Posts Tagged ‘Dude ranches’

The Whiskey Gentry meets Goosewing Ranch

September 10th, 2015 by Amy Worster

The Whiskey Gentry

The Whiskey Gentry

Just over a month ago we had a very special band come visit us at the ranch. The Whiskey Gentry boasts an excellent collection of covers and original songs which they serenaded our guests with while they were here. It started with Jason, guitarist and overall band savant (on occasion referred to as “head honcho” if you will), and his arrival at Goosewing Ranch nearly two months prior. Then, he did not come as a rising superstar, but as one of two sons celebrating their father’s birthday.

Jason with his guitar and cowboy hat

Jason with his guitar and cowboy hat

It was easy to befriend Jason and Tim, as well as their enigmatic father, Bob. Soon enough, we learned of the Atlanta-based band, whose music shines a modern and edgy light on the blend of bluegrass and traditional country, and Jason’s casual mention that they would be in the Jackson area in a mere handful of weeks. Bob and his sons departed the ranch a few days later (not without style: never did I imagine my job would include banging on their cabin door at four thirty in the morning so they wouldn’t miss their shuttle to the airport), and three weeks passed before it occurred to me that The Whiskey Gentry should be passing through our area soon.

Price, quite happy about the double rainbow

Price, quite happy about the double rainbow

A few emails later, and we shook electronic hands that they’d come stay with us for two nights and give our guests some good entertainment. The ranch quivered with excitement; most of the staff recalled Jason and Tim with fondness, and knew the company he kept couldn’t be that bad. We were greeted with grins, and quickly introduced to the five strangers spilling out of the van after Jason; Lauren and Rurik, Price, Sammy, and Jeremy. Their energy was infectious, snaking through the ranch as they took it all in; it carried through to their performance.

Lauren and Jason

Lauren and Jason

We took them on a trail ride; besides being good musicians, they were funny, kind, and easy to get along with. They took goofy pictures and one brought home a souvenir: a baby elk leg we found along the trail next to some wolf prints. Overall, these were some pretty cool dudes, and you should check them out.



This post was written by Sara Massery, who is experiencing her first season at Goosewing Ranch,as the Office Assistant. She hails from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and has just completed her B.A. in English Writing and Literature at Emmanuel College. She was looking for an adventure, and she found one.

Survival of the Fittest

June 3rd, 2015 by Amy Worster


Gros Ventre Slide seen from Shadow Mtn.

On June 23, 1925, a landslide on Sheep Mountain dammed up the Gros Ventre River with a high tower of rocks and dirt. Lower Slide Lake was born in the following flooding, only six miles from the town of Kelly, Wyoming. Over the next two years, the lake filled in, and the nature-made dam held. But in May of 1927, just before a huge election between Kelly and Jackson, a portion of the dam broke. The town of Kelly—which was favored to win—suddenly found itself under six feet of water, at least temporarily, and Jackson “won by a landslide.”

When you drive by Slide Lake, the scar of earth is still apparent on the mountain; an ugly welt of naked dirt among a landscape of crisp green pines. At the edge of the road above the lake you can see the gravel and rocks that were pushed as far as they would go and then abandoned, broken and forgotten about. Long-dead trees stand in solidarity near the center of the lake, barren and eerie but still very much present. There were things interrupted here, and the land can’t forget it yet.

Coming to Goosewing Ranch, I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to fall in love with the area, but I wasn’t sure if it was possible. I dreamed of being so happy here that I would stay, and that has a lot to do with where my life is headed: straight into a tunnel of Unknown, where thinking of my future is exactly like being caught in a landslide. When I got here, it almost felt like this was life pushing the pause button. Work here… and then what?

There is a group of trees at the base of Sheep Mountain that were not always there. Their place of origin was at the top of the mountain. When the landslide happened, the trees went with it. But instead of dying, uprooted, they replanted themselves. And we’re not talking a few trees, but a square mile of them. They found a safe place and stuck with it. The trees you can see today are the same ones from 1925, and that says something about these trees’ commitment to existence.

That’s the thing about sliding down a mountainside, or flying across the country to live in a new place: it’s foreign, it’s terrifying, but it’s most definitely survivable. And maybe it’s better than where we started, even if we don’t know how long this haven is going to last.


This is Sara Massery’s first season at Goosewing Ranch, where she is the Office Assistant. She hails from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and has just completed her B.A. in English Writing and Literature at Emmanuel College. She’s very excited for the summer ahead!

