Horseback Riding For Beginners at a Dude Ranch

November 23rd, 2015 by Ashlie Dove

Horseback riding can be both a thrilling and challenging experience since interacting with such a large animal requires a specific level of expertise and patience. When done properly, horseback riding can be exciting, therapeutic and relaxing all at the same time. There are studies that show that horseback riding is beneficial for intellectual and emotional processes. Also, you’ll gain an appreciation of the symbiotic relationship created between you and your horse.

horseback riding

Horseback riding is one of the main activities you can enjoy while on a dude ranch vacation. If you have never ridden a horse before, you can prepare yourself in advance before your trip. Horseback riding for newbies can seem a little bit daunting at first but once you get going you’ll catch on quickly. Here are some tips to help beginners get started:

1. Get a head start. Find an equestrian center or horse ranch in your area and get some practice time in the saddle  or lessons before your trip. Most dude ranches will give beginners some instruction but if you want to arrive ready to hop on a horse and ride, taking some lessons beforehand will allow you to get ahead of the game.

Riding Horses

3. Get proper riding attire. As a beginner rider, you must have a helmet specifically made for horseback riding. A riding helmet should be purchased since riding helmets covers more of the head and are designed to protect riders against falls while riding. Other types of helmets aren’t suitable for riding.

Boots needs to be flat-soled, pointed, and they should have a short heel, all to aid the simple removal of the boot from the stirrup in case anything goes wrong.

4. Prepare yourself mentally. It is very important that you are able to control your feelings while riding a horse. A relaxed and calm demeanor is best as your horse can sense the way you feel. If you lack confidence your horse will sense this and will be harder to control. Remember, your horse doesn’t know that you are a beginner so act confident and trust yourself and each other.

5.Prepare yourself physically. Strength and balance work together to help you relax and communicate with your horse so you can have the best ride possible. There are various exercises available that can help strengthen a rider and make them feel more secure in the saddle. Many of these can be found here

5. Start with an experienced horse. Once you start riding, it is very important that you begin with a very experienced horse so at least one of you understands the routine. As you become more comfortable in the saddle you will have the opportunity to ride horses more suited for experienced riders. As you do, you’ll soon realize they’re all different, just like people.

Experienced horses

Horseback riding for beginners is very exciting and with the proper training you will be able to enjoy all that this fun activity can offer you.

8 Signs You Need a Vacation

November 17th, 2015 by Ashlie Dove

Веtwееn wоrk, kids, house chores, a social calendar аnd еvеrуthіng еlsе in between lіfе саn сеrtаіnlу bе quite hесtіс. Аftеr а whіlе, уоu can stаrt tо fееl lіkе а rоbоt running on auto-pilot. Іt саn bе ехhаustіng and  mаkе уоu fееl оvеrwhеlmеd аnd rundоwn.

need a vacation

Еvеrуоnе nееds а lіttlе rеst аnd rеlахаtіоn frоm tіmе-tо-tіmе. Ѕоmеtіmеs, уоu јust nееd tо tаkе а brеаk frоm thе rеgulаr rоutіnе аnd focus on your happiness and wellness. Аftеr аll, уоu саn’t ехресt tо bе hарру whеn уоu аrе fееlіng run-dоwn аnd оvеrwоrkеd.

Ѕо, whаt’s thе bеst wау tо еаsе thе strеssеs аnd tеnsіоns thаt hаvе  mаdе уоu fееl sо оvеrwhеlmеd? Тhе bеst wау tо dо thіs іs tо tаkе а vасаtіоn.

Неrе’s а lооk аt sоmе оf thе surе-fіrе sіgns thаt уоu shоuldn’t іgnоrе thаt dеfіnіtеlу іndісаtе thаt уоu nееd tо tаkе а vасаtіоn.

8 Signs Іt’s Тіmе tо Рlаn а Vасаtіоn

1.)Do you feel more irritable, impatient and on edge that even thе smаllеst lіttlе thіng (lіkе а sрооn fаllіng оn thе flооr) becomes a huge issue and mаkеs уоu snар at others? If so, you may be overstressed and headed for burnout

Feeling irritable

2.)Аrе уоu аlwауs feeling tіrеd аnd rundоwn? Are you wаkіng uр mоrе ехhаustеd thаn уоu wеrе whеn уоu wеnt tо bеd even though уоu gоt рlеntу оf slеер? Do уоu fееl lіkе уоu аrе drаggіng уоursеlf аrоund every day and fееl lіkе уоu саn’t snар оut оf іt? Sounds like you have already burned out and need a recharge

feeling tired

3.)Are you making more mistakes at work? Chronic stress often leads to increased errors in the workplace and counterproductive work practices. Try to finish up any open projects while double and triple checking your work and then plan a vacation.

