Yes, going on every trail and reaching every destination Elk River Guest Ranch offers would take quite a bit of time and horseback stamina. The diversity of trails we have to ride, from long to short, steep to mellow, and advanced to beginner, offers a little bit for everyone, and there's no need to feel like you have to fit it all in in one week--just gives you even more reason to come back to visit us!
For most guests, we suggest fitting in at least one of these epics into your vacation. However, if you're only with us for a three or four night stay, it may be worth saving these for your longer vacation trip to the ranch as there are lots of other adventurous activities worth partaking in in addition to horseback riding.
This guide was edited from its original version by the Hinders, who previously operated the Elk River Guest Ranch. It's a great guide for preparing for your horseback ride at the ranch, and I stumbled upon the guide cleaning out the basement. The Van Cleve Family, the original authers, own the Lazy K Bar Ranch in Big Timber, Montana. It's the oldest operating dude ranch in Montana and is celebrating its 90th year.
1) You're taken seriously and get a horse that matches your experience level.
Before you ever go out riding with us, we have a step-by-step guide on how to rate yourself. And, whether we gather that information over the phone or via email, we try to get the best sense of your personality, what you'd like out of a horse (temperament, not color), and how you'd rate yourself as a horse person. We're not perfect every time, but doing our homework helps ensure that your steed is going to match you pretty well.
2) We don't just throw you up there and tell you to hang on for dear life.
Before your ride, Bex or one of her trusted wranglers, will give you a short horse orientation. It's not meant to bore you but instead to give you tips on how to make your ride more safe and enjoyable. Not every place you ride will be the same. Some folks teach plow reining and some teach neck reining...wouldn't it be nice to know how to steer your horse?
There are all sorts of variables when it comes to taking a horse trip...how long you plan to be gone, how many people are going, how many horses are going, are you horse packing or not, are you trailering to a location and then riding out from there or riding out from your own property, etc.
Here at ERGR we have the luxury of being able to ride right out of our property without trailering and offer guests an overnight camp trip that heads out after dinner one evening. Then, we enjoy a beautiful sunset up at the top of a mountain with gorgeous views of the Zirkel Mountains and crawl into our sleeping bags for a peaceful night's sleep (we take up pads and pillows!). I realize that you may have different goals with your camping (more luxurious or pack as little as possible), but I wanted to offer this guide for what to pack if you're headed out on an overnight trip with your horses. It takes us three pack horse trips to get all our supplies up if we have 5+ guests, and you'll get a good idea after your first trip how much prep work it will take you.
OVERNIGHT TRIP LIST
-Horse highline (Long rope, Tree saver straps, and horse ties)
-Brush and comb
-Feed you may need
-Typical tack on the horses (includes lead ropes) plus saddle bags
-Matches and lighter
-Paper towel roll
-First Aid Kit
-Tarp for putting over saddles and any other items to keep dry
Food Related (Depends on what meals you're having and how luxurious you want the experience):
-Salt and pepper
-Susan's Homemade bread
Extras if necessary (depends on your location):
Variety, variety and more variety.
Our trail riding is some of the best in the country. Why? Because from one end of our property to the other, we have desert landscape with sage and limited water to lush green grass on the other side. And, our trail up into the National Forest from the property covers both ends of that spectrum.
Then once you're on top, you get sweeping views of the Zirkel Mountains, aspen and pine forests, open meadows and a mountain lake on our all-day ride. What more could you ask for?
Well, I figured you actually could ask for more. So, we offer several additional things to enhance your horseback riding experience. One, we teach trotting and loping/cantering on the trail. Two, we don't make you ride nose-to-tail all the time. Three, we have the ability to trailer our horses a couple of miles up the road (giving you the cowboy trailering experience). And last, for those days that you'd rather not ascend as far and stay closer to the ranch, we'll have arena instruction on trotting, loping, basic horse cues and training techniques as well as cattle work where you get to divide up into teams and sort cows giving you a goal to reach while you work with your horse.
With all of these options within our horseback riding program, we do feel that you'll stay happy and entertained on your horse for the entire week. Be sure and check out our horseback riding page as part of the Dude Ranch Experience. CLICK HERE.