The Hideout Blog

The Hideout Blog

Local Flavor

When Hideout Chef, Sheena Ernst, isn’t in the lodge prepping her next delicious creation, you can often find her working in her garden down by the Trapper Creek property. Hideout salads and meals frequently feature the fruits of her labor; fresh herbs, salad leaves, radishes and eggs from the Hideout-owned hens have all graced salad plates this season. Sheena looks forward to adding her very own squash and tomatoes to the menu later on in the year.

Since coming to The Hideout in April, Sheena has made a commitment to employ as many local Wyoming ingredients as possible when planning her lunch and dinner menus. She explains, “I want to know where my food is coming from. With local meat, I know the farmer that raised the product, and am aware of what type of feed and supplements, if any, that have been given to the livestock.”

With freshly butchered, tender Wyoming beef and lamb often featured as the main course here at The Hideout, it’s hard to imagine a better way to eat meat. Guests have responded to local meat with enthusiasm, commenting on how nice it is to be aware of food’s origins and the enrichment it brings to their Western experience. Read more ›

Posted in The Hideout News

This is the first in a series about the “AH” (Authentic Horses) brand and concept. We start by introducing you to the concept behind “Authentic Horses” and the “AH” brand. Thanks to the Peter DeCabooter and Jessica McLavey for putting this together.

If you’re around the barn or out on the trail with our Hideout wranglers, you may notice an increasing amount of our horses sporting the new AH (Authentic Horses) brand. This brand represents a concept formed here at The Hideout with has a simple goal in mind: to create a positive equestrian experience for both horse and rider by fostering an honest, respectful training environment. The AH horses are chosen to enter the training program and wear the brand based on their willingness to learn and develop, rather than basing our selection on bloodlines and other traditional requirements. Read more ›

Posted in The Hideout News

Blogger Peter gives some more information about Kicker, The Hideout’s Extreme Supreme Mustang Makeover Gelding. Ramon and Kicker compete in Ft Worth, Texas in September.

Kicker got his name because he was very wild when picking him up in Canon City Colorado. You can see the footprints of his shoes in the trailer. He also tried to bite Ramon and Peter when they stuck their fingers in the trailer.

On arriving at The Hideout he kicked and bent the tubes of the round pen. As Ramon put the water tank in the pen in no second this was kicked and stepped to pieces. Also Ramon’s jacket got ripped apart.

Kicker is pretty tall for a mustang and 5 years old. He was only gelded in January 2011 after the BLM rounded him up early this year in the Twin Peaks Herd Area (CA-242). Read more ›

Posted in The Hideout News

This blog is written from the perspective of Jessy McLavey – a new Hideout seasonal employee who helps out where needed.

My Life at The Hideout: A Newcomer’s Perspective

Entering my third week of life as a newcomer at The Hideout, I can confidently summarize my experience in two words: welcoming and rewarding.  From the moment I first drove my travel-weary self up to the main lodge last month and met AJ’s warm handshake and Peter’s energetic smile, I knew I had found a place to call my temporary home.

The last few weeks have been a blur of work and learning, and I can say that no two days of working at The Hideout have been quite the same. My tasks have included helping our talented chef, Sheena, plate food and then serving our guests with pride, learning the ins and outs of housekeeping with Guille and her team, doing cattle work alongside wranglers and guests, and helping AJ with the countless tasks of the office and gift store.

It has been a busy few weeks of memorization and execution, and I am beyond thrilled to be working alongside such a talented, encouraging and professional team. The staff here at The Hideout, regardless of their specialization, is truly committed to hospitality; both the guests and the employees seem to feel right at home here at the base of the Big Horns. Read more ›

Posted in The Hideout News

Last year we had pretty good water and the year before also compared to the previous drought years in Wyoming. However this year there will be abundance of water according to Wyoming standards and Big Horn County WSE’s (Water & Snow Equivalents).

Last year officials measured 66 WSE’s which is considered good. This year they measured so far 136 WSE’s, which is abnormal.

What’s in for us? –  A lot of water! 