4.)Dо уоu fееl lіkе уоu јust аrеn’t hарру? Еvеn during tіmеs whеn уоu shоuld bе very hарру, уоu саn’t seem to fіnd thе јоy іn аnуthіng? Dо hоlіdауs, bіrthdауs, sреndіng tіmе wіth уоur lоvеd оnеs, оr еvеn јust sіttіng dоwn аnd trуіng tо rеlах sееm lіkе mоrе оf а chore  thаn sоmеthіng enjoyable? Іf sо, thеn іt’s рrоbаblу а рrеttу sаfе bеt thаt уоu nееd tо hаvе sоmе tіmе аwау.

Feeling unhappy

5.)Do you constantly have aches and pains in your body? Headaches? Back problems? Tightness in the shoulders. When people are in stressful situations their bodies release chemicals that trigger inflammation and increase their sensitivity to pain. It’s time to take a well deserved break.

6.)Do you have trouble sleeping? Stressed or overworked people tend to have trouble winding down and falling sleep and also feeling rested. This could lead to daytime sleepiness as well from the lack of sleep.

7.)Do you rеmеmbеr thе lаst tіmе уоu sаt dоwn аnd hаd а соnvеrsаtіоn wіth уоur sіgnіfісаnt оthеr оr уоur fаmіlу thаt dіdn’t hаvе tо dо wіth wоrk or chores, thеn іt іs аbsоlutеlу tіmе tо рlаn а vасаtіоn to spend lots of quality time with your loved ones.

family dinner

8.)Are you overindulging in food or alcohol? Many who are stressed will reach for their favourite comfort foods or drinks as a coping mechanism to get them through their days. This could lead to unhealthy addictions. It’s best to address the problem and take some time off.

Overeating & overdrinking

Іf аnу оf thе аbоvе dеsсrіbеs уоu аnd hоw уоu аrе fееlіng, thеn іt іs сеrtаіnlу tіmе thаt уоu stаrt thіnkіng аbоut рlаnnіng а vасаtіоn. Whеrе shоuld уоu gо аnd whаt shоuld уоu dо? Wеll, оnе аwеsоmе орtіоn іs tо go оn а dudе rаnсh vасаtіоn. Νоt оnlу wіll уоu hаvе thе орроrtunіtу tо hаvе а grеаt tіmе with your loved ones in the great outdoors and not have to worry about meals (they are included and many have gourmet chefs), You can also enjoy many different types of vacations from relaxing and pampering to adventurous and active! Search our database of dude ranches and start planning that well deserved break!

Be a Cowboy for a Week at a Working Ranch

November 11th, 2015 by Ashlie Dove

For your next vacation why not consider a working ranch. A working ranch differs from your typical guest ranch in that guests can choose to take part in a hands-on ranching experience as well as other fun activities.  If you have ever dreamed of being a cowboy or cowgirl then this is the ideal vacation choice for you. So grab a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and take a look at these two working ranches and book your vacation today!

Burnt Well Guest Ranch, Roswell, New Mexico 

Burnt Well Guest Ranch is an authentic working cattle and sheep ranch. They take on a few guests per year on the side to help supplement their ranching income. Because they can only accept small numbers this means that your vacation will be tailored to your needs. Whether you are an avid rider who would like to participate in actual ranch work or whether you are just a beginner who wants to work on your riding skills Burnt Well can accommodate you.

If you are looking to take part in a cattle drive be sure to contact the ranch in advance to see which dates are programmed for these events. They offer two types of working ranch vacations: Dude Ranch Style and Authentic “Old West” Style

On the Dude Ranch style cattle drive any number of cattle are driven from point A to point B. This drive could be from one to ten miles. You will typically sleep and eat most, if not all, meals at the ranch house. You may have the occasional sack lunch in the saddle bags. Since they are a working cattle ranch on 15,000 acres there is always plenty of cattle work to be done. The need to round up cattle and drive them various distances to pastures or pens could have you in the saddle from many miles and/or hours a day. The ranch can take about any age and any level of riding experience. This type of cattle drive is very common, if not the norm, at Burnt Well with most regular ranch stays.

New Mexico Cattle Drive

Burnt Well Guest Ranch

The Authentic “Old West” Style drives are a little more active for guests as you will camp out on the trail for at least three nights; however it can be four or five nights depending on the drive. You are usually in the saddle between five to ten hours a day. They start early, driving cattle by sun up and will try to be at camp by early afternoon. This drive can be between ten and fifteen miles a day depending on the location.

Burnt Well provide a “cowboy” bedroll very similar to the ones cowboys had to use on cattle drives. The bedroll is a three inch mattress made up with sheets and blankets and rolled in a tarp. (Those cowboys probably didn’t use sheets, but they did have a padded bedroll with blankets which was rolled up in a tarp to keep out the dust and rain). They also provide cots for those who are a little squeamish about being right on the ground. Burnt Well has plenty of “cowboy” teepees in case of inclement weather and an outdoor privy. Your comfort is in their best interest.

