horse vacation Tag

Colorado Horsemanship Clinic

Last week was a fun week here at Vista Verde. It started off with a 5 day horsemanship clinic for overnight guests and finished with a one day Reining and Ranch versatility clinic for locals.

What is the difference? Well, they are very similar in many ways, but also very different. Obviously the 5 day horsemanship clinic gave a chance to spend more time focusing on more topics. One afternoon was all about conformation and understanding how the build of the horse affects their performance and what you can expect from them. Another session Terry focused on locomotion from the rear, in other words, how to make your horse move better by powering their energy from their back end for better performance. Of course, he spent some time working on the riders and their balance and breathing and how the horse recognizes subtle changes in both. We found that it was so engaging for the guests that even those who really wanted to pull away at least one day to go skiing couldn’t do it. In fact, Chris and Laura were rumored to be getting up early each day to go out and snowshoe at 7am so they could get outside, but not miss a moment of the clinic. That’s dedication!

For the Sunday Reining and Ranch Versatility clinic, we had a nice turnout. This group was here to pick Terry’s brains on how to better prepare their own horses for competition in these division. Some of the riders had younger horses, and some were riding more seasoned and well trained horses. Terry had this group fine tuning their stops and turns as well as spending a fair amount of time finding the perfect seat so they can sit quietly and effectively.

For those who haven’t spent time with Terry or another horse trainer, this stuff may all be almost laughable. However, once you dip your toe in the water (or should I say hoof? Sorry…had to..) it is really amazing stuff. The subtleties that horses pick up on in our movement and communications to them make a huge difference in how they respond to you. And learning to move the horse in different ways like moving their shoulders independently from their haunches to learning how to soften their mouths makes a huge difference in the enjoyment of the ride. A well trained horses is like driving a Mercedes. A poorly trained, unresponsive, dull horse is like…well, I won’t sabotage anyone here but it’s kind of like a car with a stuck gas pedal…nuff said. We’re shooting for Mercedes….the 4 wheel drive kind here. And by teaching our guests how to ride better and how to train our horses, we are getting there!

A Simple Guide to Dude Ranch staff

If you want to provide the best dude ranch vacation to your guests, you have to start with the best dude ranch staff.  Yesterday marked the start of our orientation weeks, and we are already off to the races on getting our crews dialed in on how to do their jobs with excellence!

Typically, the first day of orientation involves this map.  Each staff member gets up and introduces themselves before planting a push pin on the map to show their hometown.  Part of what makes this a great dude ranch vacation experience is the fact that these talented people come from all over the country. This year, it was all USA, but some years we have folks from outside of the country.

Now, it’s time to work on learning the ins and outs of their departments.

The wranglers need to learn all the horses, their personalities, how we want to teach folks and where to take them on their riding holidays.

The housekeepers need to learn the level of cleanliness we expect for making our romantic cabins (hey, you can have romance whether you’re on a honeymoon or a family vacation) spotless and shiny.

The servers need to learn the proper serving style for a ranch that is luxurious, but still ranchy and friendly.

The guides need to learn where to take guests when they want to bike, hike or fish….because our all inclusive ranch resort is more than just a dude ranch.

The list goes on as each crew learns what it takes to try to provide the best dude ranch vacation out there!