What Makes Our Riding Program Unique
At the Elk River Guest Ranch, we understand that every person has unique needs and desires when it comes to horseback riding on their vacation. Our goal is to provide guests with a safe experience that is personalized and helps meet the aimed objectives of our riders while providing the best possible vacation experience we can.
The guests that come to the Elk River Guest Ranch cover a full spectrum of riding abilities. From never ridden to advanced levels of showing and competing, our guests come from many different backgrounds. Further, different people have different interests. We have those only interested in seeing beautiful scenery from on top of a horse, some that are along for the riding because another member of the family is very interested in horses, and some that are looking to improve their skills while they’re out on the trails with us. There are 'destination' riders and there are 'journey' riders.
To begin the week, we give all of our riders (beginner to advanced, return guests or new guests, young and old) the same horseback orientation. We give everyone an opportunity to learn or refresh their memory of four main categories of riding: 1) horses’ nature; 2) mounting and dismounting; 3) how to ride (control, posture, balance); 4) trail etiquette.
This helps ensure that we all move forward with a working knowledge of the basics of horseback riding. From this point, everything we do becomes very individualized. And, whether you’re out on a ride in a small group or riding one-on-one with the wrangler, you have the ability to interact with an experienced wrangler to continue to grow your skills.
For ‘destination riders’ who are looking to see more scenery and not necessarily focus on skills building, we take rides to certain locations based on what you'd like to do.
For ‘journey riders’ who are more interested in skills building, we start with the known and build upon that with the new. Starting with a strong foundation of the basics for beginner riders, we can then build up as folks are ready to progress to new skills. Among the skills that most of our riders enjoy learning are control of the horse at different gaits, posting the trot, balance at the lope, moving around obstacles and different conditions, gaining more horse behavior knowledge, understanding pressure and release techniques, smooth transitions between gaits, more complex leg and seat aids, and improving the seat at the trot and canter.
For advanced riders who come with a great knowledge of these skills, we have the ability to take more advanced rides. On many occasions these trail rides involve faster paces, more advanced terrain and/or longer duration rides.
Just as the beginner and advanced riders progress as their abilities and desires allow, the same holds true for more intermediate riders. This individual may be more inclined toward journey or destination rides, more instructional or less.
All of our wranglers are experienced horse people. They have different backgrounds and unique riding experiences. What binds them together is their strong desire to help our guests have an incredible vacation, help our guests have awesome horseback riding experiences, and to keep our guests safe. They treat animals and people kindly, have outgoing and helpful personalities and are eager to serve.
Our horses are as unique as our guests. They all have different personalities, different ranks in the pecking order within the herd, and different traits that make them suitable for different riders. When matching horses with riders, we take into account a rider’s personality (assertive, calm demeanor, anxious, soft or hard hands, aggressive, etc.) in addition to one's experience, weight, height, and age. We recognize that there are many facets to that bond between horse and rider and hope to make a match that promotes a great experience for both.