Getting to Know the Ranch

After a seven hour drive in everything from light rain to absolute downpour, we arrived at the ranch.  When we left Dayton, the thermostat on the van read 79 degrees, upon arriving in Rothbury, Michigan, we were at 61 degrees.  Amazing difference.

Check in went smooth with Matthew being an amazing help.  All of the staff at check in was extremely friendly and made us feel right at home.  Hannah and I felt like we had a personal concierge and new friend in Matthew.  Our suite is amazing, very comfortable and very well appointed.  A nice kitchen, eating area, and living room with fireplace, futon couch and sofa.  Bedroom is well appointed with a jacuzzi tub, comfortable king bed and over-sized bathroom.  Not to mention, there is enclosed underground parking.  Our room overlooks the golf course – tee of hole one and the putting practice area.

Our suite at the Double J

Today is Saturday and we started the day with a very loud thunderstorm awakening us around 5am.  I wondered about our trail ride later in the day and lesson first thing in the morning.  Not to worry, the front desk staff was fantastic and let me know that they still do lessons and rides unless there is an absolute downpour and lightening.  By 9am, the rain had let up and we were off to the Alamo Corral for Hannah’s Top Hand lesson.  With it being the opening kick off week for the summer, the resort is not bery busy, and this afforded Hannah a private lesson with Maddie.  Maddie is a college student who first came here to the Double J when she was ten.  Now in college for pre-vet medicine at Columbia, this job working with animals and getting to live her passion is the perfect summer job.  Maddie was wonderful working with Hannah and we’ve added yet another friend to our repertoire here at the Double J.

Following our lesson, we headed to the K9 Korral and met Tasha, Maggie and Collin – three of the 8 huskies out this week for interaction with the guests.  Hannah adopted Tasha for the week and is already spoiling her with a bandanna and treats.  We missed the morning walk, but the afternoon walk was quite the adventure.  These huskies are sled dogs, so put a harness on them and they are ready to pull.  We took Tasha out for a walk, and she pulled both Hannah and I around the back 40.  It took both of us to hold onto her.  Great workout and tons of fun with the doggie!!  Might I just add here – if I had 1/4 of the energy or strength that this dog has in her hind quarters, I would be set for life!

The sun broke through the clouds a bit after noon and we headed off for our first trail ride.  I got Patches – a stubborn and obviously hungry horse.  This horse spooked 3 different times and tested my control of a large animal.  During the near hour long ride, Patches decided she needed a snack over 15 times.  Seriously, how much can one horse eat?  The highlight of the ride, was seeing Hannah canter across an open field.  It was magnificent to see her with such control.  Note – we were broken up into separate groups based on ability.  Due to Patches being a bit stubborn (and hungry), I stayed with the walking group, while Hannah ventured over to the group that would canter.  My group had about 15 in it, while Hannah had only 3.  She was extremely excited since Thomas was the wrangler in charge of their group.  Additional note, my daughter has excellent taste!

Wrangler Thomas

Saturday night at the Double J ranch is HUGE!  It’s rodeo night, and this is nothing to sneeze at.  We started with a pig roast at 6pm, followed by fun on the midway and then the rodeo at 8pm.  This is an absolute family oriented show with 3 integral parts – the cowboys/cowgirls, the animals and the audience.  Bull riding was thrilling tonight with a few bulls that just could not be ridden out of the shoot.  They were bucking and climbing the rails and eventually put out to play with the “bull fighter”.  Amazing talent for a smaller rodeo, but big on cheering and family fun.  There was the calf chasing by adults and children to remove a ribbon from the tail of a calf who very obviously wanted to play, “keep away.”  There was mutton wrangling for the youngsters, with an amazing 9 year old holding on for 16.4 seconds (16.3 longer than I ever would have made it).  There was the “wild ass” race which was absolutely hysterical and a great representation of what it means to “act like a mule”.  Despite 59 degree weather, this is fun for everyone.

Bull Riding at the Double J

It’s been a long, but very fun day….off to lala land…recharging for another day on the ranch tomorrow.  After day 1, I can still manage to stand up, sit down, and walk.  Tomorrow is another day, and another trail ride!