The Beginning of a Journey

May 26th, 2015 by Amy Worster

sara at yellowstoneI graduated from college on May 9th, and six days later I was on a plane headed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The time I spent in the airport—a total of about four hours across two layovers—didn’t feel real, and my impending adventure was suspended above my head. I had flown alone before to visit family, and this didn’t feel any different. When the plane touched down in Jackson—that was when it hit me: I was in for one unique summer. I walked off the ramp and almost stopped short.

Growing up in the western part of Massachusetts, I was used to the way the mountains encircled the town. We were in the foothills of the Appalachians, after all, and I liked their rounded tops and the way they protected my town from bad weather. These were different. These mountains were so sharp they could cut the sky if it got too close. Home, spring was in full bloom. Here, the air was crisp and light and there was still snow on the mountaintops.

On the day I arrived, the trees clung to the fog. The tops of the mountains were obscured by fat clouds that yearned to touch the ground. We passed Slide Lake and the Grey Hills, and around every corner I kept wondering, how close are we?

I know the distance of forty miles. On a highway, it would take less than forty-five minutes to drive. I thought the wilderness of the Gros Ventre River Valley and the Grand Teton National Park might be exaggerated, but nothing could have prepared me for the trek to Goosewing Ranch. The road passes the small town of Kelly and climbs upwards into the park. From there, it could be equated to a mild roller coaster ride. Sometimes you can see the road extend into the distance for a mile; other times you might question if it even continues after this hill; it is always winding and twisting. And my perception of forty miles changed—it took nearly an hour and a half to drive that distance here. Finally, there it was: the ranch spread out in front of us, as glorious (even in the rain) as the pictures that I had pored over during the previous months.

I wake up each morning excited for the day ahead, for the work we’re doing to make this ranch the best it can be for our guests. I am nearly bursting with excitement waiting for the guests to arrive, because they’ll make my new home come alive with activity. I’ve been here for almost a week, which is the same amount of time most of our guests will be here, and I know that’s not enough for me; I’m not done with this place yet. And I can bet you will feel the same.



This is Sara Massery’s first season at Goosewing Ranch, where she is the Office Assistant. She hails from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and has just completed her B.A. in English Writing and Literature at Emmanuel College. She’s very excited for the summer ahead!

Treat yourself to an All-Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation….

October 30th, 2012 by Amy

For many a Dude or Guest Ranch vacation seems like a good way to spend a lot of money for doing work instead of relaxing.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, some Ranches are a bit pricy, but once you take into account that most are All- Inclusive than the sticker shock is greatly reduced.  Guest Ranch vacations have been a part of our history and our economical evolution since the 1880’s.  Guest Ranch vacations are a family friendly environment about Hats, Hospitality, Horses and more.  Try a new adventure this year and discover the the cowboy in you.

Like many cruises and beach resorts, Guest Ranches are a package deal with something for every traveler, and family member.  Why should Mom have to sacrifice doing what she enjoys because Dad wants adventure, and face it the boys don’t always enjoy having to follow their sister around all vacation either.  At Goosewing Ranch we have activities and adventures for everyone, from the single explorer to the diverse family reunion.  Let Mom enjoy reading a book by the pool or treating herself to a massage (included in a 7 night package), while the boys go fishing or exploring on the Polaris Ranger, and little Suzie goes on a horseback adventure with like minded young ladies.  Experiencing the Wild West together is also a great way to reunite a family or bond the vows during a honeymoon.

With an all-inclusive package you will receive lodging with modern accommodations and amenities, meals prepared by an expert culinary artist, entertainment and activities.  Guest Ranches have all the hospitality and charm that is expected of a Southern B&B, with the activities of a top notch resort, and service of a high end hotel, with scenery and views worth escaping the real world for.

Goosewing Ranch in Jackson Hole Wyoming is a member of the Dude Ranchers Association ensuring an authentic ranch experience from start to finish.  We have a season fitting for singles, groups of friends, couples, families, or reunions.  Go ahead make your neighbor jealous and book your Guest Ranch adventure at the base of the Tetons and bordering Yellowstone National Park at Goosewing Ranch, in Jackson Wyoming.  Where you will enjoy everything from horseback riding through the mountains; fly fishing the streams and Gros Ventre River, to target shooting, archery, hiking, and more.

Just remember you get more than sand in your shorts with a Guest Ranch vacation, you will go home with lasting memories and experiences that the family will talk about for generations.