New Mexico Cattle Drives

Burnt Well Guest Ranch

Hot meals are cooked in a Dutch oven and over a campfire for breakfast and dinners. You pack your own lunch right after breakfast from the wide variety of choices laid out for .Nightly campfires, a blanket of twinkling stars on a New Mexico black velvet sky and sweet fiddle music are some of the things to be enjoyed on these drives.

The Authentic “Old West” Style cattle drives are adult drive only and for those who are in fairly good shape since you will be out on the range land for the duration of the drive. You will be actually driving cattle for miles and living out under the stars just as the cowboys did before trains and trucks came to being. At times the weather can be trying and unpleasant. This drive is for adventurous adults with plenty of stick-to-itiveness! The stuff memories, stories and bucket lists are made of.


Laughing Water Ranch, Fortine, Montana

During selected weeks in May and September adults can sign up for a cattle drive at Laughing Water Ranch. For the first few days you will only be trail riding so that you can get acquainted with your horse and make any needed adjustments. There will also be a “Cattle Clinic” to prepare you for what to expect once you join the herd. This is a great opportunity to see some breathtaking Montana scenery.

Then it’s time to get to work. Depending on the week you come out to the ranch, you will be rounding up, sorting, branding and moving cattle from their winter pasture to summer range in May or from summer range to the home ranch in September. The horses really love it and you’ll love it too. It gets you off the beaten path – chasing cows and calves that have their own ideas of when to stop, and where to go.

Montana Cattle Drives

Laughing Water Ranch

You will be working approximately 170 head of cattle. The cattle belong to their local Judge and rancher, Terry Utter. Terry will be joining everyone on the drives and he is as helpful as he is entertaining. After a day of working cows your appetite will be hearty and the camp cook will put out a spread like you can only get out west.

When the workday is done you will gather round the campfire for some entertaining story- telling and lots of laughter while you discus the day’s events. Guests will have the choice of either staying at night at cow camp, or returning each evening to the comforts of The Ranch. Cow Camp will be set up with spacious wall tents with comfortable cots. Remember to bring your sleeping bags, slickers, and sense of adventure!!!

Montana Cattle Drives

Laughing Water Ranch

So make sure to head to a dude ranch before its upcoming cattle drive. Search our extensive list of ranches by defining the ‘cattle drive’ criteria and book your spot before someone else nabs it.

Happy Trails!

What to Bring On a Dude Ranch Vacation

November 7th, 2015 by Ashlie Dove

A dude ranch, or a guest ranch, is a ranch that opens it’s doors to people for tourism purposes. Especially for first time visitors, many people have a little dilemma of what to pack. Well, here is a generalized list of items you should bring on your dude ranch vacation.

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa


Riding boots are an absolute must They should have a short heel which makes it comfortable for you to walk on uneven and rough terrain. They can be cowboy boots or another low heeled boot. Some dude ranches sell them  or offer a selection on site so ask beforehand. Some dude ranches have a formal dinner setting where you may need dressy shoes so confirm before you head out. Sneakers or runners are also recommended for other activities such as hiking or trail jogging. Some dude ranches have a pool or in the Summer months so flip-flops might be needed.

cowboy boots


Casual attire is widely accepted and encouraged at most dude ranches. Jeans are a necessity for many dude ranch vacation activities so be sure to pack a few pairs. Padded pants, like cycling shorts, for riding are also advisable, especially for beginner riders.

The other clothing you may pack will mostly depend on the weather and the season. If it’s Summer and the weather is bound to be hot and sunny, pack breathable light clothing. It will help to keep you cool but still protect you from the sun’s rays. Include light shirts, vests, shorts, jeans and light jackets. For protection from the hot elements bring a hat with a brim and sunglasses.

If it is Fall or Winter and predicted to be cool, pack some heavier clothing for warmth and layering. Include wool or fleece jackets, long sleeve shirts, long pants, scarves, gloves, hats and socks. If you plan to be outdoors riding or on an excursion, bring a something to cover and protect your ears. Rain coats should be packed if it is going to be rainy at the ranch.

Hats are essential to protect you against the heat from the sun. They should fit well to avoid being carried off in the wind, especially when riding. They don’t necessarily have to be cowboy or cowgirl hats, baseball hats can also work. Most dude ranches sell hats as well so it’s not necessary for you to carry one from home.


Gloves will be necessary if you plan to do a lot of riding or if you are attending a working ranch or cattle drive. Pick a pair that are made of flexible, but strong, leather.

If you are planning to do any swimming or working out at the dude ranch, make sure you bring the proper attire for those activities as well.

Personal Items

Seeing as it is a dude ranch vacation, a camera/video camera should tag along with you. Make sure it isn’t bulky because you may be carrying it with you on horseback and other excursions. Don’t forget to also bring the camera charger.  If you are planning on doing any bird watching or wildlife viewing a pair of binoculars will come in handy.