However depending if the mountains release all this moisture gradually or very fast will determine the amount of floods and damage the water will do. If the mountains gradually release their water, we have pretty much irrigation water during most of the summer as it flows steadily, seeping slowly down to the valley, creeks and streams feeding aquifers, ponds, wells and springs. This happens when the temperatures gradually go up but remain cold and freezing in the high country. During the day some of the water is being released but during night the frost holds the rest of the water in the mountains. Read more ›

Posted in The Hideout News

The Economics of The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch 

 Frequently guests’ remark that Guest Ranching in general is a pricey vacation and they wonder where the money goes, how do we spend the revenue and what they are getting in return.

 Guest Ranches Are an Interesting Breed

 To answer this question one needs to understand a little more about guest ranching as an industry in general. We are a mix of a ranch, hospitality and entertainment, equestrian, outdoors, hotel, restaurant and farming business. We operate mostly seasonal and are usually located in challenging places in terms of logistics: access to population, staff, upkeep of assets like fences (wildlife damage), building maintenance (snow, summer, huge varieties in terms of temperature), the need to feed our life stock 4 months hay in the winter), etc.

 At the same time in the eyes of the government we are not considered a ranch, and the guest ranch industry being a rather small business segment in the big economic picture, does not enjoy subsidies that ranches and farms do. If expenses go up, the weather goes bad, wildlife damage, competition from international & global markets, etc. there is no government institution, unions or a $288 Billion US Farm Bill to help or subsidize us. We are not part of a big hotel chain that can absorb losses nor do we have access to huge marketing and public relations programs.

 We do not enjoy smaller taxes on the property we own the way operational ranches do. 

The North American Dude Ranch Association to which some of us belong and the Wyoming Dude Ranch Association are non-profit organizations and do not subsidize us. We pay a fee and these organizations do an outstanding job maximizing the small contribution we pay. As you can imagine we do not have access to influential big lobby networks, industry unions or farm organizations.

 We have to maintain and manage assets, people and horses year around for a season that provides income during 6 months of the year at best. Many guest ranches only operate 3 months a year.

 This means we are real independent entrepreneurs juggling a lot of different skills to offer you a memorable vacation.  

 To keep things in perspective, we are talking about the guest ranch industry. The ranch & farm side (non hospitality) of a guest ranch does enjoy some of the above mentioned subsidies; however most guest ranches are separate entities operating on their own even when owned sometimes by the same owners or partners.


 As a result of what we explained earlier, some guest ranches,  are undercapitalized and run on a shoe-string to make ends meet.  And like any other business in such situation could take shortcuts on such things like safety, quality, staff, maintenance, etc. which tend to effect your experience. 

Look for your DRA logo when searching for a guest ranch.

 Guest Ranching in North America – how are they organized?

 There are over 1100 guest ranches in North America and Canada. Only 10 % of those are members of The North American Dude Ranch Association to whom we pay a membership fee and who enforces all over standards in terms of hospitality management, safety, education, marketing, advise, etc.

We are also a member of The Wyoming Dude Ranch Association. While the DRA (North American Dude Ranch Association) is one organization, most states have independent Dude Ranch Associations of which not necessarily all members are members of the DRA. 

 Equestrian Travel & Guest Ranching

 Guest Ranching is well known as a concept in North America & Canada however not necessarily in Europe. While of course most guest ranches have horses and horseback riding is one of the main activities, few are really what we call “Riding Ranches”. Many European experienced riders looking for a Riding Experience or Equestrian Vacation Out West, in the Rocky Mountains, the wide open plains, etc. are disappointed when booking a riding vacation at just any guest ranch.

 These riders should look for Riding Guest Ranches where the focus is on Riding & Equestrian, with well trained horses, experienced equestrian staff, on site trainers, diversity of rides, etc. Look for the combination of a Riding & Working Cattle Ranch and you will be sure that the riding is mostly up to par.

 Check out the DRA Horse Safety Certified logo to make sure it is also safe and the staff has been trained to take you out.

 What about The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch ?

 The Hideout is an Upscale; Riding & Working Cattle Ranch riding and enjoying over 250,000 acres.

