I have a story to share with you. It’s about me and a horse, a Mustang to be specific, who picked me out of a crowd.
I am a volunteer member of the Boise BLM District’s Resource Advisory Council, a committee that meets regularly to learn about issues and actions the Boise District BLM is facing and provide input. Early this past summer 2016, as part of that committee I was able to tour a new BLM Off-Range Holding Facility for wild horses in Bruneau, ID. It’s a well thought-out, well-designed facility for holding horses too old for adoption or otherwise less likely to be adopted. The intent is to hold them there until they can be sent to long-term holding facilities back East.
From my perspective the BLM does an amazing job of caring for its wild horses. This Off-Range Facility has 2000+ horses which all get food and water along with regular vaccinations, hoof trimming, and de-worming and they are all held in large pens. It’s better than what we sometimes see in private homes as they are seemingly in good health with very few injuries. But still, as you know, it’s no way for a creature to live out its life. Like with puppies and kittens, it’s quite the strong argument for not breeding horses but rather adopting ones that are already here.
So back to me and my BLM tour of the Holding Facility in Bruneau. The tour was quite interesting and as we were going along it was only natural for me to admire the horses, so many nice-looking ones with good confirmation. That’s when I saw Stellar. She was in lucky Pen 13 which held all older mares. I was struck by her kind, calm eye and beautiful long mane all in dreadlocks. As I reached out to touch her, I realized she wasn’t frightened of me like most wild horses. I touched her face, tentatively at first, then her ears, neck, shoulders… she stood next to the fence with her eyes half closed, craving attention as I scratched her withers.
I left her side to continue on with the tour but soon realized she was following me, begging for more attention and pushing other horses out of the way so she could stand as close to me as possible, quietly waiting for me to notice her again.
What are the chances that I’d go on a tour and have a horse pick me?
Fast forward: July 25, Stellar came home with me and I’ve been working with her as much as possible since then. Each day last summer and up until the snow started flying in December, I worked regularly with her. From day one she’s been calm, kind, and so appreciative of attention. So far — with instruction from others more knowledgeable than I — and in less than eight weeks I taught her to halter, lead, be groomed, move body parts, stand tied, pick up her feet, be saddled, bridled, ground driven with long lines, trailer loaded, hosed off, be ponyed (walk, trot and even lope).
She’s learned how to stand to have her hooves trimmed and she’s had dental work and vet care. I’ve even begun riding her. It’s been a blast, an amazing journey I never expected to experience.
I look forward to sharing Stellar with you! Come meet Stellar and the rest of the gang at Sweet Pepper Ranch. In addition, if we can provide you and your horses a comfortable place to stay it would be our pleasure. We have room for horses and their people — plus we offer get-away vacations for equestrians, riding lessons and clinics, and training for those wanting to learn about sustainable horse keeping practices.
AND — if you are interested in Mustangs we can help you with that as well! Literally thousands of beautiful horses with good confirmation and color are available to chose from — many are kind-looking horses like my Stellar. These Mustangs are available for adoption from the BLM to approved homes for a mere $125. We can help hand lead you through the process (it’s easy!) Matt Livengood, my husband and co-manager here at Sweet Pepper Ranch, is an approved Mustang Heritage Foundation trainer available to help you pick out a specific horse and get it gentled or trained.
If you’d like to know more about Sweet Pepper Ranch — or Mustangs — please contact us! Until then Stellar and I look forward to meeting you here at Sweet Pepper Ranch.
Happy New Year everyone from Sweet Pepper Ranch! I want to take a few minutes to thank those of you visited us this past year—and to let the rest of you know we are looking forward to having you in our future! Matt and I are grateful for you trusting the care of your horses to us. We enjoy providing a healthy, restful experience for both horses and humans here at Sweet Pepper Ranch.
You might like to know about some of the updates we’ve made recently and plan to do in the near future at Sweet Pepper Ranch:
- Expanding our trail obstacle course. We are looking forward to utilizing all corners of our property with unique, interesting and fun trail obstacles. Materials and plans are in the works for log crossings, a water crossing, a balance beam, a teeter, another gate for opening, a deep ditch, a raised back through—and more!
- Setting up a second round pen for situations where our 70′ round pen is a little too big or when we need two round pens.
- Setting up an electronic cow, for practicing working cows.
For relaxing during your visit here we still have our solar-heated swimming pool, evening bon fires, horse shoe pit, practice roping calf, back patio and wi-fi.
Other venue options available this year include lessons, and property rental for other events. Also arena rental and haul-ins are welcomed. Please contact Alayne for questions on this.
On the esthetic/conservation front, those of you who visited this year might have noticed our xeric (drought-tolerant) wildlife friendly landscaping project in the front yard. We are continuing to work on that, expanding to other parts of Sweet Pepper Ranch. This will lower our water usage, blend in with the surrounding natural landscape and provide a little habitat for native animals such as birds, reptiles and invertebrates. We are quite pleased with what we accomplished this past year!
