A review of 2012 at the Miller-Ranch
We seldom look back at the Miller-Ranch as our outlook is primarily into the future.
In 2012 we published only a few news items from the Miller-Ranch, although we had plenty of news to report. There have been few years in the history of the Miller ranch in which we have had so many things to report. Almost every week we have had something new to report, but that news was overrun quickly by new events taking place. This is not meant to be “old news” but gives a short overview of the events at Miller-Ranch in 2012.
Trail rides in 2012:
Pack trail into the Mazatal-Superstitions Wilderness
The Miller-Ranch had five guests from April 28 – May 2. They all were experienced riders with trail experience, gained previously at the Miller-Ranch. For some, it was the sixth time they had ridden a Fox Trotter from the Miller-Ranch on a trail ride. One of them was a participant of the sensational 2003 ride when the Miller-Ranch crossed the Grand Canyon from the north to the south rim with 10 Fox Trotter and 8 guests.
It was the first and last time in the Grand Canyon history, that this trail was managed with horses.
Our guests did not expect an enhancement, but looked forward to another new adventure. It would take too much space to detail this ride; out of an adventure, it quickly became a survival tour for some of the participants.
It was a pack trail through the Superstitions Wilderness in Arizona. It certainly was not an easy trail, but for the Fox Trotters from the Miller-Ranch, no problem.
The ride to the first camp was a minor adventure without any problems; far away from civilization through the Superstitions Mountain Wilderness. We saw no human beings, and there was certainly no cellphone connection to the outside world; the cellphone became a useless tool.
The trail to the second camp however, demanded a great deal from the horses and their riders; some of the riders went to their limits.
High temperatures and steep mountain trails with deep slopes made the blood pressure rise.
The Miller-Ranch had accomplished this trail with guests several times in previous years and although the trail was challenging to both horses and riders it was navigable. However, this time, it looked as if the trail had not been used by any horse for some years.
Trees blocked the trail, and in some areas the trail disappeared completely. It became necessary to clear the trail and make it accessible for horse and rider. The primary problem was the narrowness; the pack horses were constantly catching their loads in tree branches, in a tree or on a rock; several times the packs came out of balance or started sliding. The load often had to be newly tackled.
Long story short, we did not make it to the second camp as darkness was closing in. In order to get the horses and riders out safely, we had to get rid of the pack saddle with our sleeping bags and food as well as the pack saddle with all the kitchen utensils.
Three shoes were lost, jackets, pants and shirts were torn and some scratches decorated bodies and faces. But fortunately no serious injuries occurred to any of the horses or riders.
It was a miracle that the trail experienced Fox Trotters did not receive any cuts or scratches.
All's well that ends well. As planned we returned to the trail head where trucks and trailers were waiting and arrived back at the ranch just in time for dinner.
We thanked our horses, and the riders showed pride on their faces for having triumphed over such adversity. With champagne and wine this adventure – or as some said “survival trail” - found its happy ending.
With the Fox Trotters from the Miller-Ranch into the Monument Valley
May 13 – 23, 2012
For almost 20 years the Miller-Ranch and their Fox Trotters have been riding in Monument Valley and within the Navajo Reservation. This ride is a true classic – unforgettable and each day brings a new highlight. Normally we take up to 6 guests on to this trail; this time was an exception with seven guests.
Two guests came from Austria, two from Germany, two from Canada and one from Arizona. He brought his own horse, which he had purchased from the Miller-Ranch.
All others guests, except one from Austria, have Fox Trotters from the Miller-Ranch at home.
The ride through Monument Valley and the Navajo reservation with the Fox Trotters from the Miller-Ranch is truly a special experience. Even a rider with average riding experience can participate on this trail with our sure-footed and guaranteed well trained horses. None of the trails, offered on the market, can compare with the Miller-Ranch's trails.
No one else has the experience of riding in the country of the wild burros, on the small paths through the Painted Mountains. Even though the trail itself is a small adventure, other unforeseeable incidents or mother nature herself, can turn this ride into a real adventure.
