey.

Over the past 12 years, Carrie’s husband (multiple NFR Team Roping Qualifier) Rube Woolsey, has been taking in roping students gunning to refine their skills over the winter.

“We have geared our camp as a winter roping camp. We have some barrel racers, but we generally have clients that come to really get better at their roping. We rope Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. We do a team roping jackpot Thursday starting at 10 o’clock in the morning. Then we go into a barrel racing jackpot Thursday nights.”

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Inside the cozy quarters of the bunk house at Walking N Arena.

For the roping snowbird aiming to make some headway next season, the Woolsey’s arena is certainly one to check out.

“We tend to have people here that really want to get better with their roping. We have everything from the open roper to the guys who are just starting. But we all get done what we need to get done.”

Most of these horse RV facilities do fill up fast and are typically pretty full while winter travelers are in the sunny state preparing for their next year of competition. Nonetheless, most amenities are more than charming and sure beat riding through the winter in a couple feet of snow.

The Road to Arizona – Route 1

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Jim Greendyk operates West Coast Training and Horsemanship – a full-service equine program, offering reining, cow horse, and horsemanship clinics and training. Along with a handful of his clients, Jim’s been travelling to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show for several years now, showing his part-bred and full-bred Arabian horses, and enjoying a bit of the “road-to” scenery on the way.

I caught up with Jim earlier in the year to ask him about his route for our Road to Arizona piece in the Jan/Feb Snowbirds Guide to Riding in Arizona feature, wherein we featured three possible routes to the state from various take-off points in Canada. I kicked it off last week with a familiar route for Albertans.

Here is Jim’s route, along with a few tips from the well-travelled horseman. By the way, this year’s edition of the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show – its 59th edition – runs Feb. 13-23. Believe me, you don’t have to have an Arabian in your barn to love this show. If you’re in the state, be sure to make it a part of your plans. If not look for Jim and other Canadian riders through Iequine’s excellent feed of the show.

Route1

Abbottsford, BC to Phoenix, AZ, with an overnight in Bakersfield, CA.

Border Crossing: Huntingdon, BC/Sumas, WA
Total time: 25 hours (Day One: 17.5 hours to Bakersfield. Day 2: 7.5 hours to Phoenix
Distance: 2,637 kilometers
Road Conditions: Interstate all the way. It seldom happens but occasionally the Siskiyou Mountain Range Pass may close for snow, in which case be prepared to stop in Medford, or Yreka, Oregon.

Jim’s Trip Tips
• Try not to hit the Siskiyou – the mountain range between southern Oregon and northern California at night.
• If a nearly 18 hour drive is more than you’re hankering for in one leg, plan for a two night overnight – one night in Medford, Oregon (fairgrounds will stall overnight), then Bakersfield the second night. Besides the easier drive, you’ll land a stunning view of Mount Shasta on the morning of day two, just past Yreka, CA.
• Fuel up before the Mojave Desert and drive the speed limit in California.

BAKERSFIELD 
To Stay: The Bakersfield Fairgrounds offers overnight stabling. Find the Triple C Ranch Horse Hotel on Facebook or (661) 845-6937. They offer indoor box stalls, indoor and outdoor arenas, alfalfa for sale, parking and hook-ups for big rigs and campers. Close to motels.

To Do: Visit Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace and Museum – a combination theater/museum housing memorabilia spanning Buck Owens’ 40 year career in country music. See what’s playing at the Fox Theatre, an historical 1930’s theatre with extraordinaire acoustics in an intimate setting.

Food & Drink: Named “Best Basque Food Restaurant of 2013” stop by the Wool Growers Restaurant where pickled tongue is the house specialty. After a long haul, a margarita is in order – enjoy Mexican food and drink at Mexicali. Fill up with a good breakfast before hitting the last leg of your trip at the local favorite – 24th Street Cafe.

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Road to Arizona – Route 2

route2backdoortrailerIn the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine, as part of our Snowbirds Guide to Riding in Arizona, we featured three routes to Arizona based on the conversations we had with readers who have actually driven them.

Just after Christmas, with two horses (and a dog) in tow, Dean and I and Wee, started out on Route #2 ourselves – from Calgary to Phoenix (Cave Creek, more correctly).

For me, the challenge of meeting a 4:00 a.m. departure deadline is firstly, responding to the iPhone alarm that rouses me from sleep, and secondly, actually, and finally leaving the house. I’m always sure I’ve left something undone, behind or unmanaged. Once we’ve finally loaded the horses and are on the road, I can relax.