Photos from this past year are up on the Sweet Pepper Ranch website—look under Photo Album 2014. If you visited this year you might just see your photo there! Like us Facebook for more timely updates.
Sweet Pepper Ranch gift certificates are always available, for any amount. If you are shopping for that hard to gift person please keep us in mind. We look forward to serving you and working with you in 2015.
Alayne and Matt
Now is prime time to begin dreaming up plans for next summer’s vacation – let Matt and Alayne at Sweet Pepper Ranch help you with that. Bring your horses and come for a high desert getaway, be it a few days or a week. Or ride one of our well-trained reining horses. Or just come enjoy the beautiful high desert area and all of the diverse opportunities—from rural, agricultural to desert mountains and wild horses!
Sweet Pepper Ranch is gearing up for next summer’s fun. Recent additions and new plans for Sweet Pepper Ranch include:
- An improved trail course which bridges, hills, ditches, obstacles, tires, gates and more!
- Two new, large turn-out areas for horses.
- New gardens with raised beds—for yummy meals.
- A solar heated swimming pool—a warmer pool earlier in the year!
- Horse shoe pit for downtime.
- The fire pit means relaxing at night under the stars is always a great plan.
- Also available for corporate retreats or other special occasions offering a beautiful outdoor ranch setting.
At Sweet Pepper Ranch we offer the following:
- Cowgirl/Cowboy Getaways—come for a long weekend or a week!
- Bed & Breakfast
- Work & Learn opportunities
- Horse Motel—traveling with equines? We can accommodate up to 10 or more horses/evening
- Trail rides and gourmet trail rides
- Venue for dinners, corporate trainings or other special occasions offering a beautiful outdoor ranch setting and opportunities to involve our horses
Annie on Barney
2013 Homedale Rodeo
Want more details?
Cowgirl (& Cowboy!) Weekend Getaways
Welcome to horse camp for adults! Arrive on a Thursday, leave on a Sunday—three nights and two full days of riding, relaxing, learning, visiting and enjoying good food and good company. Bring your horse or ride one of our well-trained reining horses.
If you are here on the Cowgirl/Cowboy Getaway, we usually assign guests their “own” horse, one of the well-trained Sweet Pepper Ranch reining horses, for your stay here. Depending on your interests and abilities you can participate in their care and feeding as well as other ranch activities, such as bucking hay, mowing fields, harrowing or other tasks.
Experience a bit of ranching by observing some of the work that goes on from haying, cleaning stalls and paddocks, harrowing arenas, mowing fields, turning out horses, building shelters and fences or irrigating pasture to name just a few chores. During the day you can relax with a swim in the pool or by night sit at our fire pit and listen to the howl of coyotes while watching stars twinkle.
Pitch in to experience ranching responsibilities which might include haying, cleaning stalls and paddocks, harrowing arenas, mowing fields, turning out horses, building shelters and fences or irrigating pasture to name just a few. Relax with a swim in the pool or by night sit at our fire pit and listen to the howl of coyotes while watching stars twinkle.
Horses & riding
Depending on what you would like we can ride once or twice a day. We have three guest horses for trail rides. We can arrange for you to work cows. We have a trail course on our property and a few other fun things like horse soccer (a big ball that you kick around while horseback.) We will have ranch chores for you and your own assigned horses for you to care for.
Please inquire as to dates and availability. Cowgirl Weekend Getaways are usually Thursday to Sunday, but we are flexible so if that timeframe doesn’t work, suggest something and we’ll do our best to accommodate.
We have beds for 5 people (2 double beds & one single.) When we have extras we can either set up an air mattress in a room (crowded, probably best for kids) or we set up a nice tent outside by the pool with cots & camping furniture.
Matt enjoying dessert!
Trail Rides & Gourmet Trail Rides
Enjoy a trail ride on one of our highly trained and experienced reining horses. Tour sights and scenes from the Old West which include may viewing raptors or coyotes, ancient geology and petroglyphs, desert plants or other interesting natural history. Gourmet Trail Ride—ditto above but add in a relaxing picnic spread either during or after your ride!
Here are some of the trails we can take you:
Celebration Park a is beautiful desert park along the Snake River with petroglyphs, raptors, gold miners’ old rock cabins, a lake and waterfall—lots of history and beautiful scenery. Wilson Creek in the Owyhee Mountains has thousands and thousands of acres of BLM land, as well as wild horses (BLM mustangs) which live there. Kuna Butte is a great local spot to go for an evening trail ride and watch the sun set. All of the riding destinations listed on the Sweet Pepper Ranch website are wonderful and unique.
