We look at our horses a lot like our employees, as they are a very critical part of our team. Numerous guests over the years have commented on how much we take their well-being into mind. Every horse person has their idea of what a well-cared for horse looks like, but for us it means they are comfortably fitted with their gear, kept fueled up with a balanced diet, and their veterinary and farrier needs are a priority. Now, this still means they work hard for our guests, and are tolerant and patient with our new riders, but we also manage their fatigue and overall well-being as we choose terrain and ride length and speed.
Herd Health Manager Mary Grefrath recently reminded me that our horses have an interesting job description in the horse world. Typically, horses are a master of one area. If they are a show horse, they are experts at going around an arena perfectly. If they are trail horses, they know how to navigate tricky terrain and stay calm when wildlife and other unexpected surprises pop out at them. If they are working cattle horses, they know how to position themselves and pursue or back off cows at just the right time. Of course, the list goes on, but the point is that dude ranch horses are expected to do all these tasks with proficiency. They need to keep our guests safe on the trail, but also maneuver the arena for those learning how to ride, while also being competent at cattle work. That’s a big feat, and not everyone can do it all perfectly, so it’s good to not expect perfection in any one area. And what’s great about this variety is it keeps our horses bright and curious and happy. Imagine if you only did one thing over, and over, and over….you might become dead inside after a while. The variety and balance are so good for our horses’ minds, and we see it in their bright personalities and thinking minds.
The next piece of the puzzle that makes this exciting for us is that by teaching our guests how we train our horses, and offering numerous clinics as well as instruction on the trail, we work with our guests to continually train our horses to be better. So, know that when you come and ride with us, and you do a clinic one day, a trail ride the next, and work cattle later in the week, by listening to how we’re teaching and practicing it with your horse, you’re helping create a platform for a happy, healthy horse!