We left the log house just after 4:00 a.m. with the idea of hitting the U.S. Customs crossing at Sweetgrass, Montana, just in time to meet the federal vet at 8:00 a.m. This year, it all went to plan, and we were well into Montana by 9:00 a.m. This route is interstate all the way, but the mountain passes through Montana can be snowy and slippery, and even territory down through Utah can be set in winter conditions. We were fortunate to have favourable road conditions bringing us safely to Ogden, Utah, just after 6:00 p.m. that evening.

As it can take a full hour to drive from the north to the south end of the city, our intent had been to avoid the next mornings rush hour traffic by pushing through Salt Lake City and overnighting the horses just south of the city at the South Jordan Fairgrounds (see Salt Lake County Fair on Facebook), which we understood offers $15/night stalls as well as plug-ins for your living quarters trailer right by the barn. However, in the hours as we approached SLC, we were unable to reach anyone at the fairgrounds and so opted instead for the Golden Spike ArenaWe called ahead and a fellow met us promptly, and assigned two comfy and bedded stalls for our horses. (if you do plan on overnighting your horses here, keep in mind they lock the gates for the night at midnight and reopen at 5:00 a.m.)

Another suggested overnight with horses is just prior to Ogden at the Tremonton Fairgrounds  (manager: (435) 257-5366) for a quick overnighter. Clearly signed as you are about to enter Tremonton, and only about a mile off the freeway, pay $10/night for a bedded, clean, safe stall which they will muck out for you in the morning.

By the way, for hardcore haulers who can go the distance, I mention a few other stops, an hour or more south of Salt Lake City, as well as a few worthwhile side trips and great places to eat and western shop in the Ogden and SLC area in our Road to Arizona feature in the magazine.

By 6:00 a.m. the following morning, we were loading our rested horses, and the second leg of the 2,588 kilometre trip through the south end of Utah and into Arizona flew by. A favoured activity became monitoring the rise of the outside temperature throughout the day. As expected, by 6:00 p.m. we were unloading horses in the warmth of an early evening at our winter home near Cave Creek, Arizona.

At the end of it all, we agreed it feels a bit as though we’re not as up to the long hauls as we used to be, and perhaps next year, we’d opt for a two-overnight on the way, hauling hard for 12-13 hours the first day to Ogden, then an easy 6-1/2 hours over to Las Vegas the second day, leaving a short 5 hour jaunt from Vegas to Cave Creek for the final day.

Route2mapAfter all, it’s about the journey, right?

It felt great to have our horses back in our little corner of the desert for the winter. Riding here is truly a seriously effective anecdote to the cold north temperatures, and we were in need of a good dose of it. We gave the horses a restful day off and then headed out to the desert. I think they loved it as much as we did.

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route2truckplateIf I’ve peaked your curiosity about more routes to Arizona, and wintering with horses in this riding utopia, remember the Jan/Feb issue of Western Horse Review is on newsstands now.

The Desert in Bloom

BY INGRID SCHULZ

If I had a bucket list (I don't), near to the top of it would be seeing the Sonoran desert in bloom. Over the few years we've been spending partial winters in Arizona, I'd often heard it was a stunning and short few days, perhaps a week of full bloom color. Always, it eluded me.

Desert poppies and lupines.

Until, this year, when we seemed to hit the right time arriving at the end of March for a 10 day stay.

This saguaro is likely 150-200 years old, and wouldn't have grown it's first “arms” until it reached the age of 75.

The Sonoran desert covers 120,000 miles of land encompassing southwestern Arizona, northeastern California and down into Mexico. The most recognizable and stunning symbol of this arid land is the saguaro cactus, which incidentally is found nowhere else in the world. This is one of about 500 photos I have of saguaro cactus. Each is unique and there are thousands in the area, but we never seem to tire of photos-ops with a saguaro.

The rest of the vegetation is all cactus, Palo Verde trees and bush, and but for a few brief days they are seemingly prickly, weedy and dry. But, this year we caught it all in bloom and it was simply, a beautiful sight.

Wee, her visiting friend and I headed out one morning to have a look. The land was a green as we'd ever observed it, almost a surreal transformation from the usual dry and prickly landscape.

Everywhere flowers peeked out, even amongst the most thorny of backdrops.

A blooming staghorn cactus, with a Christmas cholla growing up amidst it, and flanked by brittlebush.

I think this trailing pretty white-flowered specimen is a buckwheat.

Even the most non-descript of cactii, the tiny and aptly-named hedgehog threw forth a stunning red bloom.