In spring, it is not rare for Monument Valley to be hit by strong winds combined with dust storms, even if the forecast is for sunny and clear weather.
The good thing about a dust storm – if one could call a dust storm good – is that they occur only during the evening hours. The hot air rises from the desert late afternoon and that often creates local storms.
During one of these storms our sunscreen tent was blown away and some of the other tents also did not survive. Only the luggage remained on the ground, but sand was everywhere.
Fortunately, we had brought spare tents with us, so nobody had to camp in the open.
We were very fortunate to have Fred and Nicole from Canada with us along with their luxurious trailer with a roomy living area. There was room enough for everyone, and in spite of the dust storm it became a very cozy dinner night.
Fred and Nicole had come to pick up their horses, Velvet's Touchdown M.R. and Legend Outlaw's Paolo M.R. purchased from the Miller-Ranch and were continuing to Canada after joining us for the Monument Valley trail ride.
Normally we camp in a better protected area, but this time we relied on the weather forecast and lost.
On a trail, one will always have to cope with special incidents and often a small adventure turns into a big one. One could easily do without such incidents, but they are often unavoidable.
One of our top mares cut her leg on a sharp rock. It was a long walk with her back to the trailers and that same evening we drove her to the veterinary clinic in Scottsdale where she had surgery the next day.
The following day the truck and trailer arrived back in the camp with a replacement horse.
The mare had to rest for several months but according to the veterinarian she will be 100% OK again. Now in December she has started her rehab training.
All's well that ends well. Amazing horses combined with a fantastic group of people made for a memorable experience for all. Our guests were delighted with this trail and appreciated the opportunity to ride on such amazing horses through scenery one can usually just dream about. Guests experiencing this unforgettable trail, often come back again.
With the Fox Trotters from the Miller-Ranch into the Monument Valley
September 16 – 25, 2012
What makes our spring trail different from this one?
Well the scenery is the same and also the horses, although not necessarily identical to the ones from the spring trail.
As in the spring, we were a group of seven riders; one over the limit. One more participant means more time and effort disproportional to the one person. Instead of one truck we need two and instead of one Indian driver we need two. We had confirmed to a group, and therefore it needed to be done. This time two guests arrived from Austria and five from Germany. None of them had a horse from the Miller-Ranch at home and for some it was the first ride on a Fox Trotter.
As expected, all were excited about their first ride into such beautiful country on this special breed. Everyone was also very impressed and complimentary of the food provided by Miller-Ranch.
In contrast to the dust storm that occurred during the spring trail ride, this time we enjoyed gorgeous weather.
The day time temperature was not higher than 78 F and at night not lower than 68 F. There was always a blue sky and only a light comfortable breeze. All was right. Again, the group was fantastic, the horses excellent and the scenery breathtaking.
For dinner we grilled the genuine Miller-Ranch cowboy steaks, which are as famous in the trail world as the Fox Trotter from the Miller-Ranch.
A drop of bitterness; Papagena was kicked by one of our geldings and we had to give her a rest. Fortunately, one of our spare horses was available to take her place. With Legend´s Outlaw M.R.. and Arizona Outlaw´s Highlander M.R.. we had two of our stallions with us.
Time and again our guests were surprised how well-behaved the stallions were and that they did not create any problems during loading into the trailer or even during transportation with mares and geldings. At night, on the picket line, they all stood together well-behaved eating their hay.
The departure time could not have been planned any better. We intended to eat breakfast in the camp but clouds appeared and the first rain drops fell. We quickly packed while everything was still dry and breakfast was served at McDonald’s in Kayenta; from the solitude without telephone and internet back into the modern world.
Two days in the Sonoran Desert
December 2 – 4, 2012
With a group of eight from Israel, the 2012 trail year with guests ended at the Miller-Ranch. The group heard about Miller-Ranch through our friends Arik and Ella from Israel.
