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Improve your horsemanship on a dude ranch in 2014! When you look back at the history of horsemanship, every type of riding originates from skills necessary for working horses. These range from military horses to those ploughing on farms and used as transport – ridden and driven – and, of course, those exceptional ranch horses who worked from dawn to dusk.

Latigo Ranch Photo: Latigo Ranch, Colorado, USA

Some of the best-trained equines and most skilled riders were those on ranches, so what better place to improve your horsemanship skills. The horse-rider partnerships have historically maintained the cattle herds, driving them over long distances and using highly-skilled techniques, such as cutting. These horses needed to have the perfect balance of obedience and independence, as well as a strong working relationship with their rider. Today, there are still a multitude of ranches who train these highly-qualified horses for work and competition. We have picked some of the best who are opening their gates to share their horsemanship skills with you.

Specialist horsemanship clinics

With modern developments in horsemanship, you can find a wide range of specialist horsemanship holidays to cater for your style of riding and development. These programs allow you to focus completely on improving your skills with the help of experienced professionals.

Ranch Horsemanship Clinic, Chico Basin Ranch, Colorado, USA

Chico Basin Ranch Horsemanship Colorado

Learn ranch horsemanship from Duke Phillips, CEO of Ranchlands. Students will learn to develop their overall horsemanship skills by working cattle in a herd – sorting, cutting and pushing. This clinic is based on the 87,000-acre Chico Basin Ranch, home to over 1,500 cattle and over 125 horses.

Perfect for: Guests who enjoy the variety of working in a corral and out in the open of a ranch.

Availability: July 20 – 26. Contact Chico Basin for more details.

Centered Riding Clinics, Bitterroot Ranch, Wyoming, USA

Bitterroot Ranch horsemanship Wyoming

Enhance communication and cooperation with your horse with this specialist clinic. Applying a wide foundation of knowledge, including human and horse anatomy, balance, movement and how the mind affects the body, this clinic will help you enhance communication and cooperation with your horse. Combining centering and grounding techniques from martial arts, body awareness, mental imagery and sports psychology,

Perfect for: Riders of all abilities who want to improve their performance in the saddle and increase their understanding of how their own and their horse’s body works.

Availability: Dates throughout the year. Contact Bitterroot for more details.

TTEAM Young Horse Training Clinic, Bitterroot Ranch, Wyoming, USA

The Tellington Touch Equine Awareness Method (TTEAM), established by renowned founder and horsewoman Linda Tellington-Jones, is an approach to training, healing and overcoming common resistances in horses. Attendees will be given the unique experience to work with untrained, ranch-bred Arabs, who will be integrated into the ranches exceptional saddle horses in the long term. An additional benefit of the TTEAM approach is a deep rapport that builds between handler and horse, based on increased understanding and more effective communication.

Perfect for: Riders of all levels, especially those with confidence challenges

Availability: Dates throughout the year. Contact Bitterroot for more details.

Reach Out To Horses Clinic, Bitterroot Ranch, Wyoming, USA

Demonstrations, lectures and exercises designed to teach you to connect with your horse through your intention, body language, energy and more. Attendees will also become certified as a Reiki I and II practitioner.

Perfect for: Guests with an interest in the benefits of alternative therapies and wishing to gain a qualification to help others.

Availability: Dates throughout the year. Contact Bitterroot for more details.

Double Rafter Cattle Drives, Wyoming, USA

Double Rafter Cattle Horsemanship Wyoming

A proactive horsemanship clinic which covers everything from saddling and bridling to practical riding skills. Taught by Chris Ellsworth who has trained with big names, such as Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance and Buck Brannaman, and spent two years at Double Rafter after college. The courses have a personal touch as a result – Chris knows every inch of the mountain and the strong of horses. Trips can include natural horsemanship clinics, yoga and Pilates tailored to improve your riding.

Perfect for: Guests who wish to be all-round better horsemen.

Availability: Ladies’ trip June 17 – 21; Cattle drives June 29 – July 5, July 27 – August 1, August 10 – 15, September 14 – 20; Clean Up Ride September 29 – October 5. Contact Double Rafter for more details.

Make horsemanship part of your stay…

If you love horses but you’re not sure that a whole vacation dedicated to equines is for you, then there are still plenty of options to integrate horses into your holiday without missing out on other ranch activities and local attractions. Many ranches allow guests to do as much or as little horsemanship as they desire. Here are just some examples:

Estancia Los Potreros, Argentina

Estancia Los Potreros Argentina Horsemanship

For guests of Estancia Los Potreros, one-to-one training sessions are available with resident horse-breaker Juan Manuel Pizarro (known as Jumi). With methods that are loosely based on Monty Roberts, but draw on techniques from a number of established experts and his own experiences in Argentina, England and Africa, Jumi can offer students approaches that suit their personality and that of their particular horse.

Perfect for: Riders who want to gain a better insight into equitation and horse behaviour

Availability: Any trip from June to December 2014. Contact Esrancia Los Potreros for more details.

Free Rein Ranch, British Columbia, Canada

Free Rein Horsemanship British Columbia

Take advantage of daily horsemanship clinics. With an established riding and handling programme, Free Rein has been particularly praised for their groundwork training which often begins ranch days.

Perfect for: Guests who want the flexibility of choosing how they will spend each day of their stay, while improving their horsemanship skills, too

Availability: May to October 2014. Contact Free Rein for more details.

McGinnis Meadows, Montana, USA

McGinnis Meadows Montana Horsemanship

Offering guests the opportunity to completely immerse themselves in order to improve their horsemanship skills. Including everything from groundwork to advanced moves, the McGinnis program is described as ‘Buck Brannaman-style’.

Perfect for: Keen riders who want to learn as much as they can about their equine friends.

Availability: Year round. See for more information.

The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana, USA

Ranch at Rock Creek Montana view open plains blue sky

Offering a range of clinics, you will be sure you can find the right horsemanship course for you and your family. With everything from child-orientated courses, such as Little Grizzles, to adrenalin-fuelled Arena Games, The Ranch at Rock Creek provides guests with tailored horsemanship experiences. Educational horsemanship courses are available for those who wish to increase their equine knowledge.

Perfect for: Everyone from less-experienced guests to adrenaline junkies. Great for children.

Availability: Throughout the year. Contact The Ranch at Rock Creek for more details.

Vista Verde Ranch, Colorado, USA

Vista Verde horsemanship colorado

Running specialist horsemanship trips for limited numbers each year, Vista Verde provides guests with an intimate experience – you’ll feel like you have the ranch to yourself. This program is all about the pure horsemanship experience – riding, camaraderie during meal times and chill out time. Benefit from the experience of ranch trainer Terry Wegener, National Reining Horse Association money winner, horse trainer and judge. Everything from training young horses to working with your own is covered.

Perfect for: Intermediate level riders.

Availability: Throughout the year. Contact Vista Verde for more details.

Top50 Ranches offers a variety of horsemanship vacations to suit every equestrian enthusiast. From cattle drives and working ranches to the ultimate in horseback riding vacations, Top50 gives you access to quality-checked ranches who will provide amazing experiences that will last you a lifetime.

Soraya Abdel-Hadi

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