 The Guest Ranch is limited to 25 people / riders and managed as a business entirely independent from the ranching and farming side of the outfit. However we do share the 250,000 acres, do cattle work for the ranch with our guests and are organized to offer a safe and unique experience. We take pride in always improving your experience. We are well capitalized to make sure we can constantly upgrade our assets, horses, hire the best equestrian seasonal people, keep key staff year around and have great horses.

 The Hideout Horse Program – Authentic Horses

 Having horses does not automatically mean you have a horse program that will satisfy people who know or would like to know about horses…

 When it comes to horses we have a full time trainer on staff who has started over 1500 young, unbroken horses and who is also our head wrangler. He and the team works with all our horses to fine tune them even during the off season.

 Important to realize is that most guest ranches, due to seasonality of the industry and the locations, the “off-season” is basically longer than the guest season. This means that if you do not work with your horses most of that time, there will surely be some issues when the season starts. And once the season is over we also check and ride all our horses to retrain and get the bad habits out that some of them picked up during the guest season. 

We own most of our horses, where many places lease their horses for the season, which means that the horses you ride at The Hideout, are well fed, well shot and once or twice a year a specialized equine vet vaccinates them, flushes teeth and does a general check up. Sometimes we lease additional horses and prior to introducing them to the guest string, we ride each one of them and when they are delivered to The Hideout we put them in quarantine, feed them well, vaccinate and have the vet check them out completely. 

Being a great technical rider and the ability to sit out a buck, does not necessarily mean one really understands horses and how they think. We adopt a Natural & Authentic Horsemanship culture, which means that we hire people meeting the principles of The Hideout 3 C’s to handle our horses, and refrain from applying high pressure unless it is really needed.

 The Hideout Mustangs

 Ramon Castro our trainer and head wrangler is also a BLM certified Mustang Trainer and we have a string of nice, smooth riding mustangs in our guest string of horses.

 While we offer other activities like hiking, 4×4 tours, some excellent fishing & fly-fishing and own a very nice trapshooting range, The Hideout is a riding and working cattle guest ranch which means we can satisfy all levels of riders, including beginners who would like to learn the right way from start, as well as very accomplished riders.

 Authentic Horses

 Our best horses carry the AH brand (Authentic Horses) which we freeze brand and not burn with a hot iron as most places in the west do. The AH Brand is a registered brand with the Wyoming Brand Inspection. And unlike many cowboy outfits we bring in the vet to tranquilize our horses when we freeze brand them. During this process our vet also gives them a complete check up. You can distinguish a freeze brand from a hot iron brand by the white color of the brand. We freeze brand and bring the vet in when we brand horses, because doing it the old fashioned way and not tranquilizing the horses might ruin many months of training because it traumatizes most of the horses.

 Trucks & Trailer Fleet

 We need a sizable fleet of well maintained trucks and trailers to drive every day up the canyon to where the cows are in the mountains. We have never seen a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch where you ride out from the valley at 4200 feet to elevations of 10,000+ feet to go find the animals, work a full day and come down the mountains again. If we would do this, we would not have many guests enjoying cattle work, nor would our horses last long.  This country is simply too remote and most importantly we rotate our herds every 3 to 4 days to prevent overgrazing.  The roads we travel with our vehicles are very abrasive to tires and mechanics. All our vehicles are on a closely monitored safety and preventative maintenance program. All our trucks and trailers are also equipped with additional exhaust and trailer brakes.

 The Kitchen

 As to the food we serve, we prepare most meals from scratch with fresh ingredients from the highest quality. We serve full, warm breakfast and our chefs are always culinary schooled.

 Our Staff

 We hire based on The Hideout Code of Conduct of The 3 C’s which are Character, Conduct and Competence. We know that one can train for Competence, not for the other 2 C’s. This means we do not hire just anybody and our selection and training process is extensive compared to most other guest ranches. All our staff are not necessarily cowboys, but they are well rounded horse people trained in our culture.

 Private Property, Grounds and Buildings

 As you will notice, our cabins, buildings and grounds are very clean and well maintained. We take pride in a clean and nice looking outfit. We own quite a bit of our land which means that there are taxes to be paid and maintenance to be done.