Bed & Breakfast
Traveling through the area—with or with your horse? We have to guest rooms available, with a shared bath. The Northwest Room, with décor from Alaska to the Pacific Northwest, has a large comfy Queen bed. The Country Room has a double bed with a single day bed and a desk. WiFi and pool are available to overnight guests.
Ranch breakfasts are usually served pool-side and include special egg dishes, pastries, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, juice. We also have a refrigerator for guests, so if you want to make your own lunches or keep some cold drinks on hand you are welcomed to use it. Check out the amenities here.
Local restaurants are wonderful and many use locally grown, sustainable produce. A few close by that we like to recommend include: Brick 29 Bistro which uses local produce and has live music on M, Tu & Wed evenings. Copper Canyon has fabulous food and is located on a golf course. If you like sushi, you’ll LOVE Simple Sushi—fresh, beautiful and delicious! Looking for something quick and easy? Messenger Pizza offers a campy, fun atmosphere with gourmet pizza by the slice. Folks travel from all over SW Idaho to go to El Gallo Giro which is just a few miles away in Kuna. The Orchard House is sooo yummy—outside dinning with an incredible view and breakfasts to die for! Epi’s Basque Restaurant is a Basque eating experience—go hungry!! Call ahead for reservations as they only seat a small group each night but it’s wonderful food and you’ll leave feeling like you’re family. Many, many more wonderful places to eat, especially in downtown Boise.
Now offering tent camping site, too!
Sweet Pepper Ranch now offers tenting areas for overnight campers. Your tent—or ours. Drift off to sleep to the sound of horse munching on hay while stream-side, near the garden, by the pool or anywhere on our beautiful hay field.
Sweet Pepper Ranch is also available for special events. Please inquire for rates and availability.
At Sweet Pepper Ranch experience some of the Old West while enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Please let us know if there are questions we can answer. Matt and Alayne look forward to having you as a guest next year at Sweet Pepper Ranch!
It’s not too early to start planning and thinking about next year. With the holidays coming up, think about giving the gift of an experience—or adding a visit to Sweet Pepper Ranch to your own “wish list!” There are many different ways you can experience Sweet Pepper Ranch: as a small-scale personalized guest ranch, an overnight bed and breakfast or as a horse motel. Bring your own horse or ride one of our kind, highly trained reining horses. Come for a Cowgirl Weekend Getaway—or stay for a week of adventures. Check out the website to see lots of smiles from past guests —be sure to all the way scroll down!
Suggested dates and themes are listed on the website, but you are welcomed to come up with your own dates and ideas. Peruse our website for photos and ideas that lift your spirit. Let us know what interests you and we’ll do the rest. Upon your arrival we’ll have your curriculum planned for you, all you do is enjoy. Do you like rodeos? Herding dog trials? Street fairs? Vineyards and wine tasting? Breweries? Nice restaurants? Basque or Mexican food? Train rides? Golf? Rafting or fishing? Birding? Would you like to ride through the desert with its beautiful muted pallet of colors and interesting rock formations? Or maybe a trailride with the cool mountain breeze and whisper of evergreens? Tell us your dreams and we’ll do our best to make it happen.
One truly unique and relaxing nearby activity you can enjoy while staying at Sweet Pepper Ranch is a farm-to-fork dinner, such as ones held at Peaceful Belly Farm, an ecologically sustainable urban farm featuring certified organic produce. Enjoy a spectacular meal paired with local wines in the most exhilarating of outdoor settings.
And don’t forget riding—opportunities are endless here, whether it’s a moonlight trail ride or a ride to see wild horses, we got you covered in a fun, safe “horse camp” atmosphere tailored for adults. We also offer work/study opportunities for folks who want to learn green horse keeping. And for horsey folks traveling through the area, we have a safe, convenient place to spend the night for both horse and owner—and pets!
Carve out some special time for you and friends or family for next sumer next year and start dreaming!
Alayne and Matt
December 2011 at Sweet Pepper Ranch
This past summer was the most amazing summer of my life—four months of sunny, dry weather! After 25 years in Western Washington, this is a pretty dramatic weather change living here in Southwestern Idaho. I’ve had to learn to relax and not look over my shoulder wondering if tomorrow will bring clouds and rain. It’s exhilarating to go about outside life each day enjoying it, not worrying that it may be the last nice weather day for a while.
If you’re familiar with Horses for Clean Water, you’re probably familiar with our farm tours. Well, after 20+ years (wow—that’s a long time, eh?) I’m gearing up for the ultimate farm tour, one where folks come to visit me and stay at our place, Sweet Pepper Ranch. We’re becoming part of agri-tourism with our new guest ranch and horse motel.
In case agri-tourism is a new word for you, allow me to explain: agri-tourism is an agriculturally-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. Our vision for Sweet Pepper Ranch also has ecotourism or geotourism principals which extend tourism to incorporate nature, ecology and sustainability, focusing on a place as a whole and celebrating the land and the culture of a region. These varieties of tourism focus on being low-impact and are a small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism.
