Ranch Week Vacations
Ranch Weeks—Ride, Ride, Ride!
Everyone loves horses, that is what brings all of us together. Cattle Drives hit the top of the bucket list for every western movie watcher but, Dryhead Ranch is the perfect place and Ranch weeks are the perfect blend of both cattle drives and horse riding adventures. Ranch weeks are the best. We ride out daily from the ranch heading west up the canyon to gather cows and calves. You get to experience the thrill of watching the cowboys work out pairs from the herd. Then you get to see what it is like to work your horse into the herd to work out your own pair from the herd. Nothing better can excite you more than the feel of being a partner with your horse, wide open beautiful landscapes and feeling your cowboy vacation unfold. Here are some helpful tips on “What to Bring”.
The variety in each Ranch weeks is what we like best. When you see the horses canter into the corral early in the morning with dust flying and hooves thundering you know it is going to be an amazing great day. After breakfast everyone saddles up to heads out the north gate to the branding pasture, it is a completely different day than the day before. You are headed to brand calves today. The sunrise ride to get the cows is the realization and the awe of it all, you are on a horse, your favorite place to be. Soon the noise of cows and calves moving to the corner of the pasture brings the reality of the work that needs to be done. Cowboys begin by roping calves and drag them to the branding stove and the work begins when Jake asks if YOU would like to take a job and share in the fun of branding calves. Branding is required to prove ownership of our cattle. Gals and guys alike take a job and become part of the team to get this job done. It is required that each cowboy ropes each calf by both hind feet and drags each calf to the branding stove. The ground crew doctors and gives vaccination shots and ear notches according to each calf’s brand before they let the calf up. Soon it is lunch time, the cows take their calves and go back to grazing and the cowboys and cowgirls find a place to sit down and lunch is enjoyed out in big sky country.
Ranch weeks begin in May and change with the seasons until October. Branding weeks halt for our most popular horse week. Making mare bands. We spend the week gathering mares and colts from mountain pastures and bringing in the stallions from Wyoming to sort certain mares into bands so we can add the stallion and turn the band out into a secluded corner of the ranch for the summer breeding season. This is the earliest booked up week of the year. Summer seems to come in slowly as we move cows to high mountain pastures and fit in colt and horse training weeks. Fall colors remind us that time to wean the calves at the end of September and haul them to Wyoming for the winter is leaving that feeling in the air. Each month has ranch work to share in:
May and June
After cattle drives that bring cows to the ranch in May we brand several weeks until we get all our calves gathered up and branded. Each week of cows and calves are turned out into summer pastures and kept separate from the cows and calves that are still needing to be branded. Each week we ride through these branded calves checking for sickness. Cowboys will rope and doctor any calves that are sick all season long.
June starts with the gathering of our 30+ head of mares who bring with them newly born colts. The wild flowers and chokecherry blossoms are amazing and spring is at its best. One of our most popular weeks happens when we divide mares into mare bands and add stallions. It’s great to see the stallion command and move his mare band out the gate and make them go to their corner of the ranch where they will spend the summer months.
Ranch weeks for the rest of June rush into getting cows and calves settled in summer pastures far away from the headquarters of the ranch. Our riding circles get big during the summer and go in every direction from the ranch headquarters as we make sure our cows and horses stay in the pasture they are left to graze in.
July and August
Those wonderful days of summer slowly change our schedule to early morning rides and hot days. The young horses come into the corral each evening to begin the training sessions that fill each evening until dark. Cattle are looked for and returned to our grazing pastures and neighboring strays are taken home. All day rides are needed as we check for cattle to be doctored and fences that need a little attention and salt blocks put out for mineral deficient cows. Days in summer are unpredictable and could be spent looking for colts that are needed at the ranch or heifers that are up the mountain in the wrong pasture or checking on mare bands tucked away in the canyon. We live at the foot of the Pryor Mountains and headquarters sits in the middle of Dryhead Canyon. All rides are up or down in rocky, sage brush infested terrain that always offers riding challenges. The sure footedness of your horse will win your trust and admiration on the first day. Your skill in riding will be challenged and tested each day and your level of skill will remarkably improve by the end of the week. Beginners become skilled riders and skilled riders love the challenges that show up on each ride.
September and October
Ever wondered how we keep track of all our cows and calves? Ride, Ride, Ride. That is why we have horses, we raise horses, we train horses, we offer you a new look at what horses can and will do. You ride with us to find heifers out in the neighboring pastures. You ride to bring in horses for training. We ride to fix the fence, so cows stay on the right grass. You ride to bring in all the cows so we can wean the calves. Dryhead Ranch is real, authentic, all about family. We look forward to having you come ride with us. We ride to bring in the mare bands so we can wean the colts. We ride to take the bulls out of the cows, so our calves are born during March and April. We ride to put the cows in grassy places tucked away from the easy places to graze. We ride to find wandering horse colts 8 miles away from the ranch who had escaped into the neighbors. No 4×4’s here. 33,000 owned and leased acres takes a lot of riding and management. That is what makes a real ranch and ranch work and good horses for you. We love good horses.
One of my favorite images from MT last summer at the Dryhead Ranch was chosen as the Opening Shot in this month’s February 2020 issue of Western Horseman magazine! Watching James ride Yeller and rope his calf was truly one of the highlights of my trip. The determination and seriousness on his face is priceless! Lol Good thing two grown cowboys were nearby to help out. -Pam Gabriel Photography
The future belongs to the few that are still willing to get their hands dirty. Thanks to all the farmers and ranchers for keeping us well fed. -PhyllisBurchettPhoto
So excited to open the May edition of Western Horseman magazine April 2020. It be honest, during all of the craziness that is currently happening, it’s been very hard for me to stay positive about my small business. The opening shot couldn’t have come at a better time for me! Stay healthy and happy, my friends! I hope to photograph you all in the coming months. -Hilary Bishop