 90 % of our expenses and what you pay goes to the above.

 A Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch vacation could be compared to a rather customized & authentic equestrian boutique experience.

 Where is the other 10 % going?

 While most of the time during your stay at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch you will ride on private property. However during the summer and autumn months we also ride on our public lands. Close to 50 % of the land in the State of Wyoming is owned by the government and we are privileged to operate on The National Forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands under our Recreational Leases. The grazing of life stock on public lands is regulated under the grazing leases of The Flitner Ranch.

 Approx. 10% of your Total Guest Ranch Package Income to The Hideout during the months of July through October is generated on National Forest Service lands. This 10% is taken from the total hours you stay at The Hideout from the moment you arrive to the moment your leave. Our Recreational Lease fee, which is a tax to the government, is calculated as a %.

 Other information that might be useful…

The US Departments that manage our Public Lands

The US Forest Service resides under the US Department of Agriculture.

The US National Parks like Yellowstone National Park reside under The US Department of Interior.

The National Wilderness Preservation System coordinates the wilderness activities of the four federal agencies: Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Services.

The US Farm bill

In the United States, the farm bill is the primary agricultural and food policy tool of the federal government. Every 5 years or so the United States Congress deals with both agriculture and all other affairs under the purview of the United States Department of Agriculture.

It usually amends some and suspends provisions of permanent law, reauthorizes, amends, or repeals provisions of preceding temporary agricultural acts, and puts forth new policy provisions for a limited time into the future. Beginning in 1973, farm bills have included titles on commodity programs, trade, rural development, farm credit, conservation, agricultural research, food and nutrition programs, marketing, etc.

The 2008 Farm bill was a $288 billion, five-year agricultural policy and it continues the United States’ long history of agricultural subsidy as well as pursuing areas such as energy, conservation, nutrition, and rural development.

 The European Farm bill (for our European Friends)

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a system of European Union Agricultural subsidies and programs. It represents 48% (€49.8 billion in 2006) of the EU’s budget.

Posted in The Hideout News

Amazing how time can seem to fly or just stop depending on the circumstances surrounding your emotions. It is as if the whole weekend just flew yet certain moments seemed to be so still, as if going in slow motion. Waking up this morning and driving over to the arena I felt as if I had just arrived in Ft. Collins. Let’s face it today was the culmination of 90 days of training! In retrospect, I think we were all more nervous than Ramon ever was at any given point of the competition.

Cow work was first up on the day’s agenda. We were happy to see that the cows were “good” but we crossed our fingers that Ramon & Castro would get a black cow and not one of the brown or white ones. Apparently, crossing your fingers doesn’t really work so well, and Ramon pulled the only white cow in the lot. Not really sure why we worried, Castro wasn’t even phased by it. The pair worked the cow on the fence, Castro was extremely responsive and I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that Ramon is very fluent in “thinking cow”. They rocked and took home the most points. We were excited as this pushed him up to the first spot in terms of points; he was in the Top Ten officially.

The “top ten” had their official meeting and so Marijn, Deirdre, Sandy McFadden (our neighbor located in Greybull, whose indoor arena Ramon and Castro trained in) and I all went to grab dinner as we had to be back by 6:15pm sharp. With Deirdre’s assistance we were able to recruit the help of three college students who were in the CSU equestrian program, as we only had a short amount of time to set up the props (including a wooden box holding a dog) this was awesome and proved to be very helpful. Ramon had been drawn to go third in the Individual Competition and I have to say I think it was a good spot to be in, not first, not last, but just right!

At this point I will pause and say that up till now we were all under the impression that the points earned in the Individual Freestyle would be added onto the points accumulated thus far to determine the winner. Alas, it was not so. The points accumulated in the technical areas, only determined who would be in the top ten. Once in the top ten it was a clean slate and the overall winner was determined solely from the Freestyle portion. I had a couple choice comments on this scoring method however so it goes!

