Summer ranch stays suited to tots, tweens and teens.
Riding holidays are ideal for families who thrive on thrilling adventures. Specialist tour operator, Ranch Rider selects six of the best summer ranch stays suited to tots, tweens and teens.
1 – Proof that horses make a family riding holiday, guests of Arizona’s White Stallion Guest Ranch have the opportunity to vote for the “Horse of the Month,” the winning mount receiving a carrot cake, a bath and a massage. Ranch Rider has also previously enlisted the assistance of Hondo, the mischievous gelding from Colorado’s Lost Valley Guest Ranch blogging for PONY magazine.
2- Those aged six to 12 years will enjoy going west in Wyoming. The Native Americans used to paint their horses with war symbols before going into battle, an historic activity on offer for children at the Goosewing Guest Ranch. Tomahawk throwing, archery, kids only horseback rides and animal tracking are also on the list of pursuits, the ranch complete with its own western town including the Willow Kid Saloon which is strictly for under 18s. For a Wild West adventure you won’t forget, reserve the family teepee and enjoy a night out under the stars.
3- Colorado’s Zapata Cattle & Bison Working Ranch. Children from seven years will have the option to round up the herd and break into a canter across the back of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The ranch’s work is structured around conservation there are always plenty of pursuits to stimulate young minds, including horseback rides to view the wild bison, interpretive nature hikes and optional photography tours with professional photographer Stephen Weaver.
4- For toddler friendly ranching book a week long stay at Idaho’s Red Horse Mountain Guest Ranch. One of very few North American ranches to let little ones (three to six years) hit the trail, the knowledgeable wranglers walk right alongside children on their daily ride across the valley floor. Also tot friendly, there is a challenge course, zip line and the chance to go kayaking. The ranch features an “adult only” five course dinner part way through the holiday, while kids are entertained by the ranch’s expert counselors.
5- For exhilarating horseback adventures your teens will love, head for Montana’s Sweet Grass Guest Ranch. Over the summer, when the high water drops from the spring runoff, older children can ride their mounts bareback to various swimming holes along Sweet Grass Creek. Running straight through the ranch, the creek is also ideal for tubing and “Hell Roaring” is an aptly named natural water slide. There’s no formal children’s program, but this ranch has kids covered, the property formally a summer camp.
6- Want to hit the beach and the trail? At La Reata Working Ranch families can do both, the property located in Saskatchewan’s River Valley along the shores of Lake Diefenbaker. Children from eight years have the option to ride across the open prairies and check the herd – the wranglers teaching families how to rope on the dummy steer and refereeing games of barrel racing. Swimming, boating, canoeing and water skiing are available down by the lake, the 200 kilometre stretch of sandy beach perfect for family picnics.
7 – Colorado’s Vista Verde Luxury Guest Ranch runs a teenage campout throughout the summer months. Even the legendary Big Foot has been known to put in an appearance – a cowboy dressing up in a Sasquatch costume and making scary bear like noises as the kids roast s’mores round the campfire. There’s also a scheduled “Dine & Dash” dinner three times a week. While the brood eat and run to enjoy hayrides, treasure hunts or games of Capture the Flag, the adults sit down to enjoy a candlelit dinner. Round off the family adventure with all day picnic rides and hot air ballooning.