The following article 1st appeared in Ranch & Reserve Magazine’s 2017 3rd issue
♫ Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play……♫
Almost everyone even remotely acquainted with western folklore is familiar with this refrain from a classic American folk song, “Home on the Range” written in the early 1870’s by Dr. Brewster M. Higley. Later on the original verses were slightly modified, set to music and recorded by various big-name singers, Bing Crosby being the first in 1933 and later by Frank Sinatra and Burl Ives. Home on the Range has since become the unofficial anthem of the American west and the State song of Kansas. This paen to a “cowboy’s life” also happened to be President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favourite song.
Riding the range
Home on the Range’s popularity with its images of the old wild west still resonates with die-hard riding enthusiasts and city slickers alike who relish the thought of a truly authentic western experience of long days riding the range, herding cattle and sleeping out under a canopy of stars. What could be more exciting to a real western aficionado or a relatively newbie to horseback riding than the adrenalin-rush of riding outdoors on the range, honing equestrian skills and the joy of living a dream.
The good news is that this isn’t just something to dream about since various working ranches offer a limited number of guests the experience of being part of the daily ranch routine of actively riding the range, moving and herding cattle under the expert guidance of family owners and ranch hands.
One such ranch is Horses N Courage, which warmly welcomes guests to its Big Sky back-country spread at Sawmill Canyon south of the Snowy Mountains in Martinsdale, Montana. Horses N Courage is a rustic working guest ranch which truly evokes the spirit of Home on the Range, owing to the deer, elk and antelope population along with moose, coyotes and bears that inhabit their breathtaking 2,000 acre private range land with its wide open pastures, rolling hills and high mountain views.
Horses N Courage
Family owned and operated by Kent and Sarah Hereim since 1997, this working cattle ranch offers 4 day/3 nights riding packages, consisting of range riding on the property of up to 6 hours daily in the saddle according to comfort level and expertise, herding or moving cattle across different terrains and streams. In addition, there is hiking, wildlife photography or soaking in the nearby White Sulphur Springs. You can also practice dummy roping skills.
The ranch can accommodate up to 8 guests in four comfortable tents, each containing two cots, sleeping bags, warm blankets, lantern, table, chair and wash bowl. An immaculately clean outdoor toilet and shower are close at hand.
Hearty down-home meals are ranch-prepared and eaten in a communal dining tent. At night, a campfire and ‘smores add to the western ambience after a hard day in the saddle before tumbling into bed in your cosy tent. As a BYOB ranch, guests are advised to bring their own alcohol and that smoking is not permitted in tents or on the trails. There is no wifi or cell phone access thereby providing an “off the grid” break from the cares of normal city life to better focus on the spectacular Montana surroundings and a chance to truly reconnect with nature.
Guests are welcomed at Horses N Courage ranch during the beautiful Montana summer months when the weather is usually warm, dry and sunny. Rustic Working Ranch Riding Vacations are offered on these dates, June 28 – July 1st (8 spots available) and August 24-27 (4 spots available). For more information please contact the ranch about this and other innovative packages available.
Horses N Courage Ranch provides extensive range riding activities and outdoor camping for a really different, fun kind of ranch vacation. No frills but plenty of thrills!
♫ I was born under a wanderin’ sky, wheels are made for rollin’ and mules are made to pack, I’ve never seen a sight that didn’t look better looking back…..♫
Written for the musical, Paint Your Wagon in 1951 by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe, this beloved western song exemplifies the spirit of a roving cowboy, always saddling up and moving onto someplace else, such as New Mexico, where the next working ranch is located.
D. H. Lawrence wrote, “I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had.”
Known for its dramatic landscapes of plains, mountains, plateaus and desert grasslands, it’s not difficult to understand the impact New Mexico had on the renowned English novelist, who made Kiowa Ranch in Taos (now known as the D.H. Lawrence Ranch and a popular tourist attraction) his home during the early 1920’s where he wrote The Plumed Serpent.
Burnt Well Guest Ranch lies in the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains at an elevation of 4,200 feet, about 40 miles from Roswell, the city of UFO fame, in the sunny arid climate of southeastern New Mexico. Burnt Well has a long and colourful history of cattle breeding that goes back to the family’s patriarch, Ivan Chesser, who purchased the property in 1950. Current owners and operators are his son Kim, wife Patricia and their 3rd and 4th generation family. The Chesser family are so passionate about ranching and their way of life, it prompted them to open up the ranch in 2002 to guests wanting to immerse themselves in the lifestyle and daily operation of a working ranch.
Burnt Well Guest Ranch
The ranch mainly uses quarter horses and not a regular dude string. Avid horse riders will be pleased to learn there is no nose to tail riding at Burnt well. Open pasture riding is the norm, unless you opt for a mountain trail ride for your day trip during the 6-day package. Overnight campouts are available as are all types of cattle work depending on the season. Riding and roping lessons are offered to interested guests.
Cattle drive packages are the crème de la crème for physically healthy, adventurous adults, who love to ride, sleep out under the stars, rough it a little and take home never-to-be-forgotten bucket list memories. This year’s Chisum Challenge Cattle Drive is from October 2-8, 2017. For details, please refer to the ranch website.
Ranch dining is good, wholesome food, be it Mexican-themed fare or lots of “cowboy cuisine” such as brisket, chicken fried steak, grilled steak, lamb chops and plenty of country-type cooking served family-style in the main ranch house or outside around the campfire. The meat served at Burnt Well is Chesser’s own natural beef and lamb….all superbly prepared by Patricia, who can sometimes be persuaded to entertain guests after dinner with her fiddle playing. Occasionally, local musicians are on hand to add to the general merriment.
Guest ranch lodging consists of a comfortable hacienda containing two bedrooms each with its own private bathroom; one bedroom can accommodate a family of 6, the other a family of 4. There is also a great room, pool table, kitchenette, laundry room, separate bath & horse trough shower (called the privy) and a hot tub on the porch. Guests are allowed to bring their own beverages to consume on the premises.
Burnt Well Guest Ranch is open all year to guests and exudes typical western hospitality with generous, caring hosts who strive to make their guests feel like family. The ranch offers an exciting array of daily riding activities, packages and the chance of a lifetime to participate fully in the general routine of a genuine working ranch in beautiful New Mexico.
Live the life of a cowboy
Both of these working ranches offer exceptional opportunities to realize a truly special dream vacation where you get to enjoy a hands-on experience of what a working cowboy’s life is all about and if you’re really lucky, you might even catch a glimpse one moonlit, starry night of galloping ….♫Ghost Riders in the Sky…..♫ and the sound of….. ♫Yippie yi ooh, Yippie yi yay…..♫ fading into the distance as you fall blissfully asleep.
By guest author Sheilan Dove
Let RanchSeeker help you find your next vacation!