Equitrekking- September 2013

10 Great Dude Ranches for Advanced Horseback Riding, Lopes & Gallops

September 30, 2013

Dude ranches are synonymous with horseback riding, but many experienced horseback riders want to know about ranches where they don’t have to ride “nose-to-tail” and can perhaps lope (canter) and even gallop. Whether you’re an English rider, dressage enthusiast or cutting horse queen, there are a variety of dude ranches where you can find challenging horseback riding on quality horses.

Check out the below 10 great dude ranches for advanced horseback riding. Have a place you’ve been you’d recommend, please let us know your suggestions!

1. Rancho Las Cascadas in San Agustin Buenavista, Mexico

This boutique central Mexican ranch, located on a mountain plateau, has flat fields and quiet unpaved roads that are excellent for gallops for confident riders. Read a traveler’s review of riding here.

2. Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch in Winston, New Mexico

This New Mexico guest ranch does not require you to stay in a line “nose to tail” and does offer trotting and loping for capable riders where the terrain allows. They also offer games on horseback at all gaits and can accommodate all ages and levels of riding skills.

3. Drowsy Water Ranch in Granby, Colorado

This Colorado guest ranch has over 100 head of horses and horseback riding is their primary activity. Advanced riders have many opportunities to explore and blaze trails while handling their horses from leisurely walks to smooth lopes and gallops.

4. Southern Cross Guest Ranch in Madison, Georgia

This ranch is unique in that it’s located in Georgia, but also in that it allows unguided riding for qualified guests, meaning you can take a horse out on your own. Small guided groups are always available. You’ll be encouraged to groom and help tack the horses for a true hands-on and bonding experience. Riders may trot and canter either guided or unguided while here– conditions permitting, of course.

5. Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

This horse lovers’ luxury dude ranch offers adventurous trail rides in small groups that accommodate all riding levels. There are plenty of opportunities for more advanced trails and faster horse riding. They also have a beautiful outdoor arena and for winter, a full-sized and heated indoor riding arena. Ranch Trainer Terry Wegener, a NRHA Money winner, has a background in reining and ranch versatility horse training, competition and judging. Horsemanship clinics include basic horsemanship and more focused cattle work clinics. For a more intensive riding experience, join the fall cattle round-up, which takes riders into the National Forest.

6. The Hideout Lodge & Ranch in Shell, Wyoming 
This Wyoming working cattle ranch is great for experienced riders who want a bigger working ranch experience amid a small number of guests and no “nose to tail” riding. Advanced riders will experience high end horses and instruction with experienced wranglers, charro’s, cowboys and cowgirls. Guests may be able to lope during the intermediate and advanced rides, where the terrain allows.

7. Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Arizona
Guests who pass the lope test can ride fast when the desert trails allow at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, which has some challenging desert terrain. Watch out for those cacti! The special Harmony with Horses program works with riders to develop extensive horsemanship skills and better self understanding through horses.

8. Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish, Montana

In addition to the exciting and challenging ranch sorting and team penning in the arenas, guests are challenged during a rodeo with barrel racing, pole bending, stake race, and the keyhole race. While you’ll frequently be climbing on mountain trails at a slower pace, the meadows and pastures allow for more aggressive, faster ride with loping through more open country.

9. White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona

Experienced riders may enjoy loping/ cantering through the desert on adventurous fast rides at this longtime Arizona dude ranch. Rides range from fast to slow and include options for all day rides, mountain terrain and, back at the ranch, team penning.

10. Hideout Ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico
This is a true riding ranch. Guests ride over a million acres over three mountain ranges. Each trail is unique in both scenery and challenge, with some trails climbing to eight and nine thousand feet elevation. There are areas on many of our trails where the urge to lope is too strong to resist – particularly the Parade Grounds at Rucker. Guests are welcome to join ranch owners and wranglers when they work cattle, which presents an entirely new skill set. Since riding is the focus, Hideout Ranch offer lessons both in the Round Pen and out on the trail. Longtime horse owners often visit this ranch and they too learn something new.