Giddy Up at Goosewing Ranch

September 15th, 2012 by Amy

Horse TrottingMany guests that come to visit Goosewing Ranch have seen a lot of western movies and have seen the silver screen cowboys racing across the plains at a gallop and they want to do the same. They often do not know, however, that there are more than just two speeds for a horse. A gait is the rhythm that horse’s legs move at. It determines both the speed you are traveling at, and how you need to position your body to make riding more comfortable and controlled.
The slowest gait that a horse has is one everyone is familiar with, the walk. In a walk, the horse picks up one foot at a time and follows a four beat rhythm. An average speed for a horse to walk at is around four miles per hour.
The next fastest gait is the trot. The trot is similar to a jog and the horses’ hooves hit the ground on a two beat rhythm. The hooves move diagonally to each other. An example of this would be front right hoof and rear left hoof on the ground at the same time, and then switching to front left and rear right. As you can imagine, alternating between two sets of legs rapidly can cause the rider to get bounced around on the horses back. In Western riding the rider ‘sits’ the trot, which means the rider stays down in the saddle and lets their lower back absorb the shock. Sitting the trot is not particularly easy, or comfortable, so at Goosewing Ranch we encourage guests to learn how to post. Posting is an English riding technique where the rider falls into rhythm with the horse and rises out of the seat rhythmically to keep from bouncing off. An average speed for a trot is eight miles per hour. Contrary to what you see in the movies, people travel on horseback at a trot and not a faster gait because horses have a hard time maintaining a faster speed over long distances.
The lope is a three beat gait that is faster than a trot, and slower than a gallop. It is also known in English riding as cantering. A horse will propel itself forward on one of its hind feet, catch itself on the opposite diagonal foot, and then on the final beat catch itself on its remaining front foot. Basically the horse alternates between two feet on the ground and one foot on the ground. While this might sound more complicated, loping is much smoother than trotting and many people prefer it. The key to staying in the saddle while loping is to ‘sit deep.’ In layman’s terms sitting deep means ‘keep your butt in the saddle.’ You have to find the rhythm of the horse and fall into it while focusing on not letting yourself come up and out of the saddle. Loping speeds can vary quite a bit, but average between ten and seventeen miles per hour.
The fastest gait a horse can manage is the gallop. Galloping involves the horse driving themselves forward with all four feet leaving the ground. It is a very fast smooth gait, and requires an athletic horse and rider. It averages between twenty five and thirty miles per hour and can only be sustained for short distances.
There are other gaits that only certain breeds of horses can do, or horses with special training. Pacing, fox trotting, racking and running walks are some examples of these gaits. Hopefully this helps you understand a little more about how horses move, and how to make yourself move with your horse. We would be more than happy to help you learn more about all the gaits mentioned when you come to visit us at Goosewing Ranch.

What the Heck is a Lariat?

May 4th, 2012 by Amy


The lariat is one of the most versatile tools a cowboy has at their disposal. I’m sure you know what a lariat is, even if you have never heard that term used. You would instantly know what I was talking about if I referred to it as a ‘lasso.’ Although most people use it as a noun ‘lasso’, is actually a verb. There is no faster way to flag yourself as a layman than calling a lariat a ‘lasso.’ Most of the people who actually use a lariat, however, often refer to it as a rope, and the act of using it, ‘roping.’

There are about as many sizes, styles, and options for ropes as there are for cars. You can get them in a variety of lengths, colors, levels of softness, and made out of a range of materials. The main thing lariats have in common is that they are slightly stiffer than ‘regular’ rope. A lariat needs to be stiff so the loop will stay open when it is thrown, and so the person using it can open and close the loop easily with one hand. The standard rope you see used at most rodeo events is made of braided nylon and is between 30 and 35 feet. These ropes are almost always used in the sports of team roping and tie-down roping. The goal in both of these events is to rope the cattle as quickly as possible. Although these ropes can be used for ranch chores, it is common to have what is known as a ranch rope for work around the ranch.

A ranch rope is a type of lariat that is much longer than its rodeo cousin. Ranch ropes can easily be between 50 or 60 feet long, and are generally not as stiff. Ranch roping is almost never the fast paced action you see in the rodeo arena. The big difference is that in ranch roping you have to deal with a herd of animals, instead of 1-on-1 in an arena. Ranch roping focuses on accuracy and controlling the movements of the animal. Much like a baseball player, ranch ropers employ a variety of different throwing styles. There is everything from your basic over hand throw to something called Johnny Blockers*.

You might be thinking that this all sounds good and well, but that it seems like an awful lot of work to learn how to lasso something. You would be right, but at Goosewing Ranch we would be more than happy to teach you. I have taught many people how to throw a rope in Jackson Hole Wyoming and it always seems like everyone else picked it up faster than I did. If you can throw a ball of any kind, I know we can get you lassoing something. I’m sure by the time your guest ranch vacation is coming to an end you will be hard pressed to stop lassoing your spouse, child, or dog. (In fact I can almost assure you that they will be politely asking you to stop).

*A Johnny Blocker is where you throw the lariat slightly in front of the calf, and then pull the loop back onto their head.