Back at the house we picked a bouquet of wildflowers from around the yard, only to walk the yard with a gardener later in the day and have him advise us to have all these “weeds” sprayed.

I understood the logic, after all, back home blankets of yellow dandelions choke out our good grass and here, these plants are dry and somewhat unsightly for most of the year, and worse, represent a fire hazard.

Still, for this neophyte desert dweller, I remain in awe of the beauty this arid land can produce for a few short days in spring.

Hikes, Trails and More Arizona Go-Sees

Arizona Western Go-Sees

By far one of the most prominent horse events in February is the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show & Shopping Expo, beginning February 14 and running through to February 24. It’s held at the beautiful WestWorld facility and whether Arabians are your breed of choice or not, this show is a must-see if you’re in the area.

This year, the 58th edition of the show will host more than 640 colorful classes, which will collectively pay out over $1 million dollars in prizes. Check back to my post in 2011 for a few photos and words about the show. From the tradeshow, to the stall fronts, to the many classes, It truly is an amazing show.

One of the highlights of the show and a significant draw for western riders is the lucrative reining division. Watch for a Canadian representation in the Reining Futurity Classic, which offers a full and part-bred division and pays out $150,000. In addition there is a Non-Pro Derby and a Limited Futurity division.

 

Currently ongoing and through to Feb. 3 is the Arizona Sun Circuit, a fantastic Quarter Horse circuit which we featured in our Getaways section of the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine, and I believe a number of Canadians are competing at as well. There’s a number of excellent free clinics over the course of this show, definitely worth the entry gate admission.

Still in January, western lore aficionados can meander down to Mesa, Arizona and take in the massive High Noon Western Americana Collectors Weekend, Jan. 26-27. Covering all genres from antiques to cowboy chic, I’m guessing there will be interesting collections of both saddles and spurs, amongst other treasures.

Fan of horsemanship and cow sorting? Trainer Paul Dietz is hosting a horsemanship clinic Jan. 26 and a cow working clinic Jan. 27 at his Desert Hills facility. Team sorting practice is every Sunday afternoon.

Looking for something new to do with your horse for 2013. Western Dressage is taking off at Carefree Dressage in north Scottsdale.

Finally, we’ve been driving by these tents on our sojourns into Scottsdale. If you happened to miss Cavalia when it was in Canada, I imagine experiencing it in the desert would be equally magnificent. It’s running from now through to the end of Jan.

MORE HORSE EVENTS IN THE PHOENIX AREA:

There’s a Blue Ribbon Horse Show Feb. 10 at the Arizona Horse Lovers Park. 

If you

haven’t experienced the town of Wickenburg, their annual Gold Rush Days, Feb. 8-10, might be a good time to take a drive there. The town celebrates it’s ranching and gold-mining heritage with a parade, rodeo, dance, arts and of course, a staple of Arizona’s Wild West – gunfighter’s shootouts.

If you are hankering for some desert riding, hook up with the Arizona Fox Trotter Gaited National Trail Ride, Feb. 28 to March 3. Held at the historic Boyd Ranch, near Wickenburg, this ranch is nestled in the gorgeous Sonoran Desert. The trails are said to pass magnificent saguaro cactus’s and historic sites from the 1800s along the Hassayampa River. I don’t believe it is a full 5 day ride, but rather day rides with hitching rails for horses, and showers and restrooms for riders. Saturday features a dance., contact Clare Ross at (928) 925-6595 or clareross@mindspring.com

Dunn’s Arena, at Litchfield Park is a roper’s and sorter’s paradise with weekly events in both sports, as well as barrel racing. Check out the link for a full calendar of events.

The Scottsdale Saddle Club, Arizona’s oldest and one of its most active saddle clubs, has a Western Show on Feb. 17, more details at the site.

Cowboy mounted shooting offers up a vibrant culture in Arizona. Head down to the Ed Hooper arena in Casa Grande on Feb. 25-26 for what’s headlined as “not your Gramma’s shoot!” –  The Gunfight in Arizona.

In Germany, I happened to have a chance to attend a medieval jousting festival. Held on ancient castle grounds, it was a completely unexpected and fascinating side trip, learning and experiencing this vibrant equine sub-culture, which exists surrounding the Middle Ages and the sport of jousting.

Arizona also has it’s own Renaissance Festival. It runs every Saturday and Sunday from Feb. 9 to March 31, held near Apache Junction.

Finally, this year’s Carefree Indian Market and Cultural Festival, Jan. 25-27, features a rich display of native American art, music and dance.