Cattle Work at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch
Many guests come to The Hideout to get a taste of working cattle, learn how to work cattle or experience life on a working cattle guest ranch in Wyoming.
There is usually an opportunity for our guests to participate in cattle work. The art of working cattle is called stockmanship. We use the Bud Williams Stockmanship method or “low stress” methods to handle our livestock. You can compare low stress stockmanship to natural horsemanship with the goal of putting the least stress possible on the animal.
We always keep a small herd of yearlings at The Hideout or Trapper Creek Ranch for our guests to enjoy and learn the basics of stockmanship.
Managing Expectations for Working Cattle
Our goal is to manage expectations and make sure you enjoy your vacation. We want to meet the goals you set when booking your stay at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch. It is very important to know that planning and predicting what will be available in terms of working cattle depends on many things that are not in our control.
All farm and ranch work is unpredictable and hard to plan ahead of time.
Dealing with live animals, unpredictable weather patterns and other organizations makes advance planning difficult. For this reason, we have a number of yearlings available at The Hideout for our guests to work during weeks there is little or no cattle work on the range.
Different Seasons – Different Riding
In spring you might ride and explore 100,000 acres of BLM pasture in the Shell Valley and beyond. On some of the public lands closer to Cody, the wild Mustangs of McCullough Peak roam. If we are lucky we might catch a glimpse of these majestic animals. During the spring we ride at elevations from 4,200 and 5,400 ft.
During summer as the snow melts from the higher elevations, we begin to ride more into the mountains. The highest elevation we ride is approximately 10,500 feet. While in the valley the temperatures may vary between 85 and 95°F, you will enjoy much cooler rides in the mountains varying from 70 to 85°F. You will ride on private land as well as Big Horn National Forest recreational leases, and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the country with pine forests, alpine meadows, creeks and mountain lakes. We typically ride in the mountains and National Forest until the 30th of September.
October to early November as the snow starts falling and the hunters move in we ride again on the public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management at elevations ranging from 4,200 to 8,000 feet.
Ride out or Trailer Up
Combining the private land we ride with Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forest and Cloud Peak Wilderness permits, we have access to approximately 650,000 acres of land to ride in a rarely seen diversity of country and elevations. There is no way to ride, work or explore that much land riding on horseback out from the ranch, so like the cowboys on big ranches covering thousands and thousands of acres, you will rarely leave the ranch on horseback. For most rides we load up the horses in stock trailers pulled by heavy duty 4×4 trucks and drive to the beginning of a route where no vehicle can travel and only horses can take you.
Your wrangler will load up the horses in a trailer (6 horses per trailer), and together with a group of riders, you will go to where the rides starts or where cattle work is needed. The horses are unloaded, bridled and the wrangler and a maximum of five guests ride out to do the day’s work or ride on the range. After a hearty and delicious lunch and afternoon work, you return to the trailer at the end of the day, load up the horses and drive back to The Hideout.
At the barn we unload, unsaddle, brush and feed the horses. Our horses are well trained athletes and we take care of them accordingly.
All of our trucks are well maintained, equipped with exhaust (Jake) and trailer brakes, and our staff are trained in handling this equipment in a safe and effective way.
Having access to a fleet of seven trucks and trailers gives us an enormous flexibility to explore new country and rides.
Stockmanship or Low Stress Livestock Handling
Stockmanship refers to the techniques used to handle livestock in a low stress way whenever working, moving, sorting, or doing anything involving cattle or other livestock.
You could define it as communicating with cattle in such a way that is respectful and limits stress. Or like some say “Be as gentle or intense as needed, but if you can get it done without stressing the animal do it that way”.
During most of the season we have a small herd of cattle at The Hideout who graze our little 200 acre pasture at the creek bottom. A fun day is learning the techniques of moving cattle in the arena and then riding out to gather these naughty boys and girls driving them through the creek, uphill, through the woods and into the arena.
After this, guests can enjoy team penning, sorting and other “cattle games” on horseback. This is an ideal controlled setting to practice. Many guests prefer practicing cattle work with our small herd compared to the work on the range.
Beginning, Intermediate, or Experienced Riders
Cattle work can be enjoyed by all levels of riders. The novice rider might help keep the herd together while the other guests ride out with the wranglers to round up cattle and drive them towards the herd we are moving. Maybe you and one of the wranglers will ride out to sort some strays out of the timber or ride ahead to see if all fences are open or closed.
Wranglers, Cowgirls, Cowboys and Riding Guides at The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch
To enhance your time spent in the saddle, you may experience a rotation of experienced, knowledgeable guides.
Several of our wranglers are year round employees because it takes several years to learn the terrain and the skills to wrangle both guests and cattle and make it a worthwhile, safe and exciting experience. The Hideout takes pride in the high number of repeat guests for whom part of the experience is to see familiar faces they trust year after year.
Our wranglers are personable and attentive with guests, and they shoulder much of the responsibility for the care of the cattle. The horses you ride are the horses we ride. We take great care in matching horse and rider to assure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Safety is key
Experience and knowledge are vital to providing our guests with the most rewarding rides. You will encounter a wide variety of terrain, and it is not uncommon to encounter large temperature variations. Your riding opportunities will change depending on weather, location and difficulty of terrain.
Please also read our page Trail Riding in which you will find more very useful information on riding at The Hideout Lodge & Guest