CATTLE DRIVE VACATIONS – HORSE DRIVES
Horse Drives became very popular about 15 years ago. For the Dryhead Ranch the idea grew out of a dry no grass year at the ranch. Mares that we had always left on the ranch during the winter did not have winter grass, so Joe Bassett moved them to Wyoming for the winter and found pasture for them. Then the problem was moving 120 head of mares that were not halter broke or trail broke back to the ranch 50 miles away. Our cowboy knew a guy who was good with horses and recommended him for the job, Jake Hahn. So, we advertised our first horse drive for the Dryhead Ranch and found interest in joining us for the ride. The mares followed Jake through cluttered, fenced farm lanes into open bentonite hills and down the Old Sioux trail for three days to their familiar grazing grounds on the Dryhead Ranch. Since then we have had Horse Drives spring and fall. They begin each year with our spring horse drive as we take our horses into the Dryhead Country so we have horses on the ranch to start our cattle drives. We end each guest season with our fall horse drive when we take our horses back to Wyoming to spend the winter. Are you wondering “What to Bring?” We have you covered!
SPRING HORSE DRIVES
Spring for us begins in the middle of April. Calves are being born and in a couple of weeks we will start cattle drives to Montana and our horses need to be in place at the ranch to give our guests something to ride when we get to the ranch with the cows. So, the horse drives are the beginning week of each Dryhead Ranch guest season.
The weather is springtime in Montana. Layers and quite often winter coats and gloves and hats and chaps are the best choice instead of cowboy hats and lighter clothes. It takes us three days to trail the horses to the ranch where we will ride for two more days checking pastures and fences and preparing the gates to hold cows in the coming weeks. We are also looking for mares and fillies that have spent the winter at the ranch and looking to be sure they are looking well and healthy. That 2020 colts will be born in another month and we want to be sure the mares are all looking good.
Mare Band Making – Adding A Stallion
This great horse week is always the first June week. We want our colts born in late April and May, so they are uniform and old enough to wean in October. Most of our mares never leave the ranch. Most are raised on the ranch from birth, some are purchased, all have watching cows as part of their natural breeding and training. They could be considered wild except Jake brakes and rides all the new fillies that he adds to the mare band of 30 or so of Dryhead Ranch )S( mares and 6 of Jake and Jess Hahn’s mares. The blood lines of these colts are a continuous conversation between Jake and Jess all year long.
New colts born and how they look and act are shared on the days they see them while riding and working on the ranch all summer long. Colts weaned and taken to Wyoming for the winter are talked about as they are halter broke and their disposition and confirmation and looks are part of each supper time conversation.The kids ride ponies after being home schooled most days while Jess gentles colts and gets some ready to sell and older colts in training as they get them ready to be broke to ride. Their true love of horses shows during this, making mare bands week and many lists and conversations complete this final choice of what mares go with which stallion. If you love horses, you will love this week of hands on horse riding and handling.
Colt Registration and Required Photos
Oh, what a site to behold. 30-35 head of mares with obedient colts shimmering through the sunlight plus 40 head of young fillies and horse colts as they move through the creek and down the trail to ranch headquarters. Jake canters ahead of them at times and walks at other times and they sense his every move. Like a choreographed dance across the vistas of amazing grassland meadows. It is hard to choose my favorite horse week, but this comes pretty close. Fall weather, golden colors, crisp mornings and horses kicking up dust in the corral as the sun’s rays rise over the Big Horn Mountains. We have caught glimpses of these mothers and their saucy kids for over four months now.
This week we finally get to see them quietly stand in the corral and nip at their new friends they haven’t seen since June and show off their stuff for the cameras. The ohhhs and awwws from the guests and cowboys in appreciation of what they can be one day soon, is proof of the fact that we are all horse lovers to the core. This is what brings us all together from all over the world. Horses. Horses. Horses. Young, old, mares, stallions and the favorite ones we ride. Horses. Horses. Horses.
FALL HORSE ROUNDUP
You ARE brave or desperate to get away for a week to join our Horse Drive this week. This is not for the faint of adventure. I even wonder what magic will peak or challenge our last week of the guest season. It could be the beautiful weather, (this is the only place I put snow pictures) it could be the amazing variety of guests who join us for this adventure, it could be the promise of a wonderful, full week of a stunning bunch of well trained and well put together horses of all ages. Gods best created beauty and movement. Each year is a collection of Disney like excitement and memories. When you arrive on Sunday evening it is dark.
So, Monday morning is the first view of the ranch vistas. With the sunrise coming over the Big Horn Mountains it is almost perfect. The cavvy horses are wrangled into the corral while we are eating breakfast and with the sunrise behind them it is amazing. Monday and Tuesday are days we ride out the north gate to accomplish a few of our normal ranch jobs. Looking for anything we have not found and checking the gathered horses we’ve brought up close so we know we had them for the “head down the trail day”. If they mix for a couple days before the trail day, they seem to stay in a bunch more peacefully. Riding out these first two mornings also gives you a chance to see the vastness of the ranch and gets your riding seat prepared for trailing horses for three days. Our cows are still at the ranch and so we will be checking gates and fences and making sure they are settled for the rest of the week while we are gone.
