We can see someone everyday in a business setting or even around town and think we really know that person. But usually this is not the case. There is often more than meets the eye to every individual relating to the whole of their being and why they are so nice to know. Take, for example, longtime Evergreen resident and Tall Grass owner, Gail Ridings…
Gail lived and worked in Chicago where she and her good friend, Nancy Bible, often talked about quitting their high-stress, corporate advertising marketing jobs, moving to Colorado, and embarking on a different career path. They agreed that living in the fast-lane wasn’t really living but merely existing as one day blurred into the next and the years passed by in a blink of an eye.
“I often wondered what I was doing with my life,” said Ridings. “One day I realized I was forty years old, living in Chicago, and I was kind of becoming a corporate barracuda—which I did not like!”
But it was her mother’s failing health that caused Gail to experience the epiphany that would redirect her life.
“When I was faced with my mom dying, I decided it was time to leave Chicago, go home to Kansas City and take care of her, and then figure out the rest of my life,” she explained.
Gail’s mom died in April 1995, and a month later she and Nancy made their first trip to Colorado. In June 1995, they found the Upper Bear Creek property that would soon become their Tall Grass Spa vision and opened their upscale health and therapeutic services facility (for women and men) in November of that same year. Gail bought out Nancy's share two years later.
After living here for numerous years, Gail met Chuck Ridings of State Farm Insurance through the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce. At the time, she was the Chair of the Evergreen Chamber Board and Chuck was coming in as a new Board member. After about an 18-month courtship, Chuck actually proposed to Gail on the day of her fiftieth birthday. Gail has loved horses ever since her dad and mom took her to a Colorado Dude Ranch and she experienced her first ride on a horse named “Pistol” when she was 2 years old.
She and husband Chuck share their home, the Lucky Penny Ranch, with Duke, Jet, and Jack Flash, their three gaited horses; their dogs (Pepper, Lilly, and Nutmeg); and their cats (Jake and Leo). Gail, a former Arabian horse lover, was introduced to Fox Trotter horses by Chuck whose family raised them when he was a young man living in Wyoming. “We’re really not sure what to call our 15-acres,” said Ridings. “It’s not real big like the Ponderosa Ranch,” she added, referring to the fictional 600,000 acre ranch on the (1959-1973) Bonanza television series. “It’s more like a ‘ranch-ette’.”
The couple is involved in Evergreen Rodeo, Intermountain Horse Council and a variety of other horse-related things where everyone knows each other. So when neighbor, Juliana Lehman, founder of the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank, asked Gail if she and Chuck would store hay for the organization and perhaps loan out their arena for some of the Foodbank’s fall fundraising events, the Ridings have been happy to do so.
Gail Ridings has come a long way from Chicago life and she enjoys her relaxed lifestyle here in our foothills. But, the biggest thing she wants everyone to know is how happy she is to be part of the Evergreen community.
“Evergreen is just so cool and we love supporting all the many area groups and nonprofits like the Evergreen Chamber, EAPL [Evergreen Animal Protective League], MALT [Mountain Area Land Trust], the Rotary, and all the rest,” said Ridings. “I have a very small family, no brothers or sisters, just my father who still lives in Kansas City. And, because neither Chuck nor I have any children, we really consider this community and its residents to be our family.”