Other essentials include phone chargers, hair dryers. Some ranches supply hair dryers so ask first because If they do, that’s one less bulky item to carry.


Sunscreen and insect repellent are absolute musts for a dude ranch vacation. After being out in the sun or cold, keep your skin smooth with some moisturizer and chapstick. Depending on the dude ranch, you may need to bring your own shower items.

You should always try to stay hydrated at the ranch so also bring a water bottle that’s suitable for carrying around.

Lastly bring and open mind and your sense of adventure. You may be exposed to new things out of your comfort zone. Throw caution to the wind and try something new!

Should I Book a Guest Ranch Vacation?

November 4th, 2015 by Ashlie Dove

Heck ya you should book a guest ranch vacation for your next holiday! Guest ranches are a great choice for families, couples and solo travelers alike. With so many different destinations to choose from in the United States, Canada and Mexico how could you possibly go wrong? Here are just a few reasons why you should forgo the typical beach vacation in favour of a fun, western themed getaway.



This is probably the #1 reason to go to a guest ranch. Who doesn’t love the idea of saddling-up and exploring scenic vistas from atop a horse? It doesn’t matter whether you are a first time rider because qualified wranglers will teach you the basics so that you feel comfortable out on the trails. If you are an advanced rider many guest ranches will tailor exciting rides to match your experience level. Some guest ranches even offer overnight pack trips.

Horseback riding

Horseback riding

Multiple Activities to Choose From

Aside from horseback riding the majority of guest ranches offer a plethora of activities to choose from. You can hike or mountain bike on scenic trails, kayak or canoe on beautiful lakes, rent an ATV, try your hand at fly-fishing, learn a new skill like archery or rifle shooting, or zoom along a zip-line or participate in a cattle drive. These are just a few of the exciting activities that guest ranches offer. The possibilities are endless. Be sure to ask each guest ranch what activities they include.



The All-Inclusive Package

The majority of guest ranches utilize the “all-inclusive” vacation concept. This means that you pay upfront for your accommodations, meals and in many cases most of your activities are included too. There may be some additional costs but in general your vacation can be budgeted for in advance. You can also customize your vacation to suit your specific needs. Another added benefit is if you are a solo traveler many guest ranches don’t add an extra premium for single vacationers.

Spa-aaah Time

Just because you are staying at a guest ranch it doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in some quality me-time as well. Many guest ranches are considered spa destinations as well with qualified spa technicians available to cater to your every wish. After a day of riding there is nothing better than a relaxing massage to soothe sore muscles.  When booking your guest ranch vacation be sure to ask whether they offer spa services if that is on your vacation wish-list.

Spa Time

Spa Time

The Dining Experience

Meals can break or make a vacation! Guest ranches take pride in the food that they serve their guests. This can mean gourmet meals prepared by a culinary chef or simple hearty home-cooked meals that rely on old family favourite recipes. Whichever the case may be you will be treated to satisfying meals that will leave you asking for seconds. If you have special dietary concerns be sure to let your guest ranch know in advance so that they can accommodate your needs.

Hospitality at its Finest

A guest ranch isn’t part of a hotel chain. More often than not the guest ranch that you choose for your next vacation has a long, interesting, family history. You will be welcomed into their home as a guest but once you leave you will feel like family. Guest ranches are famous for their down home hospitality and in many cases they boast a high rate of returning guests.

Disconnect and Re-connect

A vacation at a guest ranch gives you the opportunity to disconnect from the digital world since many guest ranches are off the beaten path cell service isn’t always readily available; although, you can usually find somewhere on-site to access WiFi if need be. Disconnecting from the digital world allows you and your loved ones to re-connect with each other and your surroundings and isn’t that what a vacation should be all about?

Re-connect with nature

Re-connect with nature

Kid-friendly Programs

Many guest ranches have special programs tailored specifically for your kids. Aside from being fun they are often educational as well. This gives parents a chance to participate in more adult orientated activities or perhaps indulge in a relaxing spa treatment or simple enjoy some time together as a couple. Parents can feel comfortable knowing that their children are being taken care of by responsible staff members and most importantly that their little-ones or not so little-ones are meeting new friends and having a blast.

Specialty Weeks

Throughout the year guest ranches usually offer specialty weeks. Depending on the ranch this could include girls’ only weeks, cattle drives, horsemanship clinics, artistic events, culinary events, adults’ only weeks and of course special holiday celebration weeks. Be sure to ask what events and specials are offered during the year at the guest ranch that you are interested in for your next vacation.


These are just a few of the reasons that when you next decide to pack your bags you should consider choosing a guest ranch as your vacation destination. RanchSeeker can help you find the perfect guest ranch for you!

Happy Trails!