Hideout Riding Program – All About Riding!
Throughout the equestrian and riding world, dude and guest ranches do not always enjoy a good reputation for great riding and horsemanship. Intermediate and experienced riders, as well as people who would like to know more about horses, horsemanship and riding in general, do not often choose to visit a guest ranch to learn more about riding, training and the care of horses.
Years ago, The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch decided to buck this trend and is committed to providing an excellent riding and horsemanship experience within the fuller experience of a Wyoming guest ranch.
Fundamental ingredients to a great riding vacation are professionalism, safety, respect, honesty and care. The Hideout delivers this wrapped up in a whole lot of fun, excitement and accomplishment. Whatever we do and whoever we interact with, be it guests, staff, horses, livestock, dogs, the environment, neighbors or any other stakeholder, we operate with these principles in mind.
Definitions of Beginner, Intermediate and Experienced
Defining riding levels is where honesty, respect and safety come into play. Some beginners rate themselves intermediate, some intermediate rate themselves as experienced professionals. Most truly experienced riders will understate their riding ability as they want to learn, and know they are riding new horses in a new environment. This can be said as well for many intermediate riders. Some cultures are more optimistic, and some are very conservative when it comes to rating their riding ability. If you have questions about determining your riding level, you are welcome to call The Hideout and discuss this further.
All serious riders will recognize professionalism, care, safety and respect when they see it. They will appreciate honest feedback and trust that we are professionals in what we do.
Why Does this Matter?
The key to successfully operating a ranch for all levels of riders, including experienced riders, is as follows:
1. Culture and Attitude
The owners and managers of The Hideout are very involved with the well-being of guests and horses. This sets the standard for the entire ranch as it will trickle down to every wrangler and team member. Riding ability and horsemanship are a priority in selecting the wranglers who guide your rides and conduct lessons.
2. The Horse Program
The Hideout owns most of our horses and when we lease horses, we work with partners who care about their horses. We lease the same horses year after year, so we know these horses as well as we know our own. We treat all our horses, regardless of the owner, with the same care and respect. Every horse is enrolled in the same veterinary and farrier program and are handled with equal respect. Each season we have approximately 130 horses for 25 riders weekly. We have different levels of horses for different levels of riders. For our advanced guests we will first check out their riding skills, softness of hands and if the rider is really in control of their horse before mounting them on one of our finely trained high-level horses.
3. Riding & Safety Orientation
Because we care, our Riding & Safety Orientation for new guests on Monday morning is thorough. The initial orientation is key to the safety and well-being of horse and rider. It is an important ingredient to a great riding week where guests will learn about themselves, horses and horseback riding. All experienced and professional riders rate our orientation as one of the most complete in the industry. We take great pride in it.
4. Guest to Horse Ratio is Respectful
Safety is driven by respect and by having horses who are treated with respect. This means that The Hideout needs many horses to make sure they get ample rest and have time to settle both physically and mentally. In horse language this means time in the pasture with all his or her horse friends. With 130 horses and approximately 25 riders weekly, we have one of the highest horse to guest ratio’s in the industry.
5. Wranglers, Guides and Trainers
All our wranglers work at The Hideout because they want to work here, they enjoy working here and have specifically chosen our ranch because of all the reasons mentioned on this page. All have good riding backgrounds and many of them have both English and Western training. This is important, because many of our guests have an English riding background. This includes guests from within the United States and our ever-growing international guests who ride all over the world. We also work with outside natural horsemanship trainers and all our wranglers are familiar with their methods to ensure consistency.
Consistent with our horse program, it is no surprise that we take pride in The Hideout tack room. During our Sunday ranch tours, guests rate visiting the tack room as the highlight of the tour. All the tack is of very good quality, well maintained, and there is plenty of it. Our tack room is very clean and organized. Unlike barns where outsiders are not allowed in the tack room, we welcome guests and showcase what we do and how it looks.
7. Training & Clinics
Every week during the season we offer a half-day natural horsemanship demonstration clinic. For guests who would like to learn more, we organize special full week clinics and at Trapper Creek Ranch, a few miles down the road, we offer multiple week-long horsemanship clinics conducted by clinician Farrah Green. These clinics are limited to 4 participants only and are operated separately from The Hideout. However, the same principles apply. Our trainer uses some Hideout horses in the clinics and the tack room is maintained at the same standards as The Hideout. It is important to all of us to keep learning and for this reason consider our Horsemanship Clinic Center as our own learning center.
8. Terrain and Scenery
We ride on approximately 650,000 acres in elevations ranging from 4,200 feet in the Shell Valley to approximately 11,000 feet in the Cloud Peak Wilderness where the highest peak is 13,000 feet. There is a rarely seen diversity of scenery and terrain to ride and explore. Wide open prairie vistas, rugged foothills, canyons, high desert sage covered hills, creek bottoms and forests will greet you in the valley. The local red Chugwater formations look like the scenery in Sedona, Arizona. Up in the Big Horn Mountains you will ride through pine forests, creeks, alpine meadows and nearby lakes and reservoirs. The Shell Valley and Big Horns host one of the most challenging 100 Mile Endurance races on horseback. We ride in much of that same country. To explore this vast and exciting area, we use seven heavy duty diesel trucks and stock trailers to take out guests and horses.
9. Riding at The Hideout and Pace of Rides
If you want to come to The Hideout to ride a couple hours at breakneck speed and only want to go fast, you are coming to the wrong place. We adapt the pace of rides to the terrain and out of respect to our horses and all riders. Weather will also dictate how fast we ride and where we ride. We will split up riders based on riding experience and ability to control their horse in all paces. If guests of different levels want to ride together, we will adapt the pace to the lowest riding level. Experienced guests will ride a higher level of horse than the beginners. No matter what, you will find riding at The Hideout exhilarating, breathtaking and a whole lot of fun. Please read more on this at “Riding at The Hideout”.
10. Who are your riding partners at The Hideout?
We take pride in a very diverse group of guests and repeat guests from around the world and from different riding backgrounds. While many come for a great guest ranch experience, a growing number of riders return to The Hideout because they seek a great riding vacation. We have an ever-growing repeat guest ratio, with some guests returning more than once each season. Word of mouth is our best advertising. The same goes for our staff and crew. Most of them have returned for many seasons and some have worked for us for over 20 years. Many members of our team including owners, managers and kitchen staff used to be repeat guests of The Hideout.
11. Respectful, relationship-based horsemanship
We treat horses and communicate with horses as much as possible like horses treat one another. It is relationship based, respectful and natural. Applying as little and as much pressure as needed. Being light when we can and being firm when we need to be firm. It is important to know that horses are not motorbikes, four-wheelers or SUV’s. If you are looking to treat horses that way, this is the wrong destination.
12. To summarize it all – Safety
While horseback riding is a dangerous sport, our riding culture will limit accidents because guests are surrounded by a professional, caring and experienced team. You are surrounded by a caring hospitality, horse and leadership culture. That is key to preventing accidents.