Our new cowboy saddling up on Cricket.
They say a good vacation is one where you experience new things as a family. A break in tradition. I would have to say that our Christmas week at Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Arizona was all of that and more. Along with perfect weather and blue skies in the Sonoran desert, we all came home with the feeling we had a most unique vacation in a most beautiful setting. Rancho de los Cabarellos is more of a family resort than a dude ranch so it isn't roughing it on any level but keeping with the relaxed tone you can wear jeans on their championship golf course.
Austin started the cow penning competition with a mild-mannered horse that he jokingly nicknamed "Narcolepsy" as he was sure it was dozing at times. Riders of all levels are well-matched to horses by the wrangler team who carefully watch your increasing skill level. By the end of the week our adventurous son was loping every chance he got and loving every minute of it. We all loved that a golf course, swimming, and tennis courts were just outside our door, the Trap & Skeet Shooting, the picturesque Bradshaw mountains, stargazing, nature hikes, the delicious cookout ride and some Camelback mountain climbing in Scottsdale. The hospitable Rancho de los Caballeros is full of families, many arriving annually so the groups get bigger and bigger with grandchildren being added every year. It is also known as a corporate getaway.
Switching to a feistier mount named Bon Jovi, those competitive greenhorns of mine want to win this Team Penning competition. Not so fast boys.........
......my husband's "Tumble" which happened within our first hour at the ranch. You can see his horse still bucking and Austin's horse reacting. A few tense minutes which pretty well sealed my skittish horse fear as I observed this tumble in slow motion. My husband grew up with horses on their property so even old hands can take a tumble now and again. Just so you know, this has only happened 3 times in 5 years at the ranch. He wasn't the one we expected to tumble was he?
Once he was checked over by his son for injuries, Jim dusted off his pride, retrieved his sunglasses and headed over to saddle up on another horse with the amicable and relieved head wrangler Willum who tried his darnest to mentally condition me for a trail ride after witnessing Jim's "tumble".
The "building confidence" talk with Head Wrangler Willum. I did manage to lead Powder River around the corral but thankfully no surprise loping as mentioned in my former horse experiences here. Truthfully........I just don't have that adventurist Annie Oakley personality. But our son sures does.
Father and son heading out for an afternoon ride while this cowgirl walked over to the Ranch spa where I had the absolute best 90 minute massage......ever. Should you ever make your way to this western resort spa, ask for Lynell.
Yes, that's me, the failed Annie Oakley wannabee on Powder River with my matching boots and hair pure coincidence. I should be wearing my jeans but I was already feeling the effects of the delicious ranch meals and I suspect Powder was feeling it too. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style but dinner is a jacket or western vest sit down menu dinner. Every dinner was delicious and we would share bites to try it all. I am a yogurt lover and a self-appointed granola connoisseur if there is such a thing, I was able to lasso the recipe for their homemade granola and as soon as I go into town and get some supplies I will share the popular Caballeros granola recipe.
Heading out to the ravine trail with Lowell, the genial and experienced 89-year old wrangler who told the guys everything they need to know about the desert and horseback riding. The ranch offers two trail rides a day, morning and afternoon which differ in their direction and skill. These two guys need some cowboy hats, not just to look the part but to sun protect their ears and necks. I also think they need a few more plaid shirts and one of those western bolo neckties...........look the part a bit more.
The town of Wickenburg is located about 1.5 hrs. from Phoenix and is the home of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. A surprisingly large private collection of local mining history, western artifacts, and artwork and well worth the visit into town. This area was originally known as the dude ranch capital with many ranches but there is just a few left. Los Caballeros has been here since 1948 and is one of the Historic Hotels of America.
The Lone Ranger contemplating how many years it will take to earn his own ranch? Or wondering how soon he can get that horse to lope again. But I think he would agree, there is nothing like riding or loping in the Sonoran desert for new cowboys.
Happy Trails in 2012. I hope you all had a most wonderful holiday and
Happy New Year!
All photos by onsite photographer Melanie Bess Hogan of Saddleback Photography
No conpensation or endorsement was received for this post.