The first two riders to go did a good job; one rode bridle-less and the other performed a handstand on the saddle and then back flip off his horse. We got a little jumpy when the second performer’s music was the same as ours, luckily only the last portion! Then the judges were talking to the second performer and giving his scores and it was a whirlwind of activity for Team Hideout.

Truck, with props on bed, backed into arena. Run obstacles out and set them up in the proper position. Make sure the rope is in the right spot. Make sure the dog stays in the box. Get the bridge in the proper position. Get out of the arena. And don’t forget to breathe!

Then it was happening. The drum roll started over the P.A. and my arms started to tingle. This was the moment. This was the 4minutes where time would slow down and 90days of hard work were to be judged and critiqued. I had the camera in hand and my hands were lacking a certain steadiness. As the performance progressed I went from a little shaky to all out adrenaline hand tremors. (Makes it a little difficult to hold the camera!) But it was on…

Cue music. Enter arena at a walk, over the bridge and kick through the blanket of balls. Nice job Castro with the rear hoof to the soccer ball. Trot to lope and into right circle, flying lead change and into left circle. Stop, back up, spin to the right and listen to the crown show their appreciation. Stop. Spin to the left and listen to the whistles. The music started to grow louder. Back up Castro. Good job Ramon, into a fast trot, short lope, and over the jump. Perfectly executed jump. Rollback and then trot back to pick up the poll and carry it out of the way. Trot it back to the box; listen to the music start to reach its crescendo. Ramon leans down and grabs a rope on the top of the box and has Castro drag the box forward. Crowd applause. Castro trots back to the box and Ramon leans down to open the box – out jumps Ramon’s dog Panda! The crowd clapped and laughed and “awwww”ed. On command, and with Ramon’s help, Panda sits behind the saddle on Castro. More applause. Now, to the finale…the music continues to play and Ramon has Castro go down into a bow, then all the way to the ground. Off jumps Panda and off comes Ramon. Listen to the music and listen to the crowd as they cheer. After taking the rope off Castro’s foot, Ramon remounts and Castro gets up. 30seconds left. Perfect. Take a trot and take in the crowd’s approval.

Just like that it was over.

I don’t really know how to explain the pride, the joy, the sheer adrenaline rush from watching the performance. For me it was the first time seeing any of the freestyle – to me it looked good. Marijn and I just looked at each other and smiled – words weren’t really necessary. Of course we did need to pay attention to what the judges had to say. The total score given was 76 points. We were happy – it was the second highest performance so far. Ramon came out of the arena and he smiled down at us and said “He was good. It is over!” We just laughed and congratulated him.

Ramon took third place overall and while I could go on about how I think it should have been second (as I think the guy that took second put in a truly great performance as opposed to the guy who took first) – I think that everyone is in agreement that to come in for the first time and place third in a group of contestants who have competed in this event 4, 5, 6& 7 times (it was the 7th time competing for the winning trainer, and his first win) is truly impressive. More impressive is the quality of horse that we have in Castro. Castro was among a group of 4 mustangs that were truly elite of the 50 total. I say that, based not on a slightly biased opinion, but based on the remarks that I overheard from other trainers, from people in the audience, and from the judges. Ramon is proud of his horse and of the work he did. He should be and The Hideout is proud of him. Ramon and Castro represented themselves and The Hideout in the highest standards of class and excellence possible.

ramon3I asked Ramon on the drive to the hotel, “Did you have fun?” He looked at me and just smiled and said “Yes, he was a great horse to train and I am very happy with how we did.” At the end of the day, at the end of 90 days, what else is important? Ramon said “I was asked to train a horse that could perform well, I did my job.” That he did, and he did it excellently.

Congratulation Ramon & Castro – You Rocked It!

