Posts Tagged ‘family vacation’

Autumn in Jackson Hole

October 15th, 2012 by Amy

Well the summer tourist season has drawn to a close.  It was another spectacular summer in the Jackson Hole area, and throughout Yellowstone.  But not all travelers have left and there certainly are locals still in the area… so what is there to do in Jackson during the fall shoulder season?   Well, there is a lot to do.

Goosewing Ranch closed to guests on September 23 for the 2012 summer season, but we are still at the ranch finishing projects and already preparing for 2013.  Without all the families on the ranch to take horseback riding we have some down time to really enjoy the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

Hunting, fishing, hiking, and great deals are just a few of the things you can experience in Jackson Hole Wyoming during the autumn months.  Flights into Jackson Hole Airport are usually a little less expensive and all restaurants and hotels are offering discounted rates and deals.  The area itself is beautiful also.  The aspen trees are in full color, and the wildlife is abundant whether you are shooting them with a  camera, bow, or riffle.  Hunting is a big part of our local economy and it brings many thrill seekers to the area.  Contact a local guiding service or check out grosventrehunting.com for more information.  Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks also offer great touring opportunities.   With fewer tourists in the area you can travel through the parks with ease.  This is also a great time of year for hiking with cooler temps and spectacular views, but remember the wildlife is preparing for winter so tread with caution.  Fishing is still excellent also.  The steams are easily accessible and the trout are hungry.  With temps ranging for 65 degrees during the day down below freezing at night you will want to pack a variety of options.  But get out and enjoy the spectacular weather the autumn in the Tetons brings.

Make sure you check local listings for off season hours and specials, and also check with the local parks because each entrance and most venders have different dates of operation.  Remember not all of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are open all year.  If you like cooler weather, great deals, fall colors, small crowds, and lots of wildlife and scenery viewing then checkout the Jackson Hole area.  Most of the people in the area this time of year are hunters, locals, and singles or couples so pack a bag and enjoy the off season touring the Tetons.   I know those of us at Goosewing Ranch and in the Gros Ventre LOVE this time of year!

 

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.

English vs Western, Whats the Difference?

August 10th, 2012 by Amy

Guests often ask us what the difference between English and Western riding is, but the answer often isn’t as straightforward as they would like because there are many similarities between the two schools. One big difference is the saddles used in each discipline and why they are used.
Western saddles are designed for comfort and utility because they are a working saddle. Cowboys would spend their entire day in the saddle, and so their saddles were made as comfortable as possible while still giving them plenty of places to tie their ropes, and hang their guns. The most prominent feature of the western saddle is undoubtedly the horn. To the surprise of most novice riders, the horn is not a handle or place to rest your hand. The horn is used to dally(wrap) your rope around when catching cattle, dragging objects on horseback, tie things to, and for many other uses. Western saddles typically have high cantles, and pommels, which create a deeper seat to help you stay secure at faster gaits over uneven terrain. They also have large fenders which keep the stirrups from moving around unnecessarily. Saddle bags, tied on behind the cantle, are a common accessory for holding things while you are out on the trail. We provide pommel bags for our guests, which slide over the horn and secure under the gullet for holding lunches, water, cameras, and anything else they would like to take out on the trail.
English saddles are much lighter and have fewer bells and whistles than their western counter-parts. There is less leather between you and the horse, and therefore you can ‘feel’ the horse more. The lack of additional leather also gives you more mobility so you can maintain the proper posture for jumping. The stirrup leathers are very thin, so it is very important to keep your weight in your stirrups so they don’t flop around.
There are many other differences between the two disciplines from the typical clothing that is worn to the bits and reins used. One style is not better than the other because they are both trying to accomplish different things. If you are an English rider looking to be exposed to the Western style of riding, or if you have never ridden and you think that you would like to try Western riding, Goosewing Ranch is a great place to test it out and see if it is for you!

Diagram of a Western saddleDiagram of an English saddle

What the Heck is a Lariat?

May 4th, 2012 by Amy

Wrangler

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.

The Cowboy Hat…

May 1st, 2012 by Amy

They come in all shapes, sizes, heights, and colors…Some faded, some misshaped, and others perfectly formed.  What is it that is so special about a cowboys/girls hat?  To completely understand the bond between the buckaroo and their signature piece, one must understand the uses of the cowboy hat.

