Monday, January 2, 2012

We brought a Cowboy back from Wickenburg, Arizona

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......... 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.


  1. Oh Sande,
    What a wonderful way to spend Christmas.....your son really looks the part, your horse is the most beautiful and you look so good on Powder River, even though you probably preferred the massage !!.... and, even though your husband had a tumble, I'm sure that he had a wonderful time too.
    Many, many thanks for all of your support throughout 2011 and I wish you and your family a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2012 and lots more blogging friendship.
    Sent with love from my family to yours. XXXX

  2. Wow Sande, you guys sure had the best time. Austin looks totally at ease, duck to water obviously. You look so glam sitting up there...nice boots and love your hair. That massage sounds amazing as does the food!

    I'm so happy for you all, what great memories you will have from this time, as a family.

    I wish you so much happiness for 2012, enormous hugs & love DJ xxx

  3. Sande-
    Good for you! Looks like so much fun!
    Happy New Year.

  4. Sande,
    I must say that you have brought chic to horseback riding! The hair, the sunglasses, the boots-oh la la!
    I'm so glad that Jim's tumble right off the bat was a quick recovery. I can just imagine your stomach sinking at that moment.
    This family trip looks like quite a memorable experience, and from reading your photo credit, it looks like you were vacation savvy and had someone photograph your journey-great idea! These photos are such a beautiful souvenir. Thank you for sharing your vacation with us and, yes, Happy Trails and a Happy New Year to you and your family, too!


  5. What great photos! I know how you must have felt, seeing your husband get thrown. No fun at all. But your guys look good on a horse, don't they? You too, oh beauteous one. My family always used to go to a family-owned dude ranch in the High Sierras. Not elegant at all, but so much fun.

  6. Sande 0 what amazing photos. This looks like a really fun vacation - totally different to your usual lifestyle - which makes it a real vacation.

    You look SOOO beautiful!!! Glad you enjoyed the food and relaxed at the spa. I think Miss Powder is a sweet horse and I want your boots !!! :)

    Happy New Year to you and your family. Hopefully Daisy had a nice time on her own. Little Daisy would have driven all the horses just crazy. I can just imagine . . .

  7. Looks like a divine time. A place I will surely place on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Looks like a wonderful trip, and if you just show your photo and don't tell anyone, you could get away with folks thinking you were riding. I, however, would much prefer to join in in the .... ah, spa!

  9. Spectacular pictures..... and really cute cowboys too! There is nothing better to end a tough day riding than a wonderful a long massage.

    What a great start to the new year.

  10. Looks like a great vacation. Your son looks pretty dreamy up on that horse and you look fabulous and completely in command. Hope 2012 brings you lots of grand adventures!

  11. Love horses....this looks like it was so much fun! Such a variety of things to do for everyone's tastes. The guys look totally at home in the saddle! I loved reading all about your adventure!

  12. What a fabulous way to spend a family vacation. It looks like such a dreamy place to stay. You may have been apprehensive about riding but you look very at ease on horseback.

    My daughters used to go and stay on a ranch when they were learning to ride and always had the best of times !

  13. Dear Sande,
    Oh my you must have had a gorgeous time at the ranch!! What a beautiful post!! I really enjoyed it!! Beautiful horses!!!
    Love that picture of you!!
    And I see that your husband, who is experienced with horses, can also tumble down!! As I did a few weeks ago! Hope he has no injuries at all!!
    And oh yes, almost forgetten: 'Happy New Year' my friend!

  14. This looks like so much fun. Glad you had a such a great vacation. Yee-ha!!

  15. Sande, this family vacation sounds absolutely the best! Gorgeous countryside, horses, your men, and you...very all looks fab !
    Thank you, thank you for a wonderful year of inspiration and blogging friendship and support. Lots of love, joy and creative fun to you in 2012!

  16. Such a fun vacation...I have thoughts of riding wild in the great Western landscape...until I freeze in fear. I watch my kids galloping on our beach in Maine with such envy...i dream of visiting the tiny country of Mustang where the only means of transportation is on a horse ( this is probably one of the only country that does not have any roads). We once bought a house with stables and paddocks in Massachusetts, took numerous lessons and at the end, resigned myself and in the stables, lived beautiful mountain goats!
    I truly admire your courage!
    Happy new Year

  17. What a lovely post! I have family in Wyoming, although I've never been to the US before. I've read innumerable letters recounting such cowboy/cowgirl expeditions. It seems like you had fun with a capital F on family. Lovely all the way. Many good things to you & yours this year too....

  18. You may not be a threat to Annie Oakley's reputation, but your Christmas as a family together sounds as if it was a wonderful success. Best wishes for 2012.

  19. Sande, this looks amazing! The countryside, the weather and - of course - the cowboys! Great pictures.

    It's one of the things on my "to do this lifetime" list: I want to spend a holiday playing cowboys in Montana... one day :-)

    Wishing you and your family a very happy and successful 2012. I look forward to following more of your stylish posts. Bisous xo

  20. what gorgeous photos! love them and this post.

  21. WoW Sande what a PERFECT Holiday your family had!! Just like a gift wrapped in Ralph Lauren fabric filled with surprise, adventure & fun! You look like a natural on the saddle:)
    I wish you and your family The Very Best New Year Ever!
    Love to you,

  22. Great photos! What a fun idea for a family vacay. You are brave Missy!

    Happy New Year to you and yours

  23. Oh my goodness Sande we almost went out west this Christmas...almost. How I wish we had because we would have stayed at Los Cab! Our family along with family from Ca. have been meeting at Los Cab for Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas for years. My husband's parents live in Wickenburg.
    I have to tell you that enjoying those long breakfasts in the warm sunshine by the pool with all the families and evenings at the main house by that huge fireplace is one of my favorite holiday treasures. I'm so happy that you all had such a wonderful time too! Did you get your boots branded?
    If you all decide to go back to Los Cab let us know!


Your comments are such a lovely addition to my day. Thank you.


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