Working Ranch in Wyoming, USA
I would like to tell you about one of the most fantastic journeys I ever have had:)
Because of private circumstances, in short my new girlfriend liked horses:) I suddenly found myself on a aeroplane heading for Wyoming together with some other more or less experienced cowboys, to heard cows on the big Prairie.
We stayed at a farm called the Two Creek Ranch close to Douglas, Wy. The ranchers, Dennis and Nancy Daly run their family business with their son Shawn and his wife Lisa. They breed Angus cattle and have about 800 mother cows. All of these get their calf in February-March each year. In May half of the herd is going for the long walk to the summer meadows in the highlands. The others stay in several pastures near the ranch. To enable ´city slickers´ to get a the chance of a fabulous holiday and to get enough cow hands to do the work during periods of gathering and moving cattle, they have several periods during the season where you stay and work with them. And real work it is, up at daybreak and late into bed is the daily routine. And .... no, you do not earn money with it, you have to pay for the stay and upkeep. They have the horses and attire, you bring your own gear, a sleeping bag (a warm one in autumn!) your cowboy hat and, of course, the bandana. Good cowboy equipment. like boots hats gloves jackets etc, can be bought in town the first day and a lot cheaper than in Norway.
My first journey was back in 2003, I was nearly 57 years old and had hardly ever been on horseback before. Going on a holiday like this is probably the fastest way to learn to ride a horse, cause you have to stay on ... or fall off. The main problem is not really to stay on, because the cows travel real slow and keeping with them is not really so difficult. But getting off the horse after been in the saddle for 3-4 hours is a major challenge. I got so stiff, especially in the hips, that I had to be helped out of the saddle when returning to the ´Little House on the Prairie´. This house is on the Laramie Plains, some 75 miles from Douglas,Wy and it takes about 2-2.5 hours to get there in a pick-up that pulls a stocktrailer carrying 6-8 horses. The roads a real bumpy and of course unpaved. But the nature is fantastic out there. loads of antelope, deer, prairy dogs and many beautiful (and big) birds. The views on the Laramie plains are fabulous, with the Laramie Peak in the background and the Medicine Bow National park close by, this is the place for lovers of real nature. The plains are approximately 2000 to 2500 metres above sea level and were in the old days the playground for Indians and buffalo. Many remains of that era are still to be found.
I had a wonderful time there in 2003, albeit sore in certain body parts, and have been back there three more times during different periods. You can go there during the calving period (cold and hard work!). the branding period (for real cowboys, with calf wrestling and all), for the cattle drives (in May to the Plains and end October back to the ranch) and for the different periods of gathering, moving and weighing of the calves.
All in all a super experience for people not normally used to this (and who is??) and a fantastic outdoor holiday with a lot of exercise and fun. After a long hard day in the saddle, a good meal and a play of cards or dominos at the kitchen table after dinner it is time for bed. And before you know it the boss calls: "Hey y´all, it´s time to get up, we´re burning daylight"
Do you want to know more? Go to www.hiddentrails.com or read about it in "Fascination Horse" by Gabrielle Boiselle, probably the best horse photographer in the world. Or in a nice little book called "Blue bug, red road" by Gaines Post Jr.
Good luck on your journey! Blue skies!