Tomorrow is the auction; let’s see if we can bring Castro home.  (update from when this post was written – Castro is coming home to The Hideout)

Posted in The Hideout News


“Beep, Beep, Beep” – Alarm clocks are so awful but this morning I didn’t seem to mind the sound. I was looking forward to what the day would hold. Turns out it was going to be a cup-full-o-Joe kinda day!
Upon arriving at the Arena we (Marijn, Deidre, and I-AJ) went to find Ramon. He was dressed and ready for the coach’s practice. I thought the practice was extremely beneficial. Each contestant went through a practice trail course while their “coach” (Ken McNab in the case of Ramon) watched. Once they went through the coach gave them pointers on what they could do to improve their performance. The same was repeated for the reining, it was like having a mini-clinic prior to the competition. The horses today were a lot more settled and some of the horses that didn’t seem so great yesterday appeared much better behaved and relaxed.
The competition began at 1pm and Ramon was the 36th contestant to go. The trail course was set up in the arena and in a way it was nice to go towards the end as we could watch all the competitors and pick up areas that were causing for problems, or maybe where more points could be accumulated. Only two trainers walked their horses, one a woman who just could not ride her horse and one who was injured and told by her doctor to not ride. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to work your horse for the 90 days and he is ridable but medically not be able to ride him!
I think we all were holding our breath when Ramon entered the arena. He walked his horse to the first cone and mounted. Castro picked up to a quiet trot and went easily over the “fallen logs” and up the bridge. Descending on the other side of the small wooden bridge Castro picked up his trot and snaked through cones towards the last obstacle. The final obstacle was a pattern laid out in wooden logs, Castro had to walk in, back up around a small turn, and then forward out of the obstacle. During the back up, Castro’s back hooves hit the back log and we all cringed but he didn’t step over or out of the obstacle so that was good. Exiting the wooden poles, Ramon asked Castro to go into a lope. Castro followed a figure eight pattern and executed a beautiful flying lead change. It was really a beautiful performance and was greeted with a round of applause by the audience. One down, one to go for the day.
There wasn’t a big break before the arena was cleared and made ready for the reining portion of the competition. This time Ramon was number 18 to go, he had several conversations with Ken McNab regarding the lead changes and the pattern. I went and sat in the stands in front of Mary and kids and held my breath. It was a thing of beauty. Ramon entered the arena at a fast walk, came to a trot and backed up Castro. Castro collected amazingly and when he went into his fast circles it was on the correct lead and at a fast pace. The lead changes were just gorgeous and when Ramon moved into his first stop, the crowd showed their approval with a round of applause. Castro’s head went up a little bit high but his hind quarters came under and he slid. He did a perfect turn and Ramon let him out for the second sliding stop, better than the first. Hoots, whistles and cheers erupted from the grandstand and the trainers section. To follow were the turns, two per side – after a slight hesitation Castro did what was asked of him. His back hoof barely left the pivot and he stopped on a dime. When Ramon tipped his hat to the judges the Hideout crew just erupted in a yell – I think we all had tears in our eyes, and you could see the grin on Ramon’s face. It wasn’t perfect but it was pretty durn good.
We stayed through till the 7pm team relay and it was just allot of fun – for the trainers and the audience. We were all waiting for the scores, but upon leaving at 9pm, they still weren’t up and the barn lights were shut off. Going to bed that night we watched the video one more time, high-fived each other and set our alarms to be in the barn first thing in the morning. We want to see the scores!
Saturday (tomorrow) is the cow work and then individual competition for the top ten finalists. Another long day for the horses and trainers. Yet is will be another adrenalin filled day of excitement for the trainers to show what each horse is capable of – Another amazing experience for everyone that is involved in this competition. Can’t wait to see what happens.
Posted in The Hideout News

Truck, hooked up and ready to go –  Check. Dog – Check. Mustang – Double Check. Trainer, Excited yet Calm – Triple Check. Load up, Ft. Collins here we come! The Hideout entourage (Ramon, Maricella, their kids, Marijn, AJ & Deidre) headed off to Ft. Collins, CO to get checked-in and settled in for the first day of the Extreme Mustang Makeover (EMM). After 90 days of training it was finally the weekend everyone has been waiting for. The support from guests has just been unparalled and Team Hideout rolled out knowing that the full support of those who could not make it followed with them on the journey.

