WONDERING WHAT SANTA SHOULD BRING (or you should give to yourself…): The Dude Ranch Experience is the Bomb! – Take it from me, I’ve done it…






I’m your regular cross-garbing, weekend warrior trail rider who previously showed her horses and who previously fit into her tights a little better.

I have fancy, hotter horses, no Quarter Horses (yet).  Most of my headstalls are English and I ride bitless.
I don’t own any Cowboy boots and my saddles are kinda foo-foo.

I don’t think I fit into any category; but I’m definitely not the kind of gal you’d picture on a Dude Ranch.

Except…

One of the very best experiences of my riding life was on a Dude Ranch.

(You can read about it here.)

This is me in my non-ranchy wear, my endurance saddle and rented (fabulous) ranch horse, Fizz - loving every minute!

 

THE DUDE RANCH CHOICE

For sure you have to pick the right ranch for your type of dreamy experience.  Luckily, there are all types of Dude Ranches out there.  You can do the rough and tumble all week cattle drive OR you can choose the Equine/Spa experience where both you and your horse relax in foofey, overthetop luxury.

I just wanted nice showers.  I had to have a nice bathroom and shower.  That’s it.  Oh, and I didn’t want really hot desert riding.

 

John Varian of the V-6 Ranch.

 

I NEVER THOUGHT I’D LIKE TO GO TO A DUDE RANCH…

To be honest, I never, ever thought about attending any Dude Ranch.  Yeesh.  Nasty, tobacco spittin’ guys who think wimmin are all wusses.  I pictured using a sagebrush as a potty and eating salty, preservative infused jerky and acquiring some sort of body itch that I couldn’t cure.  For sure I was going to be the worst rider there…  And absolutely my horses would be the laughing stock.  I could picture the cows sniggering at my high stepping TWHs or Morgans.

No thanks.  Dude Ranches were not for me.

I didn't think I was the Dude Ranch 'type'...

 

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Lo and Behold, a misguided email ended up in my box.   It spoke of a bunch of local women who were getting together and renting a California Dude Ranch for a weekend.

Hmmmm.

I knew ‘of’ the women but I hardly knew any of them.  But, of what I did know, none of them were very intimidating or hard core.  All of them seemed like they just wanted to have a good time.  So, I was intrigued.  If they could do it, I could certainly do this.

So, I looked the ranch up on the Internet:  THE V-6 RANCH.

Hmmmm, again.  Looked nice.  Not too fancy but not too gritty, either.  The photos showed a beautiful ranch house and people of all ages alive and well.  Obviously they had survived the experience with a smile.  Hmmmm.   It wasn’t expensive, either.  Food included.  Wine, too.

I bit.  I signed up and paid before I could stop myself from thinking about it.

I was going…

One of the last large private ranches in California

BEST THING EVER

All I can say is that the weekend was the one of my best ever horse riding experiences.

I have made life-long friends and memories that will never fade.  I can still smell the fragrant morning air.  I can still feel my smile as I looked across the incredible landscape and I can still hear the Western movie soundtrack I played inside my head every time I emerged from my cabin and walked over to my horse… (I bet you can hear it now, too!)

The view outside my cabin

MY BEST ADVISE

Choose wisely and DON’T BRING YOUR OWN HORSE.

OK, bring your own horse if you are totally sure that your horse is remarkably fit and remarkably socialized.

For my two cents, after watching over 35 people struggle and feel embarrassed that their mount “wasn’t like he/she is at home.” thing…, I advise you to use a fully ‘been there, done that’ ranch horse.  These horses make the experience easy.

I rented a ranch horse and I think that is one reason why I loved every moment.  My mare was incredible.  I wanted to be her girlfriend at the end. I was sad that we wouldn’t be able to do lunch on another day.  I mean, she was TOUGH and strong and resourceful and agile and incredible but very honest and kind.  “All in a day’s work, ma’am.”  I wanted to buy her, she was that amazing.  I felt so secure on her that I just let my reins go and held on – figuratively.

 

Yum.

Gorgeous

 

I TOTALLY ENDORSE AND RECOMMEND V-6 Ranch (no affiliation although I wish there was…)

I had such a great time, I can fully recommend the V-6 Ranch.

Not only did I fall in love with the family that served every meal and set up all the activities; the environment had no pressure.  I could do whatever I wanted to do.  I didn’t have to be with the group.  And that was just fine.  Everything was just fine – especially the wonderful wine tasting we had one night.  MMMMM!

I still receive their email and this came yesterday so I thought I’d pass it on in case you wanted to treat yourself or ask Santa.

This is where I went... If you can, do it!

OTHER DUDE RANCHES

I don’t know anything about these other Dude Ranches but there are associations and websites all over to peruse.  You might want to find one in your area so I’ve listed a few internet ideas.  If you do go, please report back!!

I found:

DUDE RANCHERS ASSOCIATION

TOP 50 RANCHES

RANCHO LAS CASCADAS

Dude Ranch Association

Dude Ranch Association

 

IN CONCLUSION

I’m not saying that the Dude Ranch Experience is for everybody – but it could be.

I really believe that if you are into horses (in any way), you’ll love to see them in nature.  So, if you can, give yourself a treat and research the best ranch for your lifestyle – AND GO!

 

That’s me, waving. I had such a great time! Loved it.

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Only one comment so far...

  1. dawndi Post author

    From Robynne:
    Ahh, Hunewill Ranch in Bridgeport, CA, was a dream vacation for me! Even the photos on their website are fantastic. So glad you enjoyed yourself, we did, too! I highly recommend it. Thanks for sharing this!

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