The last resort

People honor lineage in many ways. When it comes to riding styles, LuAnn Goodyear’s preferences are respected over decades.

The Brush, Colo., native was raised in Fort Collins, Colo., spending even her earliest years around horses. Curiously, neither of her parents was particularly horsey. They did, however, undeniably recognize their little daughter’s passion when she snuck into the Colorado State University Bull Farm. Then on Elizabeth Street, all of CSU’s riding horses were stabled there.

The bold and determined 6-year-old waited until the coast was clear. She then climbed up on each and every horse in the place for “free rides.” After that episode, her solo activities were probably carefully monitored. In 1960, when she was 9, she was allowed to take official lessons at CSU.

There was no turning back — all things equestrian became her lifelong avocation, then a career path. This included forming and leading her own 4-H club, Owl Canyon Vaqueros, from 2007-2011. Those same years, she served as 4-H Horse Program Coordinator for all of Larimer County.

During that same time, she was instrumental in getting the Working Ranch Horse Competition into the Larimer County and the Colorado State fairs.

Among many duties, Goodyear organized the “Prepare For Fair” clinics for all riding disciplines. She trained both the youth and adult horse leaders. She was a Level IV Horse Levels Rater for English, Western and Working Ranch Horse for the entire state of Colorado.

LuAnn Goodyear with Paint mare, Cid, and bay mare, Bella. Goodyear will ride Bella in Joe Wolters' August 2022 clinic. Courtesy photo

In 1995, Goodyear built a large boarding facility on County Road 19 in Fort Collins. But, just three years later, she sadly sold her dream place as part of a 1998 divorce settlement.

Not one to let grass grow under her feet… well, except maybe alfalfa, timothy and the like … it took just three more years before Goodyear found the perfect spot for her self-declared “ultimate” boarding barn.

The 80-acre property on West County Road 70 (flat land, known higher up as Owl Canyon Road) was initially void of structures. So, as she had on CR 19, Goodyear DIY-planned this intense project in every way, from the ground up, including drawing the blueprints herself. Construction began in 1999.


Goodyear’s monumental building efforts caught the attention of a neighbor just to the south. The late 1990s brought with them a plethora of transplants who’d ditched million dollar homes in California, that beachy Pacific west but far less peaceful state.

Yes, their fancy flip-flops thundered east to Colorado, buoyed by Rocky Mountain-high dreams of lower crime rates, lighter traffic flows, and easy living. Sans jobs, but loaded down with tons of money they’d acquired from their expensive real estate sell-offs, they paid cold, hard cash for new homes or bare land. Prices here back then were comparably cheap, cheap, cheap.

Arabian X Quarter Horse gelding, Snickers, shares a moment with owner LuAnn Goodyear, owner of Last Resort Equestrian Center. Courtesy photo

So, Goodyear’s miffed Mr. Neighbor was less than pleased as he drove past the flurry of construction activity within a stone’s throw of his land. Hmm. Perhaps this new place would make a dandy final resting place for a departed skunk? McMillan pondered a plan.

He would trespass into her brand new indoor arena some dark night, accompanied by a dead, ripe polecat. He’d then return home, leaving the poor black and white, lifeless creature behind to greet the new property owner’s stuck-up, offended nose the following morning.

Before McMillan could carry out his stealthy invasion, he personally met Goodyear and realized that, to his relief, she was a down-to-earth, friendly, local gal.

Goodyear now loudly laughs to recall her initial meeting with this Tom McMillan fellow. He was a Colorado native, his dad head of the Larimer County Extension Office. He’d been irked about this supposed “snooty rich Californian” re-settling nearby. But it all ended well with no skunk, no confrontation, no range war.

LuAnn Goodyear, right, and her good friend “Crazy Hair” Lisa Wilson outside the spectator area watch the 2021 Buck Brannaman clinic at Last Resort Equestrian Center. Courtesy photo

“We’ve bought a lot of hay from Tom over the years,” his good friend and neighbor Goodyear reported with a chuckle.