Unlike many other styles of hats the cowboy hat is quite functional.  With its larger brim it makes a very useful sunshade for the face, neck, and shoulders.  This same large brim also protects you when it rains or snows and you can turn your hat into the wind to protect yourself from the blowing dust storm, or hide your eyes in a poker game in Jackson Hole.  A light straw hat will keep you cool in through the Wyoming summer and a heavy felt hat will keep you warm in the winter.  Not only are hats great for protection, but they also serve a useful purpose as a bucket (we have all heard of the 10 gallon hat), or storage area…Cowboys are known for keeping pictures, poems, cash and tooth picks in their hats.  Now if you have never had the pleasure of wearing a cowboy hat and experiencing the versatility then it is hard to explain why some cowboys get so attached…Breaking in a new hat is like starting a colt.  You’re gonna have your good days and your bad days, but after you each get dirty, and take a few spills together you will be working as a team for years to come; and a cowboy never forgets his first hat or colt.

Jackson Hole has a lot great hat shops, but you don’t have to get a custom hat to fit in at Goosewing Ranch.  A good hat should fit well, be comfortable, and serve the above purposes.  I want my hat to be able to stay put on my hand while I am riding a bucking, runaway horse in a windstorm.  But, the snug hat shouldn’t cause pain or discomfort; your hat should form to the shape of your head.  A general rule of mine is if I can bend over like I am picking a horse’s foot and my hat stays on then that’s a good start.  Hats come in all shapes…some are more round with a tall crown, while others are oval with a low crown.  Each region is known for a different shape of cowboy hat, all serving the same purposes but each adding its own flare and style.  If your hat isn’t a sure fit make sure you also purchase or construct a stampede string to go along.  The stampede string secures to your hat and then is tightened under your chin to keep your hat on your head whether you’re in a wild horse chase through the mountains or just horseback riding in some mild Wyoming wind.  Most western stores have a person on staff that can help you find the perfect hat; this person usually will be able to custom shape the hat to fit your head and your personal style.  Take your time shopping, remember you and your hat will make many memories together, from galloping through the Gros Ventre, being smashed to the ground from the winds off the Grand Tetons, to surviving  the family vacation into Yellowstone National Park.  Each adventure takes you one step closer to forming that bond between cowboy and cowboy hat…Where will yours take you?

Rodeos…A cowboys resume…

April 25th, 2012 by Amy

Rodeos have a long and vibrant history. The roots of modern rodeos can be traced back to the late 1700s and 1800s. Spanish ranchers who settled in Mexico brought over many of their ranching techniques and taught them to their Mexican ranch hands, also known as vaqueros. As Spanish influence waned in the 1800s the vaqueros moved north and passed on much of their knowledge to Americans moving out and settling the new western frontier.

As the West was settled nearby ranches began holding informal competitions between their outfits to see who was the best at doing ranch chores. Chores like breaking horses and roping cattle provided the basis for the modern day events that we see in rodeos. Many cowboys began to find themselves out of work as trains spread toward the west coast and the range lands were fenced in around the time of the American Civil War. The solution for these cowboys was to travel around and exhibit their skills in Wild West Shows, and local rodeos. In the early days the performers in the two shows were one in the same. The rodeos of this time period were still almost completely unorganized, which led to much confusion. Rodeos were put on by local communities and there was little communication between them. Many of the competitors didn’t know what events were being offered, or even what the rules were going to be until they arrived and paid their entry fees.

In the early 1900s rodeos began to be structured more and more by official rodeo organizations. These organizations put together a formal set of rules and judging guidelines. Eventually Wild West shows fell on the wayside and rodeos became more and more like we see them today. Rodeos were actually one of the first sports to have a dedicated governing body with the creation of the Rodeo Association of America(RAA) in 1929. Today we have the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association(PRCA) which puts on the famous National Finals Rodeo every year in Las Vegas.  From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Jackson Hole, has a rodeo every Wednesday and Saturday night.  Rodeos have been popular on guest ranch and dude ranches, like Goosewing Ranch, for generations.

Rodeos have changed quite a bit over the years, but it’s fun to think about how rodeos have transformed from a simple competition between neighbors to the competitive sport it is today.

