Whether working with gauchos in Argentina, cowboys in America or stockmen in Australia, there’s something about working cattle from the back of a well-trained horse that truly feeds the soul. And getting a taste of life on a working cattle farm is at the top of many globetrotters’ bucket lists! So to help you find your perfect dusty, sweaty, salt-of-the-earth horse riding holiday, we’ve gathered up our top four.
Big Horn Cattle Drive, Wyoming
Make your way to Sheridan, Wyoming for this truly authentic American ranch ride. There’s no molly-coddling on this ride, globetrotters – you’ll be helping the Kerns family undertake their annual cattle drive as they move their herd of almost 650 cows and calves to fresh pastures. To start with, you and your horse will undertake a horsemanship clinic to ensure you have all the skills needed to work with the cattle. This means that the ride is just as accessible to beginner riders as it is to more experienced horse people – you’ll all be on a pretty even playing field by the end of the clinic. And on the cattle drive, you can do as much or as little as you feel comfortable with, whether that’s chasing after runaways or loping along at your own pace. On day two, it’s straight into the real deal: taking care of your own horse and riding out with the ranchers into Big Horn National Park to find and move the herd through the mountains. Rustic it may well be, with tipis set up every night and meals around the camp oven, but you will be totally blown away by the hospitality on this ride. The food is phenomenal, the Kerns family are absolute gems, the quarter horses know their job inside-out and the scenery is gobsmacking! 2019 departure dates will be announced soon, but for five days and nights, it’s quite a steal at USD $2995 (around AUD $4040).
Goomboorian Campdraft Ride
Exclusive to Globetrotting, we engineered this five-day, five-night ride in partnership with guide and host, Andrew McCarthy, as the answer to our globetrotters’ pleas for a true-blue campdrafting experience. It’s the only one of its kind, and at AUD $3000, the value for money is incredible. The property skirts Mount Goomboorian in south-east Queensland, and for the first three nights you’ll camp in tents right at the top of the mountain. Sitting in an Australian stock saddle on the back of a well-trained quarter horse, you’ll get a real taste of life in the bush. Working Andrew’s cattle, you’ll have the chance to participate in drafting, mustering, vaccinating, branding – whatever needs doing. You’ll enjoy meals cooked by a chef over the campfire, savoured under the stars with a beer to wash it down. After three days working on the mountain, you and your horses will be transported to Widgee, where you’ll learn to campdraft at Rod Cotter’s clinic. This is the only horse riding holiday in the world where you can participate in a campdraft clinic. Campdrafting is a notoriously difficult sport to break into, and this is the best start you could possibly hope for. It’s also some of the best fun you will ever have! Over two days, you’ll benefit from one-on-one tuition tailored to your level, whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experienced rider. After two days, you’ll be campdrafting like an old hat.
As part of our #10rides80days world tour, we’re road testing an exclusive five-day, four-night horse riding holiday in Camargue, France. The horse culture is out of this world – we’ll be riding with Le Gard, the ‘guardians’ of the Camargue horses, the ancient, sea-loving, pure white horses of the marshes. Led by a third-generation ‘guardian’, we’ll learn how to muster and work Camargue’s black bulls. On top of this, we’ll witness a traditional, humane version of bullfighting that involves tying scarves on the bull’s horns. The accommodation is absolutely luxe: a five star, seventeenth-century, family-restored farmhouse, inside of which we will likely eat our weight in gourmet French food and wine. I know for many globetrotters, riding these silvery horses through their native wetlands is a long-cherished childhood dream: now is the time to live it. The ride runs from the 29th of October to the 2nd of November (out of peak season for Europe, which certainly helps the hip pocket!) and costs €2256, or around AUD $3,500. Laura and I will be on the ride, too, so if you fancy hanging out with us and a handful of other likeminded globetrotters, we’ll see you in France!
If you want a real American cattle experience without the need to ride point-to-point, this lodge-based ride is for you. Backing onto the Big Horn Mountain Range, this guest ranch is also a working cattle ranch. Covering 650,000 acres, there is a huge diversity of scenery and no two days are the same. From the prairie to canyons, you’ll see some of the USA’s most spectacular country, plus a few wild mustangs to boot! With a totally customisable day-to-day itinerary, the ranch can cater for all experience levels and interests, from beginners wanting to improve or learn new skills to experienced riders looking to do some serious cattle work. This holiday is also great for non-riders, with activities including fly fishing, trap shooting and archery on offer as well. Family groups are exceptionally well catered for, with the ranch welcoming kids aged eight and over and enough wranglers to give you the flexibility your family needs. Rides run from March to November and you can choose from four, six or thirteen-night stays. We recommend the six-night ride, which costs USD $3300 (about AUD $4500) – this includes tips, taxes, and wine!
Now that you’ve sussed our top cattle working holiday experiences, all that’s left to do is choose! If you would like any more information about these horse riding holidays, please fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch very soon.