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Horse vacations

Dreaming of getting away from everything but horses? Here are some of the best places to consider

From the Horsetrader - May 17th, 2012 - Special Section

Steens Mountain Guest Ranch
Oregon (see ad on Page 59)
(541) 493-1164

This family-operated working guest ranch wants its visitors to experience the life of the true cowboy and experience the life of a buckaroo first-hand. Here, you become a part of the cowboy crew as soon as you set foot on the ranch’s beautiful Pacific Northwest soil. For the next few days you will live, breathe, eat, sleep, and fully enjoy the sought-after life that made the American West famous.

Seated at the base of the Steens Mountains in the heart of Oregon’s historic buckaroo country, Steens Mountain Guest Ranch provides a unique, intimate, cowboy experience. With its ‘two guests per buckaroo’ ratio, you’ll be one of no more than four guests on the ranch at any time.

As part of the crew, you can expect ranch-raised horses and no ‘nose-to-tail’ riding – and you will receive individual attention while working next to the cowboys. Ever helped doctor a calf or brought in a stray cow? Your hosts realize that not everyone wants to experience everything, so you define your comfort zone and just stand back and watch the action, if you’d like.

Rock Creek Pack Station
California (see ad on Page 58)
(760) 872-8331

Located in California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, the Rock Creek Pack Station offers scheduled traveling pack trips as long as 10 days or as short as 3. They have access to the Golden Trout Wilderness and Sequoia National Park. Enjoy as many carefree vacation days as you choose in the John Muir Wilderness area with complete accommodations, including meals provided by a qualified packer and outfitter.

Beginning May 19, you can spend a few days tracking wild mustangs from a base camp in the Pizona area. Be ready for vast landscapes, beautiful sunsets and the opportunity to see the mustangs and their herd activities. Bring your camera! The ‘Mustangs. . . A Living Legacy 2012’ trip allows you track wild horses and relive the Old West in the seldom-visited Pizona area of the lnyo National Forest.
Rock Creek also offers a week-long ‘packing school’ where you can learn backcountry horsemanship and camping skills.

Dude Ranchers’ Association
(See ad on Page 58)
(866) 399-2339

At the more than 100 dude ranches that make up The Dude Ranchers’ Association, guests are sure to find the All-American Western vacation they have been dreaming of – days spent in the saddle, enjoying stunning scenery and breathing fresh country air, and evenings enjoying tasty down-home cooking and ranch entertainment. Since 1926 The Dude Ranchers’ Association has been helping folks find quality ranch vacations by establishing and enforcing high standards for its members. Dude ranches applying for membership go through a rigorous two-year inspection and approval process, including a close review of their application, a review of references from former guests, an appearance before the board of directors and on-site inspections during actual dude ranch operations. Typically, only 70% of the ranches that apply meet the high standards of the Association. When guests book a vacation at a Dude Ranchers’ Association member ranch, they can be assured that it is actually a ranch and not just a hotel with horses.

The Dude Ranchers’ Association’s original membership of 35 ranches from the Yellowstone area has now grown to 100-plus member ranches in 12 western states and 2 Canadian provinces.

Idle Hour Guest Ranch
California (See ad on Page 59)
(661) 270-1055
This private, gated ranch is a favorite for horsemen and horsewomen seeking a beautiful, peaceful and relaxing destination for both you and your horse. Located in Leona Valley, California in the Angeles Crest National Forest with the Pacific Coast Trail running right over the property. The Bed & Breakfast boasts beautifully appointed rooms, welcoming hosts and incredible cuisine. You’ll enjoy quiet relaxation in the courtyard around the outdoor fireplace and waterfall; and enjoy the brilliant night sky as you relax in the spa.

There are many activities to do by horseback. Ride your horse to the Leona Valley Winery for a little wine tasting. Enjoy cool summer breezes, an incredible staff and quiet relaxing moments. Or ride on down to Casa Gutierrez, the local Mexican Restaurant for some great food, margaritas and local flavor. June is ‘Cherry Picking Month’ in the Leona Valley and all the ranches are open and ripe for the taking. Discover the beauty of the Angeles Crest National Forest by horseback on the Pacific Coast Trail as you ride for miles and hours melt into moments.

Point Reyes Country Inn & Stables
California (See ad on Page 56)
(415) 663-9696

Just one hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge, The Point Reyes Country Inn and Stables can be your headquarters for days of relaxation, outdoor activities and fine dining. Nestled between the Point Reyes National Seashore, the Golden Gate National Recreational Area and Tomales Bay State Park, the Country Inn is surrounded by beauty and natural wonders. Walk the Earthquake Trail or ride your horse to the beach, hike across the Inverness Ridge or visit the famous oyster farms on Tomales Bay.

There are three levels of accommodations for the equestrian enthusiast: The Grooms Quarters over the stables consisting of two studios, each with queen bed and kitchen, an additional room with four sleeping spaces. The Country Inn is a six bedroom home all with private baths. For a completely different experience, consider our two cottages on Tomales Bay. Located seven miles from the Inn and stables in the village of Inverness, both cottages are romantic, private and have the best views of the bay in the area.

Accommodations for your equine companions are just as comfortable. There is a ten stall stable: stalls are 12 x 12 feet and five stalls have 12 x 24 foot runs attached, six outdoor 12 x 24 foot pipe corrals and three large paddocks which can accommodate up four compatible horses. One can trailer a short distance to the Point Reyes National Seashore where there are various staging areas. With over 100 miles of wooded trails, pastoral views, and long sandy beaches to explore, you can ride for many days without retracing your steps.

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