RIDING HOLIDAYS are ideal for families that thrive on thrilling adventures. Here, specialist tour operator, Ranch Rider, selects six of the best ranches suited to tots, tweens and teens.
Proof that horses make a family riding holiday, guests of Arizona’s White Stallion Guest Ranch have the opportunity to vote for the ‘Horse of the Month’, the winning mount receiving a ‘carrot cake’, a bath and a massage.
Those aged six to 12 years will enjoy going west in Wyoming. The Native Americans used to paint their horses with war symbols before going into battle, an historic activity on offer for children at the Goosewing Guest Ranch
. Tomahawk throwing, archery, kids only horseback rides and animal tracking are also on the list of pursuits, the ranch being complete with its own western town including the Willow Kid Saloon which is strictly for under 18s. For a Wild West adventure you will not forget, reserve the family teepee and enjoy a night out under the stars. Seven nights with Ranch Rider from £2,200pp (two sharing) and from £1,869pp (six to 12 years) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, taxes and gratuities. Weekly departures until 23 August. Excludes transfers from £150 (per group) from Jackson and return flight from £859pp and from £748pp (under 12 years).
Save 20% (£1,122) on a riding holiday for a family of four at Colorado’s Zapata Cattle & Bison Working Ranch
. Children from seven years will have the option to round up the herd and break into a canter across the back of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The ranch’s work is structured around conservation, and there are always plenty of pursuits to stimulate young minds, including horseback rides to view the wild bison, interpretive nature hikes and optional photography tours with professional photographer Stephen Weaver. Six nights with Ranch Rider from £1,259pp (two sharing) and from £1,009pp (seven to 16 years) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, use of ranch facilities, taxes and gratuities. Excludes transfers of £100 return (per vehicle) from Alamosa and return flight from £895pp and from £779pp (under 12 years). Full ranch stay price for adults £1,570pp and £1,259 (seven to 16 years). Discount valid on weekly stays during August when two adults and two children are booking. Saving per adult £311pp and £250pp (seven to 16 years).
For toddler-friendly ranching, book a week-long stay at Idaho’s Red Horse Mountain Guest Ranch
. One of very few North American ranches to let little ones (three to six years) hit the trail, the knowledgeable wranglers walk right alongside children on their daily ride across the valley floor. Also tot friendly, there is a challenge course, zip line and the chance to go kayaking. The ranch features an adult-only five-course dinner part-way through the holiday, while the little ones are entertained by the kids’ counsellors. Six nights with Ranch Rider from £2,298pp (two sharing) and from £1,784pp (three to 11 years) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activites, taxes and gratuities. Weekly departures through to 22 August. Excludes transfers £60pp from Spokane and return flight from £849pp and from £739pp (under 12 years).
For exhilarating horseback adventures, head for Montana’s Sweet Grass Guest Ranch. Over the summer, when the high water drops from the spring run-off, older children can ride their mounts bareback to various swimming holes along Sweet Grass Creek. Running straight through the ranch, the creek is also ideal for tubing, and ‘Hell Roaring’ is an aptly named natural water slide. There is no formal children’s programme, but this ranch has kids covered, the property having been formally a summer camp. Seven nights with Ranch Rider from £1,323pp (no single supplement) and from £1,045pp (seven to 11 years) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities and taxes. Weekly departures through to 13 September. Excludes car hire from £243, gratuities left to discretion and return flight from £859pp and from £748pp (under 12 years).
Want to hit the beach and the trail? At La Reata Working Ranch
you can do both, the property being located in Saskatchewan’s River Valley along the shores of Lake Diefenbaker. Children from eight years have the option to ride across the open prairies and check the herd – the wranglers teaching families how to rope on the dummy steer and refereeing games of barrel racing. Swimming, boating, canoeing and water skiing are available down by the lake, the 200 kilometre stretch of sandy beach being perfect for family picnics. Seven nights with Ranch Rider from £925pp (two sharing) and from £619pp (eight to 12 years) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities and taxes. Weekly departures from now through 30 September. Excludes car hire from £289, gratuities as left to discretion and return flight from £959pp and from £835pp (under 12 years).
Colorado’s Vista Verde Luxury Guest Ranch runs a teenage campout throughout the summer months. Even the legendary Big Foot has been known to put in an appearance – a cowboy dressing up in a Sasquatch costume and making scary bear-like noises as the kids roast s’mores round the campfire. Also scheduled is a ‘Dine & Dash’ dinner three times a week. While the brood eat and run to enjoy hayrides, treasure hunts or games of Capture the Flag, the adults sit down to enjoy a candlelit dinner. Visitors can round off the family adventure with all-day picnic rides and hot-air ballooning. Seven nights with Ranch Rider from £2,802 (no single supplement) and from £2,347pp (six to 11 years) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, taxes and gratuities. Weekly departures through to 23 August. Excludes car hire from £243 and return flight from £819pp and from £713pp (under 12 years).
Ranch Rider offers add-on self-drives in the US and Canada from £1,140 (two sharing), including accommodation and car hire for a family of four.