Pulling into the B.W. Pickett Arena a collective sigh was heard from all followed by the check-in which was organized and smooth. All the contestants are being housed in the branding stables of the Colorado State University (CSU) Equine Research Facility. The stable is impressive. After Ramon did all the paperwork, Castro was unloaded, paint branded with a hip number (6) and settled into his stall. For a horse who has never been in an indoor stable area (or housed in a stall) he was calm and steady- the same can’t be said of all the mustangs. An objective (and opinionated) critiquing session from our group, found the rest of the mustangs to be an impressive variety in horse confirmations and colorings. About 90% of the mustangs were small and narrow chested. In comparison to most, Castro is well muscled and overall well-built, a biased Hideout oppinion would say there are only a handful of the mustangs that match him in the looks department.

 At five o’clock there was a trainers meeting. Once all the rules, regulations, and formal introductions were made it was off to the arena for a 30sec self-introduction to judges and audience and 90sec “performance” by each competitor. This competition is the flagship (so to speak) for the EMM to have a “team competition.” In the team competition, Al Dunning and Ken McNabb would be acting as “coaches” for Team A and Team B. In the 90sec performance each competitor would show off what they could bring to the table and the coaches would decide if they wanted that rider on their “team”.

The riders went in hip number order. Hip #1 scratched, and we were surprised to see that not all the trainers are able to even ride their horses. Ramon introduced himself in an ever dashing fashion: taking off his hat, thanking the arena for the opportunity and saying what an amazing experience this has been. And then it began. Words can’t explain our teams feeling watching Ramon and Castro in those 90seconds. Ramon started with the beginning of a reining pattern. Flying lead changes were performed in stunning execution followed by several beautiful stops. Man and horse were one. Man and horse ended by executing two reining circles. When the trainers in the arena watching let out some hoots in appreciation, you know something is happening. Marijn, AJ & Deirdre were breathless and all grinning from ear to ear. We have a winner in Ramon and Castro. 

Based on the overall performances of the day I would say that we can preliminarily pick who the top 8 are. Some of the competitors will be a force to be reckoned with and it won’t be a walk in the park. However, I would say that Ramon is without a doubt the best horseman in the arena. He has a connection with his horse like something akin to “Avatar” – they are plugged in together. It is amazing and I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the performances as the days progress.

 Tomorrow morning is the “Coach’s Workout” and we will find out which team Ramon is on and with what coach. 1pm is the Individual Competition in the Reining and Trail Course. It is a big day, we are all excited but not nervous. We are confident. We are confident in our trainer and in our mustang.

 More to come…(For more on the event visit and click on Ft. Collins link)

Posted in The Hideout News

With the Extreme Mustang Challenge quickly approaching, Ramon has been working harder than ever with Castro. A portion of the competition involves correctly executing a reining pattern. This past week The Hideout was pleased to host Dominique Reynaud and Jean-Pierre MrArrot (JP), both of whom are top French horsemen specializing in reining competitions. Bet you didn’t know that Europe has a highly competitive reining circuit; top producing countries are France, Italy, and Belgium! (  Dominique and JP spent the week working with Ben and Ramon in the arena on the finer techniques of the sport. (Check out Dominique’s website IMG_8817

So what is reining exactly? According to the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), founded in 1966, reining is a “judged event designed to show the athletic ability of a ranch type horse within the confines of a show arena.” For the NRHA shows there are ten approved patterns and horse and rider must perform one of the ten patterns. Typically patterns involve small slow circles, flying lead changes, 360 degree spins done in place and, of course, the amazing sliding stops. ( for more info!)

(Watch 2007 NRHA Championship Ride

Under the tutelage of Ramon, and guidance of Ben, Castro is coming along. Our esteemed French guests remarked that Castro has good potential as a reining horse and there is no reason Ramon shouldn’t win the competition. Well, we agree with the last part for sure!

Other happenings this month is a “Wrangler Safety Training” that Ben, Shawn, Marijn, and Luke attended in Jackson Hole.  In June, Ben and Marijn will be going up to Billings for a two day “Horsemanship and Cattle” clinic with Richard Caldwell ( What does this mean for you the guest? That our wranglers have more info stuffed under their hats to share with you!

Posted in The Hideout News