The eight cowboys were: Amit, Oded, Ilan, Amir, Netanel, Shlomo, Amnon and Moshon. Their first stop was the reigning championship in Oklahoma. From there they arrived in Arizona to spend three days at the Miller-Ranch The Rodeo Championship in Las Vegas was their next stop.
At home in Israel they ride TWH, but now they learned all about the Fox Trotters and they loved them.
During our last evening together Ilan made us a big compliment. He started riding when he was only 5 years old, earned money as a jockey during his youth and has been riding for more than 50 years.
He said: “Today's ride was the most beautiful of my life”.
It was only the Seven Springs Trail in the Sonoran Desert; let's see what he will say, when joining us on a trail ride into the Monument Valley. Legend's Outlaw M.R., his trail horse for 3 days, certainly contributed to the fact that this trail became a highpoint for Ilan.
Which horses left the Miller-Ranch during 2012?
In the spring Pawnee´s Missouri Belle and Commander-In-Chief M.. traveled to Europe to their new owner near Bad Nauheim. Samantha of Sonny L..and Glory´s Lula Mae. moved to Koblenz, Germany.Arizona Outlaw´s Chanel No. 5 M.R. left to the Liebeneck stable.
October left Velvet´s Charly Brown M.R. to Coppenbrügge to Rachel and Andreas. Also in the spring left to Canada Velvet´s Touchdown M.R.. and Legend Outlaw´s Paolo M.R. and to Colorado Missouri´s Sunset.
Who was born in 2012 at the Miller-Ranch?
Arizona Outlaw´s Country Lady M.R.
,Legend Outlaw´s Chilly Pepper M.R.
-Legend Outlaw´s Zuni M.R.- Manitou M.R.- Prince Phillip M.R.- and -Velvet´s Black Tattoo M.R.
It's agonizing to have to choose when such excellent horses are growing up here.
Tattoo is a feast for the eyes and shows already excellent gaits, Prince Phillip is showing himself in a way that one should remember his name. Country Lady will not become Miss America but when the dance starts, many eyes will follow her.
What are our 3-year doing at the Miller-Ranch?
Velvet´s Pina Colada M.R. – Velvet´s Cashmere M.R. - Velvet´s Nabucco M.R..- Avatar M.R.
- Legend Outlaw´s BlackBerry M.R.- Leonard´s Amazone M.R.- Leonard´s Cuba Libre M.R.- Velvet´s Santiago M.R. .
At the top of the list is Velvet's Nabucco M.R. He seems to have inherited only the best from his father and mother. He fulfills all breeders’ wishes.
Nabucco, Cuba Libre and Amazone have already made their first day trail after being only a few days under saddle; Amazon after only the 2nd day. Horses and riders had much fun.
Ulrike Marx, also a participant from the September 2012 trail into the Monument Valley, came again for one week to the Miller-Ranch in November. She wanted to learn more about the training of horses especially about the “First Step”; the communication with the horse.
Leonard´s Amazone M.R. was her task and as one can see, she managed the task well.
What else has happened?
We saw much sunshine in Arizona, much cheerfulness and smiling faces at the ranch. Also the horses seem to be happy and content.
In November we finished the video with our trainee Sonja Matthaei on Velvet´s Papagena M.R.. It was only three days published on YouTube and Papagena had already found a new owner. Judy Nordquist from Colorado might be the lucky one on the waiting list. Because of the holiday, we had no chance of meeting in person and therefore she has an option until January 20.
She has already sent us pictures of the beautiful pasture where our beautiful and charismatic Papagena is going to live. Unfortunately that is difficult to show in a video.
The other two potential buyers on the waiting list for this mare might not have much of a chance.
Starting January 13, 2013 the Miller-Ranch crew will be in full swing again.
2012 is nearing its end; we are scrolling the calendar and are looking ahead at what the New Year 2013 might bring for us.
We from the Miller-Ranch extend to all our friends, customers and aficionados of the Missouri Fox Trotter our best wishes for peace and harmony during the holiday season. We also hope you will continue to have joy and fun as well as success with these wonderful horses.
Let us reflect on ourselves – Merry Christmas 2012.