This year, we decided to go to a Dude Ranch!!! Oh my goodness, what a blast we had! I simply googled "dude ranches in Texas" and up popped a list! We did a little research and settled on the Mayan Dude Ranch in Bandera, Texas, which is about a 5 1/2 hour drive from our place.
*Note: I don't own boots. My brother in law sent me his to borrow all the way from Michigan. They were pretty big, so I ended up only wearing them the first ride. I worried that if I needed to react quickly with the horse my boots could fall off or I wouldn't have the footing I needed in the stirrups. I do think I may need to buy some boots in the future though. All the ladies were wearing them with cute skirts, dresses and shorts, and looked adorable!
Each day they had snacks in their pavilion before dinner and some sort of neat thing to do. Thursday night we got to meet and take a picture with Oreo, the Longhorn Steer. He was super sweet and patient! Look close...he is smiling!
From about 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. they had an open drinks area in the pavilion (behind us in the Longhorn pic). We could get all the soda, lemonade, ice cold water, and fresh popcorn we wanted all day long. Oh, and if we wanted, we could have had all the beer and wine we wanted too. But we didn't. :-)
One neat thing they do is they have the meals at all different locations on the property. You take a hayride out to the location each evening. We quickly learned that hay is pokey and itchy, so we preferred to move the hay out of the way!
The ranch offers a complimentary coffee and OJ wake up service (they bring it to your door!) but we decided to pass on that. We did, however, take part in the Cowboy breakfast out on the trail. You had the option to either ride a horse down (and that counted as your morning ride) or take a hayride to the location. We did the hayride option. The hayride driver scattered corn on the way down, and this big group of deer came to nibble it. They were so close!
They had scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, biscuits, hash browns and juices. OH MY. Here we are at the wagon down at the cowboy breakfast.
This is Tommy, one of the cowboys that helped us. He led our trail rides every day. If you look closely behind him, you can see some of the deer we saw.
Like the ride the day before, Kendra and I were separated. I was near the front, and as almost at the end. I was completely off my horse when she finally came through the trail. We took a few pics with our steeds, and then headed up for lunch.
Lunch was yummy, and soon it was time for our afternoon ride. Kendra got put on Paco again, and she didn't look right. I wasn't on a horse yet and she summoned me over. She said she was scared. We had already done two rides, so I thought it just had to do with the fact that Paco decided to wander off to the watering trough instead of stay with the cluster of horses. The cowboys had me get on Angel, and we were ready to go. All of the sudden Kendra bursts into tears and says she can't go. She started panicking, and I knew we couldn't ride. I called to the cowboys to help us get off--the horses were already lining up and weren't going to stop just cuz I said so! So we got off. I confess I did not earn Mother of the Year award after that. I was pretty frustrated at this rapid change of Kendra's.
We headed back to the cabin where I finally figured out what happened to make her scared. Remember the morning ride in the hills that I loved? Well, it included several steep inclines and declines, as well as some pretty rocky terrain. I had confidence in my horse and enjoyed it, but apparently Kendra was petrified. It didn't help that she was nowhere near me---she couldn't even see me at all. She never told me any of that after the ride, and so when we got ready for the next ride and saw that we were heading direction, she lost it. I told her that she should have talked to me BEFORE the next ride and I could have helped. You can request things like being on horses that are able to be near each other, and also the ride was NOT going in the hills again, but on a different trail that just led out the same way. If I had known her fears, we could have handled them. She learned that communication is KEY!
The ranch has a really nice pool and the two girlies were bound and determined to swim, even though the water was only 68 degrees! The air was good and warm, though, so they plunged in! CRAZY kids!
At snacktime, a gentleman came with his buffalo named Lakota. Yep, a buffalo. We couldn't get close to him, though, as he was a bit ornery. It was neat to learn about him, though.
Earlier in the day, Kendra got to do some archery in Hicksville, too.
We decided to eat breakfast in the main dining room the second morning, and I was glad we did! They had an omelet station, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and they even brought me a diet Coke (bless their hearts!). We had our final trail ride, and Kendra gathered all of her bravery to do it. I told her I wanted her to walk away from this trip with a good final memory of riding, and even though there were a few nervous tears she did it. We made sure we had horses who would be together, so I got to ride Captain Jack and Kendra had Rusty. Kendra also got to ride right behind Tommy, which I think helped her be calm, too. It didn't help that Rusty decided to trot for a bit at the beginning, though! We had a good ride, and Kendra did great. But then at the end, Rusty decided to be ornery to Tommy's horse and bit him in the bo-hiney! Tommy's horse didn't like that at all, so he kicked. Rusty had to skitter out of the way, which of course scared Kendra half to death. But she held on like a trooper, and stayed in the saddle just perfectly. She gathered her wits for the last bit after much encouragement from me, Tommy, and the mom riding behind me. Horses can be unpredictable, even if they are used to doing what they do all day long like those. She did great!
A few miscellaneous pictures of our fun...
Hayride to dinner Friday. Note the cute "DUDE" shirt Kendra is wearing. I got one too!
Pure bliss for me: Diet Coke, porch swing, beautiful weather, and a good book. Ah.
The adorable girlies. What a great family we met! I wish I had gotten a picture of all three of them together!
I totally recommend this place. VERY reasonable, exceptional service, a really neat story to their family (the ranch is run entirely by family--too long of a story for an already long post). I think we will probably go there again in a few years, to be sure! Maybe we can make plans to have our new friends come, too! :-)