So how ‘bout a brief, virtual farm tour of Sweet Pepper Ranch? You can follow along on our website, www.SweetPepperRanch.com. Inside our modest ranch house we have guest rooms with large windows and ceiling fans (our high mountain desert climate cools off nicely at night!) decorated with real western art, log furniture and a fireplace for chasing away winter chills. Outside there’s a pool for cooling off on hot summer days and a fire pit with benches for star gazing at night. And speaking of stars—there are so many here it’s mind-boggling! You’ll be amazed to see what getting away from the bright lights of the big cities can show you. The agricultural community around us is fun to explore and has lots of food to offer—we’ve found we can find organic and locally produced ingredients for our guests’ meals right in our own neighborhood.
I should be sure to mention that our horses are doing well in their big barn with sand paddocks, enjoying the high desert life. All of them (except RB who’s retired now) get ridden regularly in our 250′ x 150′ outdoor arena and 66′ round pen. During the summer Matt and I ride three to six horses daily. The dogs, Rikki and Saylee, love the trail rides where they can run to their hearts’ content, exploring rivers and mountains.
We’re surrounded by BLM land, so trail riding opportunities are endless and just a short trailer ride away. The names of our favorite riding places are reminiscent of the Old West: Sinker Creek, Kuna Butte, Wilson Creek and Celebration Park, just to name a few.
Around the ranch we’re working on green projects like weed removal (ugh—green removal means long hours of pulling weeds by hand!) and gopher control by encouraging rodent-eating wildlife like barn owls and kestrels. We’re excited to have a barn owl box in place now (it looks like a dog house up on a pole!) There’s more non-toxic insect control with bats (a bat box) and swallows (several swallow nest boxes). We’re also still using fly predators; stingless nocturnal beneficial wasps that seek out and destroy fly larvae by laying their eggs in them. We’ve begun to establish dust and erosion control by reseeding bare, dryland areas with native grasses and flowers. For mud control we’re planting along slopes to help “slow the flow” of rainwater during winter storm events.
Our burgeoning native hedgerow greets visitors as they drive through our front gate. We hope this area and other plantings we’ve done will attract local wildlife like quail, raptors, foxes, marmots, rabbits and a host of small critters. We raise our own grass hay using only compost and good pasture management techniques like rotational grazing. This year, our first full year of haying, we got three cuttings, about seven tons total off of our six-acre hay field.
So what’s in a day’s work for us? Well, besides our “day jobs” we ride eight horses, mow pastures, irrigate, install new fencing for confinement areas, continue to finish the inside of the barn, build new shelters, install footing in paddocks… visitors are always
welcome to to pitch in with any of these chores!
We’ve done lots of planning and have many fun ideas in place for entertaining our guests—from visiting rodeos and wineries to trail rides at sunset near waterfalls or across high deserts. There are wildlife refuges to visit, hot springs to relax in, wilderness mountains to hike, scenic rivers to raft, railways to travel along—and so much more. Our location boasts North America’s largest concentration of breeding raptors, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
For those of you just passin’ through—don’t forget our horse motel and short-term boarding. We also offer a B&B for those looking for a nice place to sleep and a ranch breakfast.
Our 2012 Cowgirl Weekend Getaway dates are posted (cowboys welcome, too!) with their suggested themes. Photos of this year’s guests are up (be sure to scroll all the way down!) We’re brimming with ideas and can’t wait for you to join us in 2012 at Sweet Pepper Ranch in sunny Southwestern Idaho for your ultimate farm tour.
For now we wish you all Happy Holidays and may your coming year be filled with wonder and be touched by peace.
Alayne & Matt
Join us this year and take advantage of our special introductory rates.
Sweet Pepper Ranch, located in the Treasure Valley of southwestern Idaho, is an unpretentious, “green” horse keeping operation. We raise reining horses and grass hay and work hard every day to exercise and train our horses as well as run the day-to-day aspects of an environmentally sensitive ranch. The Treasure Valley, part of the larger Snake River Valley, experiences the wonderful high desert climate of hot, dry days and cool evenings—perfect for riding, swimming and enjoying the outdoors!
Sweet Pepper Ranch offers a guest ranch and horse motel B&B. Traveling through the area? You and your horse have a safe, convenient place to spend the night (dogs are welcomed, too.) If you are looking for a vacation spot with your horse, we can be that! Maybe you’d like to work on a ranch and learn about green horse keeping practices? Then Sweet Pepper Ranch is for you! Our Cowgirl Weekend Getaways are a feature we offer in the summertime which include a unique, tailor-made horse adventure for you—bring your horse or ride one of our well-trained reining horses at a “horse camp” just for adults.
We look forward to having you and your horse visit us!