Other interesting facts about rodeos:

  • The ‘invention’ of steer wrestling can be attributed to just one man, Bill Pickett. It is the only event that can be attributed to only one person.
  • The most popular event in the rodeos in the late 1800s and early 1900s was trick roping, also known as ‘fancy roping’
  • Women were a regular part of bronc and bull riding in early rodeos, but became publicly unpopular after a woman was killed in 1929
  • There are many claims to the first rodeo, but the earliest recorded is Santa Fe, NM (1842)

Our Independence Day Special includes a trip in to famous Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the parade, lunch in Grand Teton National Park, rodeo, and fireworks.  This is a great family vacation package…

Preparing and Packing for your Goosewing Ranch vacation:

March 28th, 2012 by Amy

The countdown has begun and your summer vacation is quickly approaching. Now begins the task of preparing and packing. Packing for any vacation can be a challenge, and a guest ranch is no different. Whether you plan to pick up some essential items in Jackson, or bring them from home, we would like to give you some suggestions on what to pack and expect…

Remember, Goosewing Ranch is located at 7,400 feet in the Gros Ventre Mountains, the sun is very intense, and the weather can change drastically very quickly. Typically the summer months in Jackson Hole are very enjoyable, with mild temperatures and a dry climate. Expect, warm, and dry days, with chilly temperatures in the evenings and nights. The weather can be very different as you travel from Yellowstone to Jackson to the Ranch. We recommend always carrying an extra layer with you while traveling through western Wyoming. The ranch, town, and surrounding National Parks are all very causal and laid-back… You will be welcomed into most establishments in causal summer attire, or your cowboy getup.

Aside from you cowboy or cowgirl gear we suggest that you bring along… sunblock of SPF 15 or high, lip balm with SPF, and make sure to apply throughout the day. Hats are a great tool in keeping you cool, and aid in sunburn prevention. A cowboy hat works well, because it keeps the sun off your face and neck, just make sure it is a snug fit or purchase a stampede strap to keep it on your head. We also recommend bringing a thin long sleeve shirt; this will also help keep you cool and from getting too much sun exposure. We have found that fishing or western button up shirts work the best. For horseback riding, you will want to have a comfortable pair of jeans, and slick soled boots with about a ½” heel. We recommend this style of boot for safety reasons; bulky hiking boots could get stuck and shoes without heels can slide to far forward being very dangerous for the rider. Boots are fun for a night of dancing also. There can be a drastic temperature fluctuation between day and night, so we suggest that you bring a fleece or light jacket, for those of you coming in June or late September, bring a heavier jacket or more layers. Don’t forget your bathing suit, shorts, t-shirts, and comfortable hiking or walking shoes for touring the local area and parks. If you are planning on rafting the Snake River or floating the Gros Ventre bring a pair of water shoes or sandals that will stay on your feet. We have a guest laundry facility located near our cabins for your convenience. We will provide all riders with rain slickers, in case of an afternoon shower. We also have a number of items available for purchase in of gift shop, such as, gloves, hoodies, vests, lip balm, bug spray, sunblock, ball caps, and more… In your cabin for your pleasure are hair dryers, robes, mini frig, coffee maker, and eco-sential bath products. If you are planning on going on an overnight pack trip we suggest bringing wool socks, warm hat, and an extra warm layer. Please feel free to contact at 1-888-733-5251 or 1-307-733-5251 us or visit our website for more information.

Suggested Items to pack:                                                                                                                   Camera (w/ extra batteries or charger)
Western style clothing
Sunscreen (SPF 15+)
Lip Balm w/ SPF
Sunglasses
Bug Spray
Hat (ball cap or cowboy hat)
Light jacket or Fleece
Slick soled boots with ½” heel (great for riding and dancing)
Thin long sleeved shirt (recommend fishing or western button shirts)
Jeans (comfortable to horseback ride in)
Bathing suit
Water shoes (make sure they will stay on your feet in the river)
Hiking or walking shoes
Personal items
Summer attire                                                                                                                                                                             Phone Card (for placing long distance calls from the ranch phone line) there is free Wi-Fi available

Average Temps:
June High and Low: 68 / 35
July High and Low: 76 / 42
August High and Low: 75 / 43
September High and Low: 65 / 33

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