Wednesday morning we put all the different groups of horses together (horse cavvy, young weanling colts, horses in training, older mares, fillies we will sell over the winter) in the main corral so they can get their pecking order established before we go out the Dryhead gate and down the trail. Jake assigns the position you will ride in. It will change each day. You will ride a different horse each day. The horses will move fast and slow and canter easily. There will be horses that push the boundaries and horses that will never leave their favorite position: holding the lead or liking the view from the back. You might be able to take pictures and then again it may be to steady to manage holding still long enough for a couple shots. I normally take a lot of pictures, the light is usually perfect. I have many favorite weeks or favorite days and these are some of them. You will love the ride. Wyoming here we come.
SEE WHAT OUR GUEST HAD TO SAY!
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
Well, its back to reality and back to work for me today! I’m still dreaming of the aroma of sage in the pastures in Montana and the thundering hooves. -Roam Photos
I got to photograph some colt starting while out in Montana. It was amazing to watch the way they communicated with their young horses and Jake and Matthew were kind enough to share stories and technique with us while calmly working with each horse! I’m sharing a couple of the most exciting moments here, but all in all it was a pretty calm affair. -Fast Horse Photography
14 years ago and still thinking about my experience everyday. Unforgettable. -Camille Brit
A place to meet old and new friends. Every year I learn a little more about the work of the cowboys, a little more about how to handle horses. It’s a place that decelerates. All work is done in cow time. After the holiday is before the holiday. So I look forward to next year -Andreas Will, Germany
Such incredible memories of my week on the ranch. A long time dream of mine and I just don’t have words for the “wow” moments I had on that trip. Hearing the cowboys bring in the horses that first morning, galloping to catch up to and turn the strays, the stars at night, to name a few! Thank you for the memories I will forever cherish -Maureen Knibloe
Solitude. Peace. Adventure. Friendship. Great food. As close to the real West as could be. Treat that childhood cowboy wanna-be to something special. -Jimmy Addis
I had a great time at the Dryhead Ranch. I loved my time in the saddle experiencing Montana and getting to know the family. It left me the best kind of tired, ready for a good nights sleep after a delicious dinner. I’d like to think that stay gave me the clarity of mind to make the best decision of my life…to move out to Montana and enjoy riding my horse surrounded by it’s beauty…Read More→
There is no place better to see beautiful scenery and enjoy the cowboy lifestyle. Every time I go, I learn and grow thanks to the outstanding team at Dryhead. Thank you all so very much! -Ken Fisher
For me it was the most beautiful travel I’ve never done!!! It was a dream since I am 10 years, and I really hope I could come and see all of us one more time… -Isabelle Isa
Still my favorite place on earth! I dream about it every night.. My feet itch to get back only I will probably never leave again.. From the feeling of family epic horses and a once in a lifetime experience.. Nothing could ever top the Dryhead. It healed my soul in so many ways I couldn’t begin to explain..All I can say is thank you and hopefully see you all real soon. -Caty Greve
I can honestly say that this was one of the best vacations I’ve ever been on. Great food, great staff and some of the best scenery you could ask for. I’ll be back, and it won’t be fast enough. Jen was great in getting us started and getting us anything we needed during my stay. Jake was great with me while working with the cattle and horses as a novice rider, and the food was…Read More→
Sore muscles and a dirty face has never felt so magnificent! Having the privilege of joining the ranch family, building relationships, working hard, and experiencing the majesty all around, was truly an unforgettable experience. -Monique Gilbert
Friendly welcoming and had a fabulous time on this true cowboy hands on experience with fabulous horses. Good homemade food set to your dietary requirements. Clean and homey accommodations. We felt like family and have returned for a second time. Hopefully we get to go again. -Michelle Robinson
This is a great place with great people—and the real deal, nothing fancy, which greatly contributes to why I keep coming back. It doesn’t matter whether you are with a big group of people, or the only guest, which, by some strange coincidence, I have practically been the only guest most of the times I have been to Dryhead. The scenery is amazing. And you can be sure of a lot of riding on good…Read More→
Once in a lifetime experience never to be forgotten. You really do become a part of the family. -Pat Hofmann
I just came home from a week at the Dryhead Ranch and wanted to thank Iris, Jennifer, Jackie, and Jake for the greatest vacation I have ever had! I have always wanted to see Montana and this experience was more than I ever hoped for. The bunkhouse, food, horses, scenery and hospitality shown by this wonderful family is something I will always fondly remember. I came home with answers and this really did change my life in a…Read More→
Third time and keeps getting better! A big thanks to Jake, Sky, Jennifer, Jackie, Cannon, Suzie, and everyone else at the Dryhead for making my third trip to the ranch so much fun. We really got to experience a little bit of everything last week! The other guests and I really got along and seemed like had I had known them for years instead of just a few days. The warm family atmosphere at the…Read More→