Over those same 23 years, that neighborly hay has fed horses at Last Resort Equestrian Center (LREC), as Goodyear dubbed her full-service boarding facility. Currently, 10 people and their 24 horses enjoy its wide variety of training and pleasure riding accoutrements. Word-of-mouth fills stalls long before any openings could ever possibly be advertised.

The large tan barn with a dark green roof is the center of LREC activity. A white with blue trim indoor arena (still skunk-free) welcomes riders into its spacious 80 X 144 feet, a blessing in Colorado’s high winds, winter cold or blazing summer sun.

Outside are a round pen and a 125 X 225 foot arena. Lovely bridle paths ring the entire 80-acre property. For those yearning for yet more space, there’s access to a 32-acre conservation area owned by the U.S. Federal Government.

Buck Brannaman clinic riders enjoy good footing at Last Resort Equestrian Center's outdoor arena. Courtesy photo


One particular resident likes to make her own way around the LREC property. Her owner boards beautiful, black Fiona and three other Bureau of Land Management mustangs there. When lusting after lusher grasses, Fiona mysteriously transforms from normal horse into Uber-Agility Mare (UAM).

Somehow, she drops to the ground unnoticed and slinks/crawls/rolls out of the hot-wire fencing without ever once bringing it down. She just ends up nibbling her chewy choices in the front yard, contented to be a BLM mare endowed with UAM Spidey senses.

Last Resort Equestrian Center offers a spacious, weather-resistant indoor arena for events such as this Buck Brannaman clinic. Courtesy photo


Again, it’s about lineage. Goodyear’s ongoing esteem for a particular training style began in 1993 with the acquisition of Kit, a problem gelding. She wanted him for a reliable hunter-jumper but what she got instead was a consistent bucker.

Someone she knew sent her a video introducing her to a trainer named Buck Brannaman. Maybe his advice would help. Well, Goodyear never did get Kit over his heels-over-head vice.

“I didn’t have the skills or confidence,” she honestly admitted.

She instead applied Brannaman’s training tips to her Arabian gelding, Rosh, and happily competed in hunter-jumper classes.

In 1994, Goodyear started riding in Brannaman’s Colorado clinics in Steamboat Springs, Longmont and Granby. There she learned ranch style cow work (just for fun) and big loop ranch roping (in which she competed).

Buck Brannaman demonstrates a training technique at a clinic at Last Resort Equestrian Center. Courtesy photo

In 1997, she started hosting Brannaman’s clinics at LREC and counts him among not only her business contacts but as a good friend for the past 25 years.

“I have a heart and a passion for quality horsemanship,” declared Goodyear, adding that Brannaman’s methods develop those traits built on trust and relationship between rider and horse. No gimmicks, just true horsemanship.

She recently hosted her annual Buck Brannaman Clinic on May 20-22, 2022 at CSU’s Pickett Arena. For those who missed it, there’s an upcoming event of similar content.


Although all spots are filled for riding participants, spectators are welcomed to attend Joe Wolters’ clinic, Aug. 12-14 at LREC. Lineage again, as Wolters also adheres to the Vaquero style of horsemanship starting with Bill and Tom Dorrance to Ray Hunt to Buck Brannaman to Joe Wolters.

Vaquero methods came from Spaniards, said Goodyear, through Mexico to make a proper bridle horse. Specific types of equipment that are employed (Spanish bits, braided leather riatas rather than poly lariats, etc.) are all of the Vaquero style.

The cattle used at Wolters’ August clinic will be provided by Larry Flemming, a friend of Goodyear’s from Hudson, Colo.

In the clinic, Goodyear will be riding Bella, a nice 5-year-old Quarter Horse mare she’s starting. Bella is a granddaughter of Playboy.

The $30 per day per spectator fee for the Joe Wolters Clinic is payable upon arrival. Bring your own comfy lawn chair, but there will be a concession stand.

For more information about future clinics, call LuAnn Goodyear at (970) 690-1854.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User