My first time ever in a Ranch. My sister Célina who works on this ranch said to me that I would love the life here and that I could come if I wanted to. That wasn’t on my holiday schedule at all but I managed to organize it. I had never been outside Europe either, so this was a big experience for me.
When I arrived to the ranch, I wasn’t considered as a guest but as a new member of the team.
I think I’ve learned more in two days than someone in two weeks. Célina taught me a lot about the ranch: what to do with the horses, every morning and evening we need to chase them from one place to another. Sometimes it’s easy when all the horses decide to be nice, but when one goes in the opposite direction, then the others start to do the same, so that is a bit more difficult.
I rode horses for many years but not during the last three years and here, I discovered the western ride. It was completely different from what I knew. The saddles are very special: they were made a hundred years ago not to fit the rider but for the comfort of the horse. The rider is also very comfy in that saddle; I can tell, mine is like a chair! When you saddle the horses, you don’t need just a saddle but also a breast collar and a croupier because in the mountains you go up and down all the time, so the saddle needs to stay in place, that’s why it needs to be attached in the front and in the back.
When you go on a trip for several days, the guide usually leads a second horse called packhorse because he carries boxes with food, clothes and everything you need for you trip. During my first day here, someone was doing the packing on a wood horse: you need to practise before doing it on the horse. So I watched how to do that and at the same time I’ve learned several knots that are useful to everything here. A few days later, I had the chance to go to Eldorado, a camp in the mountains, six hour ride from the ranch. Célina is a guide now and that was her first pack trip as a leading guide, and for me my first pack trip in the mountains with horses. One of our horses needed new shoes, so I’ve seen how to put shoes on a horse; it’s very precise, the shoes need to fit perfectly to the horse, if not, they will have problems to walk. The next morning we were ready to go to Eldorado with our two guests. We had two pack horses so I needed to remember the things I learned! Then we left for a six hour ride on the horse. That was very nice: no need to walk into the mountains, the horse does it for you! We had a perfect sky, we could see all the mountains around, that was beautiful. When we got to Eldorado, we had to stake the horse: you need to find a big space without any trees to put you horses for the night, it’s usually up in the mountains, 25 minutes from the camp. The horses need to have enough food so that they will not go away. You just put a rope around the foot and attached it to a peace of wood stuck in the soil. We hobbled two horses as well: we put the two front legs together with a rope, that way they could still eat and walk but not too far. The next day, we went to get the horses to the camp, everyone that we staked were there, but the two hobbled were down in the valley, so we had to go down to get them.
The pack trip was really nice, you ride every day for many hours, you climb the mountains, you have beautiful views, it is peaceful. I never thought I would do that one day, but now I am really glad I did it because this was an amazing experience!
Obviously you don’t have only the pack trips in the ranch, you also need to do the everyday things, like «ranch hand»; that’s when we check the fences all around the ranch to see if horses have broken them somewhere and in that case, we need to fix them. The soil is very dry so we need to put some water on it, every two hours we have to move the sprinkles. We have to help in the kitchen, cooking and setting the table. Cleaning and helping those who need it. This is hard work sometimes you need to wake up at five am some days and when you’re not used to it’s difficult, but the life here is so different from my life in France that I don’t mind waking up early.
– Michou, France