Who We Are: Lynn Bauer shares connections with people, horses | SummitDaily.com

Who We Are: Lynn Bauer shares connections with people, horses

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Summit Daily/Mark Fox

DILLON – Lynn Bauer traveled America for six months in a Volkswagen camper van before stopping in Summit County with her husband, their 3-year-old son and a 50 pound dog.

It was 1971, and they had no jobs, money or place to live. Nearly 40 years later, Bauer has a barn full of horses with a school spanning generations of both equine and people.

“She has raised so many kids; she teaches them how to get along and share with others and care about others,” said Ellen French, a local friend. “She is just the most wonderful person.”

Bauer’s High Country Horsemanship School is just north of Interstate 70 at Dillon Valley. Most of the clients come by word of mouth.

Bauer said she teaches a range of ages how to ride and care for horses, but she most enjoys working with young kids.

“They’re just so excited about what they’re doing,” she said. “The smiles are huge, and they want to hang out all the time and shovel manure.”

The school usually has between 20 and 30 students, with numbers dwindling during winter months.

It may never have been started if Bauer had settled for Aspen the summer of ’71. The family had first stopped in Summit County on the way to Aspen, where they were considering settling.

“We spent about two hours in Aspen and came back here,” she said, adding that the locals in Summit made them feel more of a sense of community.

“The first people we met here were Max and Edna Dercum. Edna said, ‘Oh, you need to come here. We need good people,'” Bauer said.

The first couple months, she and her husband at the time had no job or place to live; they spent the first couple months in a campground on Swan Mountain Road.

Soon they got into the real-estate business – at a time when a license wasn’t necessary.

Bauer said her ex-husband “went to a model home and waited for somebody to come in … so we could have money.”

But the timing was great, and “real estate started to take off,” she said.

Having had a passion for horses since childhood, she got a horse named Princess.

Bauer’s first marriage ended in divorce, and when her son Rick Jones was about 16, he wanted to visit his father in California.

“I said, ‘You’re not going,'” she said, adding that she told her son he would need money for round-trip transportation.

By that time they had about four horses. She and Rick knew of a young girl interested in learning to ride, so the mother and son worked together toward what would become the school.

She agreed to split the money with Rick until he’d saved enough for his trip.

“Rick and I started that just as a fluke,” she said.

She remarried in 1979 to Jay Bauer, a Breckenridge attorney. The school opened in the early1980s.

They had leased property for 15 years before finding a partner and purchasing the land for the horses and barn.

Children were often drawn to the school after hearing about it from their friends.

Bauer recalls a 4-year-old – now in his mid-20s – who called wanting to ride horses.

“I said, ‘Come over and we’ll see,’ and he said, ‘Maybe we’ll have to wait until next year,'” she said, adding that the boy eventually came back and learned to ride.

The horses were a big hit, and they would frequent the parades in Frisco and Dillon as well as the county fair below Dillon Dam.

“We used to ride to the fairground, then we’d come up and we’d stop at the Dairy Queen,” she said.

Sometimes they’d take the horses through the drive-through at Wendy’s.

“Then the outlet stores came in,” Bauer said, adding that the motor-vehicle traffic made it difficult to ride comfortably.

The county fair eventually was discontinued as well.

French said the family of horses ran as many as three generations deep. She said that one time Bauer had left town for two weeks when a hiker had passed through the ranch, leaving the gate open.

On a moonless night, about 20 horses escaped through the gate into the national forest. A mare, “the matriarch of an extended family,” broke her leg, French said.

“While we were waiting for the veterinarian to get there, all her children and children’s children came out of the woods,” she said, adding that the relatives nuzzled the mare. “I don’t know how they knew. It was creepy in a nice way.”

Eventually they had to shoo the other horses away to put the injured one down.

French’s kids, former student’s of Bauer’s school, now haul the horses to events for her.

“She has just been such a wonderful influence not only on my children’s lives but my life as well,” French said. “She doesn’t teach just riding. She teaches taking care of the horse, interpersonal relationships… how to get along with people.”

Bauer continues to haul water – a couple hundred gallons’ worth – to the horses from her home across the highway each day. While “it’s a very labor intensive job,” she said there are often people around to help lend a hand.

SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.

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